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Immigrant-Laden Tech Industry Takes Trump To Court Over Immigration Ban

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

A consortium of 97 companies, including tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, filed a legal brief Sunday opposing the Trump administration’s executive order on restricting immigration.

A majority of the involved businesses are from Silicon Valley, the colloquial term for the region and people within the tech hub in the larger San Francisco area. Roughly 37 percent of the Silicon Valley region is foreign born, according to a report by the Institute for Regional Studies.

“These companies’ operations are affected by the Executive Order,” the official Amici Curiae brief reads. “The Order represents a significant departure from the principles of fairness and predictability that have governed the immigration system of the United States for more than fifty years–and the Order inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth as a result.”

Amicus (or “friend of the court”) briefs are legal documents that are officially filed by parties not directly involved in the case, but have a direct interest in the subject at hand. The brief composed by the business group was filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit court is expected to soon rule on an official appeal by the Trump administration after a federal judge in Washington stopped the immigration ban.

The companies argue that the executive order will make it “more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees” while also disrupting normal business operations. They also claim that such immigration restrictions will make it difficult to “attract talent, business, and investment” to the United States in general. (RELATED: Silicon Valley Loses Its Mind After Trump Wins)

Immigrants started more than half of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion or more as of March 2016, according to a study conducted by the National Foundation for American Policy. It is also estimated that 70 percent of the major management and product development positions at these companies are held by immigrants.

Tech companies often contend that they need to harness people from around the world because there isn’t a sufficient supply of human talent in the U.S.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, one of the signees of the legal brief, asked a Senate subcommittee for an unlimited number of H-1B visas in 2007, according to NBC News.

Microsoft announced in July of 2015 that it was going to layoff approximately 7,800 employees worldwide, with a portion of the firings affecting Americans.

“Microsoft has shed roughly 1/5th of its workforce in the past couple years,” Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And yet Microsoft, perhaps more than any other major U.S. company, has claimed it suffers from a shortage of capable American workers and must therefore import more H-1B foreign guest workers.”

According to a study conducted by expert researchers, H-1B visas are not beneficial for American workers.

“Overall our results are more supportive of the second narrative, in which marginal H-1Bs crowd out other workers, are paid less than alternative workers, and increase the firm’s profits–despite little effect on measures of the quantity of firm innovation,” the official reports reads.

 Big businesses, though, are asserting that restricting immigration is not only discriminatory and wrong, but also bad for the economy.

“The Order discriminates on the basis of nationality. Immigration law contains a clear command: in issuing visas and making admission decisions, immigration officials cannot discriminate based on an alien’s nationality, race, sex, or any other invidious classification,” the amici brief reads. “The Order violates that commitment, and harms the Nation’s economy and competitiveness in the process.”

Several tech companies and their leaders were planning on meeting to discuss how to combat President Donald Trump’s immigration ban after it was announced, including the possibility of legal action. The CEO of Apple and Amazon both recently said they were considering some sort of legal action against Trump’s immigration orders. But unlike Apple, Amazon is not listed as a participant of the amici brief.

The CEO of Uber, the ride-sharing service and one of many signees of the filing, decided to withdraw from Trump’s economic advisory team after receiving a great deal of flak both internally and externally for the role. (RELATED: There’s A Quantifiable Reason Why Uber’s CEO Quit Trump’s Econ Team)

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