Judge blocks Trump administration’s temporary visa restrictions

Kimberly Adams Oct 2, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace
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A medical scientist runs a test at a University of Washington lab. The H-1B visa freeze affects jobs in science-related as well as other fields. Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Judge blocks Trump administration’s temporary visa restrictions

Kimberly Adams Oct 2, 2020
A medical scientist runs a test at a University of Washington lab. The H-1B visa freeze affects jobs in science-related as well as other fields. Karen Ducey/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

With millions of Americans unemployed, the Trump administration argues we don’t need to let in more foreign workers. That was the thinking behind a temporary ban Trump issued back in June on certain types of work visas for skilled tech workers, students on cultural exchanges, seasonal workers in landscaping and hospitality, and more.

But a federal judge in California said Thursday that the president had likely exceeded his authority.

Back in June, the Trump administration said the point of restricting these visas was to give American workers the first shot at any open jobs. So the president temporarily banned new H-1B visas for tech workers, and H-2B visas for certain seasonal workers.

Daniel Griswold, a senior research fellow at the think tank Mercatus Center, said “the H-1B visas tend to go to people in information technology, high-tech computer type jobs, and their unemployment rate has remained low.”

Groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and others covering hundreds of thousands of businesses got together to sue.

Lawyer Linda Kelly, a senior vice president at the National Association of Manufacturers, was also party to the suit.

“These high, high technology positions are really hard to fill jobs for manufacturers, and we’re competing with organizations really across the globe for folks with these qualifications,” she said.

We reached out to federal immigration officials for comment on this case, but didn’t hear anything back in time for this story.

These restrictions also applied to many H-2B visas, which can be used to bring in people for seasonal construction, hospitality and landscaping jobs.

“In the last several years, we’re probably close to least a decade, almost half of all users of the program come from the landscape industry,” said Andrew Bray with the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

He said his industry did try to hire people laid off or furloughed due to the pandemic, but often their jobs went unfilled.

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