Corporate immigration lawyers are asking a federal judge to take control of the immigration system from President Donald Trump and then suspend routine visa deadlines for foreign workers until after the coronavirus epidemic has passed. In a baffling demand, the American Immigration Lawyers Association said in the April 3 lawsuit that the judge should “assume jurisdiction over this matter” and order the Department of Homeland Security to extend the visas for the foreign workers.
The stakes are very high. Under federal rules, whenever U.S. and Indian companies fire visa workers — such as H-1Bs — the visa workers must go home. If enforced, this rule will free many blue-collar and white-collar jobs for 96,845,000 Americans without work due to the recent pandemic from China. Currently, Indian companies are lobbying federal agencies to keep their fired workers in the United States.
The federal government also keeps roughly 1.3 million foreign white-collar workers in the United States, plus more than one million work permit workers in the United States. There is also a growing population of white-collar illegal aliens in the United States. This population includes people who overstay their education or work visas and people who work illegally after using a B-1 visitor visa to get into the United States.
The lawyers’ request comes after a group of GOP Senators blocked a Democratic effort to restart work permits for the million-plus visa workers and the work permit workers who hold jobs in the United States. The giveaway was inserted into the coronavirus rescue bill, but it was stopped when the GOP Senators warned their colleagues “to not open the immigration can of worms in the coronavirus bill,” said one Hill source. The GOP Senators who opposed the visa giveaway include Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Sen. Tom Cotton R-AR), and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). Their group was backed up by a larger group of GOP Senators who are “still concerned about any use of the coronavirus [bill] to pass an immigration bill,” the source said.
The lawsuit was filed on April 3 by the AILA, which includes lawyers who work for companies that import foreign workers and place them in American jobs around the country. The lawsuit says that the “global pandemic has caused a great need for a pause in the workplace, at home, in schools — everywhere. It remains irrational for USCIS to misunderstand the human and professional needs of Plaintiff’s members.” The judge should take control, said the lawsuit, adding:
Declare that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an extraordinary circumstance beyond the control of Plaintiff’s members representing applicants or petitioners for immigration benefits; C. Order USCIS to toll any and all deadlines for initial applications, responses to any and all Requests for Evidence or other responses due on or after March 1, 2020, requests for extension of status, maintenance of status, and reprieve from any expiration of status or employment authorization; D. Order USCIS to “maintain the status quo” for purposes of eligibility for protection from removal, work authorization, and immigration benefits from the date the President declared that a national emergency began on March 1, 2020, until 90 days after the emergency officially ends.
John Miano, a lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute shot down the lawsuit in its entirety, stating, "The federal lawsuit is just a joke, it is asking the courts to step and act like an [White House] administration — they’re asking for judicial activism to the max.”
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Updated: Tue, Apr 21st 2020 @ 1:05pm EDT