West Law Today (Reuters) – Lawyers for Chamber, Trump administration spar over need for H-1B restrictions
(Reuters) – A lawyer for the Trump administration on Monday told a federal judge in California that the “unprecedented economic emergency” triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic justified the adoption of rules limiting the H-1B visa program without first calling for public input.
At a hearing conducted via Zoom, Alexandra Saslaw of the U.S. Department of Justice told U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White in Oakland that the administration believed the restrictions on foreign labor would make it easier for American workers left unemployed amid the pandemic to find new jobs.
And that provides the “good cause” necessary to circumvent the Administrative Procedure Act’s requirement that agencies solicit and review public comments before adopting final rules, Saslaw said.
She asked White to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the pair of rules by a coalition of universities and major business groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In October, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adopted a rule limiting participation in the H-1B program, including by narrowing the definition of “specialty occupations” covered by the program. On the same day, the U.S. Department of Labor raised the minimum wages that must be paid to H-1B workers with different levels of experience.
The Chamber and the other plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed last month said the agencies violated the APA by adopting the rules without first allowing for public comment.