Employers Band Together to Decry Trump Administration’s Proposed Immigration Rule Changes

The companies contend the regulations needlessly hinder immigration and will ultimately slow economic growth
Updated: Fri, 01/17/2020 - 10:58
  • The companies contend the regulations needlessly hinder immigration and will ultimately slow economic growth

A coalition of more than 100 employers across the nation that are impacted by the shifting ground in immigration enforcement have joined together to file friend-of-the-court pleadings, known as an amicus curiae brief, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia.

The amicus brief calls out the Trump administration’s proposed public-charge rule changes for immigrants, describing them as “arbitrary, capricious and unconscionable regulation.”

The proposed draconian rules have been challenged in multiple federal courts, with those cases now on appeal in multiple jurisdictions around the country. Seattle-based Boundless Immigration spearheaded and organized the filing of the amicus brief, with major companies (full list here) like Twitter, Microsoft and LinkedIn signing onto the pleadings. The participating companies collectively employ more than a million workers and generate in excess of $1 trillion in revenue annually.

Xiao Wang, founder of Seattle startup Boundless Immigration, went against the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment afflicting the nation by launching a tech-based business some three years ago that tries to make it easier for immigrants to apply for green cards or go through the naturalization process.

“The public-charge rule would be extraordinarily bad for business. It will prevent companies from hiring many noncitizens outright, and will subject all employer-sponsored visa and green card applications to expensive and unpredictable extra scrutiny,” Wang says. “As an immigrant whose family gave up everything to pursue the American dream, the public-charge rule undermines what I’ve always believed to be the core values of the United States, that people from all walks of life should have the opportunity to make new lives for themselves and their families through ingenuity, entrepreneurship and hard work.”

The concept of a public charge in immigration law has existed for more than a century and, since 1999, it has been defined as someone who is primarily dependent on cash assistance from the government ― a rare situation for immigrants, so it has not been a barrier to immigration to date.

This past summer, however, the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security it oversees introduced harsh new rules that expanded the definition of a public charge. The proposed rules update adds a 20-factor test that goes far beyond government cash benefits and would allow U.S. immigration officials to deny visas to individuals on the basis of income, health and medical-insurance status, English proficiency and more. 

An assessment by Boundless, based on a survey of some 1,600 respondents that utilized the company’s public-charge estimator tool, determined that “non-European, non-English regions of the world,” including Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, would be “more likely to be categorized as high risk” under the new rules and denied visas. Through Boundless’ online platform, immigrants can complete all the government forms required to apply for a green card or naturalization, obtain legal assistance and have the documents delivered to the proper government agency.

“The public-charge rule will add an unprecedented level of complexity and subjectivity onto the immigration system,” Wang says. “This country and the major employers represented in this filing are made better by talented and hard-working immigrants. We will continue to fight back against this administration’s efforts to deter, delay, and deny legal immigration.”

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