Immigrant Advocates Sue to Halt Trump’s Immigration Ban

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on Thursday in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CN) — Immigration advocates filed a federal lawsuit against President Trump and his administration Saturday seeking an emergency order to halt his 60-day immigration ban signed earlier in the week, saying the ban would harm immigrant children.

Attorneys from the Justice Action Center, American Immigration Lawyers Association and Innovation Law Lab filed a motion for a temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court of Oregon.

The motion comes as the latest filing stemming from Doe v. Trump, a class action of immigrants seeking to stop a previous proclamation made in October of last year that required immigrants to prove they either had or could afford health insurance.

“Based on the latest data, up to an estimated 375,000 immigrants are at risk each year of being banned due to a lack of “approved” health insurance coverage, or close to two-thirds of all qualified immigrant visa applicants, many of whom are people of color,” the original complaint filed in November stated.

A federal judge halted implementation of that proclamation and is currently under review by the Ninth Circuit. Under the new proclamation, the Trump administration is denying family reunification visas, something the groups say will keep immigrant families separated.

President Donald Trump said he issued the proclamation in order to protect U.S. labor from having jobs taken away. While not a full ban, the order blocks most immigrants from receiving a green card, while allowing for the processing of visas for temporary employees, the largest group of immigrants.

“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrants, labor flown in from abroad,” Trump said Tuesday at the White House. “We must first take care of the American worker, take care of the American worker.”

“This ban on family immigration is a Trojan horse,” said Esther Sung, senior litigator with the Justice Action Center. “President Trump claims he signed it in order to protect the economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, but the reality is that our economic recovery will depend on immigrants.

“It’s yet another attempt from the administration to bypass Congress and unconstitutionally obliterate our nation’s longstanding, family-based immigration system.”

Jesse Bless, director of federal litigation for AILA, said the president’s order is irrational and is meant to serve as a political ploy amid the pandemic.

“AILA has repeatedly urged the White House and agencies to implement rational, policy-based measures that promote the public health and economic interests of our country during this national crisis rather than resort to distraction and political theater,” Bless said.

The groups argue that children of lawful permanent residents could lose preferential classification due to the immigration ban.

“A beneficiary who turns twenty-one before her application is processed or a visa becomes available in her preference category loses her qualifying “child” status and thus becomes ineligible for her preference relative classification,” the complaint states.

Under the president’s new order, children about to “age out” of their visa category would be unable to seek an emergency appointment with immigration officials, setting back their immigration prospects, according to the groups.

“This proclamation is yet another attempt by the Trump Administration to scapegoat immigrant families to further its xenophobic agenda, and is a distraction to divert attention from the administration’s dangerous mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Stephen Manning, executive director of Innovation Law Lab. “The United States’ long-standing tradition of reuniting families through its immigration system is a key component of our nation’s stability, prosperity, and collective strength.”

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