Judge blocks large parts of temporary work visa ban

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FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2019, photo, Leo Wang packs a suitcase at his home in San Jose, Calif. Wang has found himself trapped in an obstacle course regarding H-1B work visas for foreigners. His visa denied and his days in the United States numbered, A federal judge on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020, temporarily lifted a visa ban on a large number of work permits, undercutting a measure that the Trump administration says will protect American jobs in a pandemic-wracked economy. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SAN DIEGO – A judge on Thursday temporarily lifted a visa ban on a large number of work permits, undercutting a measure that the Trump administration says protects American jobs in a pandemic-wracked economy.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said his ruling applied to members of organizations that sued the administration — the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, TechNet, a technology industry group, and Intrax Inc., which sponsors cultural exchanges.

White, ruling in Oakland, California, said his order didn't extend beyond those groups. But he noted they are comprised of “hundreds of thousands of American businesses of all sizes from a cross-section of economic sectors,” including Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc.

Paul Hughes, an attorney for the associations, said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce alone has “more than 300,000 members of all shapes and sizes across the United States.”

The injunction, which lifts the ban while the case is being litigated, is at least a temporary setback for the administration's efforts to limit legal immigration during the coronavirus outbreak.

White, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said President Donald Trump likely acted outside bounds of his authority.

The judge wrote “there must be some measure of constraint on Presidential authority in the domestic sphere in order not to render the executive an entirely monarchical power in the immigration context, an area within clear legislative prerogative.”

The ban, which took effect in June and is scheduled to last until the end of this year, applies to H-1B visas, which are widely used by major American and Indian technology companies, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, J visas for cultural exchanges and L visas for managers and other key employees of multinational corporations.