Tech:NYC Joins with Tech Companies Nationwide to Challenge Immigration Executive Order in Court

Yesterday, a three-judge federal appeals court panel heard oral argument on the travel ban imposed by President Trump’s recent executive order (the Order). In that case, which is being led by the State of Washington, a lower federal court blocked the Order nationwide and allowed immigrants and travelers who were previously barred by the Order to enter the country.

We are closely watching this important case. In fact, earlier this week, Tech:NYC joined with more than 120 other tech companies and organizations, including many Tech:NYC members, to submit a friend-of-the-court brief in that case to support the plaintiffs in opposing the travel ban.

We were proud to join the brief because we think the Order is morally wrong and betrays the legacy of our country—as well as our city—as a place that welcomes all, and where people from literally anywhere can make their home and pursue a better life. We said as much when we sent a letter—signed by more than 2,000 NYC tech leaders—to the White House: “America has long provided homes and futures to millions who dared to share in our collective dream. There is nowhere this is more true than New York City—home to Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and more foreign-born immigrants than any other city in the world. Your executive orders suspending entry for citizens of certain countries, even those who currently have legal status, along with limiting the refugee program, threaten those immigrants who are our current and future neighbors, friends, colleagues, customers, and even bosses.”

Even more, as the brief argues, American innovation and economic growth rely on immigration:

The tremendous impact of immigrants on America—and on American business—is not happenstance. People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination—and just plain guts. The energy they bring to America is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.

As we have noted before, immigrants are an enormous engine for America’s economy. Immigrants or their children founded more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies including Kraft, Ford, GE, and AT&T, and tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook. Collectively, these companies generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion, and employ millions of Americans.

Leaving the Order in place would jeopardize America’s standing as the preeminent place to build and grow a business. As New American Economy has noted, “[t]he American economy stands apart because, more than any other place on earth, talented people from around the globe want to come here to start their businesses.” In addition to limiting the immigration of future entrepreneurs and founders, as the brief notes, the Order presents significant operational challenges to tech businesses including hindering companies’ ability to attract talent, increasing costs for businesses, limiting the ability of U.S. companies to compete internationally, and incentivizing companies to build and grow outside of the U.S.

Tech:NYC will continue to oppose the Order and support challenges, legal or otherwise, to roll it back.

The Washington State lawsuit in which Tech:NYC is participating is one of many suits filed against the immigration Order. The University of Michigan’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse lists almost 40 court actions that are currently active against the Order. Slate published a summary of many of those lawsuits. While the specific facts underlying these cases vary, many take aim at the Order on the grounds that it deprives individuals of liberty without due process, discriminates on the basis of religion or country of origin in violation of the First Amendment, or fails to provide equal protection under the law. In total, the Attorneys General of 16 states have sued or joined lawsuits in opposition to the order including New York, California, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

In addition to court actions, opponents of the Order took to the streets and airports in literally dozens of cities over multiple days following the issuance of the Order including New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, and Houston.

And letters of opposition to the Order have come from leaders and representatives of a wide array of industries and interests. In addition to our letter, letters of opposition were also sent by more than 100 former federal officials who served under past presidents from both parties, founders and leaders of more than 100 biotech companies, over 150 former federal prosecutors and more than 35,000 leaders and followers of diverse faiths.