- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The country’s big business groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block President Trump’s new coronavirus immigration crackdown, begging the court to keep the pipeline of foreign labor flowing.

The National Association of Manufacturers, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several other organizations banded together to file the challenge in federal court in California.

They said that while the law allows Mr. Trump the power to exclude some migrants, that doesn’t cover the large-scale blockade he announced in a proclamation last month covering some 500,000 temporary worker visas that would have been issued this year.

“In this way, the Proclamation takes a sledgehammer to the statutes Congress enacted with respect to high-skilled and temporary worker immigration,” the business groups said. “While the President’s powers under Section 212(f) are broad, they do not authorize the president to nullify duly enacted statutory provisions.”

They also said the law requires any moves to be connected to stopping the virus, while Mr. Trump has sold his immigration pause as an economic salve instead.

The business groups said proof that Mr. Trump overstepped lies in his proclamation’s scope, which doesn’t just ban guest workers but also their families.

“Banning the entry of individuals who cannot work, but nevertheless will demand products and services produced by American businesses and American workers, is not a rational response to an unemployment problem,” the business groups argued.

Mr. Trump has made immigration policy a major part of his response to the coronavirus.

In April he blocked issuance of tens of thousands of green cards each month, then in June expanded that policy to include temporary workers under the H-1B, H-2B, H-4 and L visas categories through the end of the year. The business groups said that amounts to 500,000 people.

Mr. Trump says he wants businesses to turn to Americans first when searching for workers as the economy recovers. He said blocking new foreign workers will force the issue.

The business groups, though, counter that foreign workers actually help some parts of the economy. They argued that tech workers, who often use H-1B visas, are critical to the recovery, yet the unemployment rate among them is very low despite the pandemic.

Mr. Trump has already reversed course on another policy.

ICE had announced it would require foreign students to attend at least one in-person class in the fall semester or else go home. A week after that announcement, the Justice Department told a federal judge it was rescinding the new policy.

Analysts said the back and forth is evidence of the internal debate within the Trump White House, with the pro-big business faction triumphing over the U.S. worker faction.

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