Last month, we noted that a ton of tech companies — including us at the Copia Institute — had signed on to amicus brief opposing the Trump Executive Order on immigration. As you know, the administration came out with a new executive order a few weeks later, trying to get around the multiple courts that had blocked the original order. The new order is just a cosmetic rewriting of the original one with a few small changes that the administration hopes will survive judicial scrutiny. A number of challenges have already been filed to the new order, and in one of them, brought by the state of Hawaii, a bunch of tech companies (again, including the Copia Institute) have now filed an amicus brief opposing the order. In particular, this brief focuses on the harms to the tech industry, including actual examples of harms created by this exec order:
A U.S. resident employed at a cutting-edge software company fears that he cannot leave the U.S. because he is a national of a Muslim majority country targeted by President Trump’s travel ban. If he attempts to travel outside the country, he could be detained and refused re-entry. After the travel ban went into effect, he canceled plans to bring his mother to the U.S. to visit him, out of concern that she might be detained or turned away. He has not been home for five years. The U.S. company he works for, which employs over 100 people and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital, was founded by an immigrant.
A high-tech, U.S.-based software company devoted significant resources to an event it scheduled in February 2017 where it planned to host owners of small businesses and tech start-ups based overseas. Before these entrepreneurs became business and start-up owners, they were Syrian refugees. After President Trump’s travel ban went into effect on January 27, 2017, the event was abruptly postponed, because the guests were unable to travel to the U.S. on account of their status as Syrian refugees. The U.S.- based software company plans to reschedule the event at a location outside the U.S., so the Syrian refugees and entrepreneurs can safely attend.
A U.S.-based mobile app and website development company with millions of users worldwide employs U.S. residents who are nationals of the Muslim-majority countries targeted by President Trump’s travel ban. In late January and February 2017, some of these employees had planned to fly outside the U.S. for business or personal reasons. Since the travel ban was announced, these employees canceled their flights for fear they would be detained or not permitted to re-enter the U.S.
A U.S.-based technology company courted promising job candidates overseas and was prepared to offer them employment when the prospects suddenly withdrew from consideration because they were worried about immigration issues in light of President Trump’s travel ban.
After the implementation of President Trump’s travel ban, foreign born founders of a U.S.-based technology company began exploring the possibility of moving their company outside of the U.S.—and taking the company’s jobs with them.
The filing goes through the history of the initial ban, and then notes that the new version is still just as bad:
President Trump’s new travel ban is no different. It will inflict the same
substantial and irreparable harm upon U.S. companies and their employees. And
in implementing the promise of a “Muslim ban,” the new travel ban suffers from
many of the same defects as the first travel ban. It violates the prohibition against
nationality-based discrimination that Congress established through the Immigration
and Nationality Act. It exceeds the authority granted to the Executive. It is
arbitrary and overbroad in scope. And it impermissibly discriminates on the basis
of religion and deprives individuals of Due Process rights, thus violating the U.S.
Constitution. In sum, President Trump’s new travel ban has not overcome the
constitutional and legal deficiencies that led courts to enjoin his first travel ban.
Accordingly, the new travel ban should meet the same fate as the first travel ban—
it should be enjoined nationwide.
This amicus brief is at the district court level, so it’s still quite early in the process — and there are other legal challenges in other courts. This will still take a while to sort itself out, but we’re proud to stand alongside others in the industry in speaking up for why these immigration executive orders are illegal and unconstitutional, not to mention bad for innovation and the economy.
Update: And just an hour or so after we posted this, the judge has granted a temporary restraining order, blocking the executive order from going into effect…