Trump ‘exceeded his authority’: US judge lifts temporary ban on H-1B visa, other work permits

A United States judge on Thursday blocked the enforcement of a temporary ban by the Donald Trump administration on a large number of work permits, including the H-1B visa, according to AP. Trump had on June 22 signed an executive order to suspend several categories of foreign work visas, including the H-1B visa that is highly sought-after by Indian IT professionals, till the end of 2020.

District Judge Jeffrey White said his order applied to members of organisations that had filed a lawsuit against the administration. This includes the US Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, technology industry group TechNet, and Intrax Inc, which sponsors cultural exchanges. The judge added his order did not extend beyond these organisations.

Judge White said in his ruling that the US president “exceeded his authority”. Trump’s decision to enforce the ban had come amid a sharp increase in the unemployment rate in the US because of the coronavirus pandemic. The president had said that the US needs to save and protect jobs for its domestic workforce at a time of “high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labour.”

“There must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative,” the order said.

The judge further wrote in the order that the Congress’ delegation of authority does not give the president the authority to set domestic policy in regards to the employment of nonimmigrant foreigners, adding that such a move would render the president’s Article II powers all but superfluous, reported. The article concerned deals with the powers of the president of the United States.

“Indeed, there must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative,” the judge wrote. “Such unrestricted authority would be contrary to Congress’ explicit delegation of powers in foreign affairs and national security.”

Judge White’s ruling differs from the August order passed by the District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta, who said that he does not have the power to enjoin the ban while the litigation was underway.

Paul Hughes, an attorney for the organisations, said the Chamber of Commerce itself has “more than 3,00,000 members of all shapes and sizes across the United States.”

The National Association of Manufacturers, which comprises 1,400 companies, said the order will help with “crucial, hard-to-fill jobs to support economic recovery, growth and innovation when we most need it.”

Today’s decision is a temporary win for manufacturers committed to building that innovation in the United States. A long-term win for manufacturers requires policymakers to support meaningful reforms to our immigration laws that recognize the critical link between smart immigration policy and America’s competitive advantage.”

— National Association of Manufacturers Vice President Linda Kelly

Various companies in the US had opposed the ban. Manufacturers had approached the court to against the ban because the restrictions both undermined the industry at a critical time and conflicted with the law, Kelly said.

Apart from H-1B visa, other visas that were banned were H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal workers, J visas for cultural exchanges and L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.

The ban came into effect on June 24. A huge number of Indian IT professionals and companies, which already issued visas for 2021 in October last year, had to wait till the end of the year to get them stamped by the authorities.

The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Trump ‘exceeded his authority’: US judge lifts temporary ban on H-1B visa, other work permits