Basically The Entire Tech Industry Signs Onto A Legal Brief Opposing Trump's Exec Order

from the we-need-to-stand-up dept

I've been quite clear how I feel about Donald Trump's awful executive order that places a blanket ban on people entering the US (even if they had valid visas) from 7 countries, including a permanent block on Syrian refugees. Tons of people have been protesting this decision, and multiple courts have ruled against it. There has been some discussion over whether or not the tech industry was really going to stand up against this move, and some of the early statements about the executive order were a bit weak. However, late Sunday night, basically the entire technology industry (plus some companies from other industries as well) signed onto an amicus brief calling the order illegal and unconstitutional (technically, it's a motion asking for permission to file the amicus brief, with that brief attached).

The brief was filed in the Ninth Circuit appeals court, which is one of the first appeals courts considering the executive order, after a federal judge in Seattle issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on enforcing the exec order. On Sunday, the appeals court refused to reverse the lower court, keeping the TRO in place. However, it also gave both parties (the lawsuit itself was filed by the state of Washington) a very quick turnaround time to file written arguments to be considered.

Given that incredibly short time frame, the fact that 97 companies -- including some of the world's largest -- but also some tiny ones, like the Copia Institute (the think tank arm of Techdirt), were able to come together and not only get a detailed amicus brief together, but also get sign on from all of those companies (on Super Bowl Sunday, no less), is impressive. Having been through the process in which amicus briefs with multiple signers has been done before, normally there's lots of hemming and hawing from different companies and nitpicking over certain choices. It takes a lot of effort. Update: Another 30 companies have signed on as well.

But this issue was so important and so core and fundamental to our basic values, that basically the entire industry came together and signed onto this. You name the company, and it's probably signed on. There are the big guys: Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple (despite a false Washington Post article that claimed none of them had signed on). There are lots of other huge names as well, including Twitter, Snap, Uber, Airbnb, Lyft, Dropbox, Cloudflare, Box, eBay, GitHub, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Medium, Mozilla, Patreon, Paypal, Pinterest, Reddit, Salesforce, Spotfy, Stripe, Wikimedia, Yelp, Y Combinator and many, many more. Update: Among the notable companies in the "late" sign on, were SpaceX, Tesla, Slack, Pandora, Adobe, HP, Evernote, Udacity and more...

I highly recommend reading the full amicus brief -- which makes an economic argument, a moral argument and a legal argument all wrapped up in one.

Immigrants make many of the Nation’s greatest discoveries, and create some of the country’s most innovative and iconic companies. Immigrants are among our leading entrepreneurs, politicians, artists, and philanthropists. The experience and energy of people who come to our country to seek a better life for themselves and their children—to pursue the “American Dream”—are woven throughout the social, political, and economic fabric of the Nation.

For decades, stable U.S. immigration policy has embodied the principles that we are a people descended from immigrants, that we welcome new immigrants, and that we provide a home for refugees seeking protection. At the same time, America has long recognized the importance of protecting ourselves against those who would do us harm. But it has done so while maintaining our fundamental commitment to welcoming immigrants—through increased background checks and other controls on people seeking to enter our country.

[....]

The Order effects a sudden shift in the rules governing entry into the United States, and is inflicting substantial harm on U.S. companies. It hinders the ability of American companies to attract great talent; increases costs imposed on business; makes it more difficult for American firms to compete in the international marketplace; and gives global enterprises a new, significant incentive to build operations— and hire new employees—outside the United States.

The Order violates the immigration laws and the Constitution. In 1965, Congress prohibited discrimination on the basis of national origin precisely so that the Nation could not shut its doors to immigrants based on where they come from. Moreover, any discretion under the immigration laws must be exercised reasonably, and subject to meaningful constraints.

There's much more in the full brief, and hopefully the court allows it and recognizes how momentous this is. I've never seen anything that so many tech companies have gotten behind (including things like SOPA), and this happened so fast that it is literally unprecedented. A whole bunch of people put in a tremendous effort to actually get this done (including more than a few having to miss the Super Bowl to get this done...). Andy Pincus from Mayer Brown deserves a specific shoutout for being the main lawyer putting the brief together.

We shall see what happens from here, but having basically the entire tech industry rise up in a single voice to say that this order is not right is nice to see. In this day and age, it's easy not to speak out and to just sit on the sidelines. But this is important, and when it mattered all of these companies spoke out.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Feb 2017 @ 6:14am

    Re: The mists are clearing, I can see it now...

    Obama never banned anyone from the country. He simply issued an EO that required the full visa vetting process for people traveling from seven countries. Then later in 2015, he signed into law a bill that allows the president to designate countries, based on sound evidence, which are likely to have citizens or residents attempt to come to America for the purpose of applying for asylum without going through the proper visa process or countries which are far more likely than other nations to have active terror cells (even if those cells do not seek to target the USA in any form). Those designated countries then have a five year rolling window during which anyone who has visited those countries during that period are not eligible for automatic issuance of traveler or tourist visas and must instead go through the visa application process.

    Basically, that law changed nothing for single-nationality residents of the designated countries but did require that people with dual-citizenship with that country who had visited the county in the previous five years or who had visited the country in the previous five years would always be required to apply for a visa prior to travel to the USA even if we would normally permit them a 30 or 60 day tourist or traveler visa at a port of entry. So in effect, it only affects persons with nationalities from NATO nations, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand who had visited those designated countries in the five years prior to their application for entry into the USA.

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