Bay Area Council Sues Trump Administration to Block New H1-B Visa Restrictions
The Bay Area Council this week (Oct. 20) filed suit to block the Trump Administration from implementing harmful new restrictions that effectively gut an important foreign worker visa program on which thousands of U.S. employers across many industries rely to fill key positions. For decades, the H1-B visa program has been an invaluable tool for companies whose need for high-skilled workers has exceeded the pool of talent available domestically.
“Shutting down our pipeline of high-skilled foreign workers will be a disaster for our economy and for our post-COVID recovery,” said Dr. Sean Randolph, Senior Director of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute and an expert on the critical role foreign talent plays in creating new jobs, creating new companies, attracting investment and maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness. “These workers fill an important need in our economy and provide immense benefits not only to the companies they work for but the communities where they live. Many of the leading and fastest-growing technology companies in the Bay Area have been founded by entrepreneurs from other countries who first came here on visas. Closing the door to talent from around the world will drive those skills and the opportunities they create to other countries who are more welcoming. In the end that means fewer U.S. jobs. The Bay Area and America must continue to be a place where anyone around the world can come to pursue their dream or dream job. This proposal from the Trump Administration effectively ends that option. We can’t let that happen.”
The Bay Area Council joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (statement) and other business and industry groups in challenging the misguided Trump restrictions. The lawsuit argues the new restrictions are not only illegal on their face but that the rushed process for implementing them was flawed.
The new H1-B restrictions continue a concerted effort by the Trump Administration to clamp down on all immigration and come just a few months after a federal court issued a temporary injunction on another rule that would have imposed an outright ban on all H1-B and other foreign worker visas through the end of 2020. The Trump Administration actions also come in the absence of any progress by Congress to craft comprehensive immigration reform for which the Bay Area Council has long advocated along with increased investment in retraining and upskilling American workers.
Bay Area companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and Tesla use H-1B visas to engage workers with specialized skills, and universities such as Stanford and Berkeley do as well. In the Bay Area 40-45% of technology companies have been founded by immigrant entrepreneurs. Of 91 unicorns (billion dollar plus companies) that were recently surveyed nationally, more than half had at least one immigrant founder and 75 had at least one immigrant in key roles such as CEO, CTO of Chief Product Officer. Thirty-three of those companies, which on average create 1200 jobs, are in California, with most concentrated in the Bay Area.