Federal Judge Rules Against Trump’s Non-Immigrant Visa Proclamation

Written by: Ashik Jahan, Esq.

Judge Jeffrey S. White of the U.S. District Court of Northern California granted a preliminary injunction filed by several associations that had challenged the validity of President Trump’s Proclamation 10052, which suspended the issuance of nonimmigrant work visas (particularly J, L, and H category visas) in June of 2020 for a period lasting until December 13, 2020, or longer if necessary.”  According to the Trump administration, the basis for the proclamation was that the entry of such workers presents a significant threat to employment opportunities for Americans affected by the extraordinary economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Microsoft, Exxon Mobile, and Amazon, all members of the association, contended that Trump exceeded his authority, arguing that the Proclamation would actually cause severe labor shortages.  Judge White agreed, noting that the President’s authority to suspend or restrict immigration applies only when national security or foreign relations issues are involved, but not with a purely domestic matter, such as unemployment in the U.S. during a pandemic. Judge White wrote that “Congress’ delegation of authority in the immigration context under Section 1182(f) does not afford the President unbridled authority to set domestic policy regarding employment of nonimmigrant foreigners.”  He added that the Proclamation “unlawfully eviscerates” portions of Immigration Law  by temporarily eliminating visa categories.  Moreover, he notes that the Proclamation’s basis that foreign workers are a threat to employment opportunities for Americans does not comport with the facts.

The ruling, which applies only to members of the associations that brought the suit, allows those employers to resume bringing in employees from abroad.  Nevertheless, it is widely anticipated that the State Department may implement the order broadly, depending on the status of appeals that will likely be filed in response to the ruling.  It is important to note that the injunction does not address the unavailability of visa interview appointments at most U.S. consulates due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


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