Attorney General James Co-Leads Coalition Challenging Trump Administration’s Unlawful Effort to Bar Immigrants and Foreign Workers

AG James Files Brief Seeking to Prevent Enforcement of Executive Orders
Restricting Legal Immigration and Temporary Work Visas

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James has co-led a coalition of 23 attorneys general in fighting against the Trump Administration’s continued efforts to curtail legal immigration and temporary work visa programs. In an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs in Gomez., et al. v. Trump, Attorney General James co-led the coalition in calling for an injunction against the enforcement of two executive orders that would suspend large swathes of the nation’s legal immigration system and several of its most important non-immigrant work visa programs. The coalition argues that the participation of immigrants and other foreign-born employees in the workforce is critical to economic development, and that the order will prolong the separation of families.

“As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, our nation needs all the economic relief we can get, but the Trump Administration continues to strip economic opportunities from states and immigrant workers by placing arbitrary and unconstitutional restrictions on entry,” said Attorney General James. “This order will cause irreparable harm to our economies and communities, and our coalition will use every tool at our disposal to fight it.”

On April 22, 2020, President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning from entry most legal immigrants being sponsored by U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident family members, by their employers, or who had won the diversity visa lottery. The April order was set to expire in 60 days but was renewed on June 22. The June order also added new bans on non-immigrant workers arriving on H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visas. Absent an injunction, the June order will be in effect until December 31, 2020, and may be further extended. If allowed to remain in effect, these orders will bar more than 500,000 people from entering the United States this year and prevent approximately 20,000 employers from bringing foreign employees into the United States.

In the brief — co-led by Attorney General James and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — the coalition describes the harms the executive orders could have on immigrant workers, their families, and the United States economy. By preventing thousands of immigrants and other foreign-born workers from participating in the workforce, the order deprives states of valuable economic contributions. Immigrants start businesses, fill important jobs in sectors facing labor shortages, and pay millions of dollars in taxes each year. The ban will also harm many important industries — including science, technology, and medicine — as these fields often rely on foreign-born workers with specialized technical knowledge and skills. The economic harm caused by these bans will undermine states’ ability to fully recover from the damage inflicted by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Finally, the coalition argues that the executive order will harm amici states’ residents and communities by withholding visas from hundreds of thousands of parents, grandparents, children, and siblings seeking to reunite with their relatives in the United States.

Joining Attorneys General James and Becerra in filing this brief are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

This matter was handled by Assistant Solicitor General Ester Murdukhayeva, Deputy Solicitor General Anisha S. Dasgupta, and Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood — all of the Division of Appeals and Opinions.