GLJ-ILRF Files Amicus Brief on the Devastating Impacts of President Trump’s Latest Immigration Ban on Migrant Workers and their Families

GLJ-ILRF files amicus brief to protect the rights of migrant workers and their families and ensure the United States adopts immigration policies that are consistent with international human rights standards. 

Today, Global Labor JusticeInternational Labor Rights Forum (GLJ-ILRF) filed a brief in Gomez v. Trump, No. 20-05292 (U.S.D.C.) highlighting the devastating human and labor rights impact on migrant workers and their families of President Trump’s June 22, 2020 proclamation banning the entry of migrant workers. The Trump administration estimates that this ban will block nearly 525,000 migrant workers and their families from entering the US. Research shows that at least 1.42 million temporary foreign workers live and work annually in the U.S. across visa categories, sectors, and wage levels.

The amicus (friend of the court) brief highlights the U.S.’ international commitments that require it to ensure access to safe channels of migration and to protect migrant’s rights to due process and family integrity. But this policy separated migrant workers who had established their personal and professional lives in the U.S., from their families, including U.S. born children, without notice or minimal due process protections. As a result, these migrant workers, who had relied on U.S. immigration policies and invested significant time and resources into obtaining a work visa, are being pushed closer to poverty under internationally recognized standards of social, economic, and cultural rights.  

The U.S.’s failure to conduct the appropriate human rights due diligence before issuing the ban and its failure to respond to human rights violations when they arose is also highlighted by the amicus (friend of the court) brief. The amicus brief also includes examples of workers and their families in India and Colombia that have been harmed by the ban.  

“Human rights law and international labor standards must guide national action on labor migration programs. The Trump Administration’s failure to conduct human and labor rights due diligence before issuing the Covid Related Visa Ban left migrant workers without work, in debt recruitment fees, and in some cases separated from family,” said Jennifer (JJ) Rosenbaum, Executive Director of GLJILRF.  “The U.S. should establish labor migration programs that ensure decent work and just migration and be consistent even in times of uncertainty. This visa ban is another example of xenophobic action disguised by false claims of health, security and economic nationalism. Trump’s rhetoric and policy are backwards–protecting the working conditions, wages, and freedom of association of all workers across linked labor markets is how we avoid a race to the bottom where all workers lose.”

GLJ-ILRF is represented in the filing of the amicus brief by the International Human Rights Law Clinic, UC Berkeley, School of Law including Professor Roxanna Altholz and Clinical Teaching Fellow Astha Sharma Pokharel and law students Chelsea Muir, Ana Urgiles, and Veronica Stoever. “In just one of its latest attempts to fearmonger, further entrench xenophobia, and close down borders, the Trump Administration is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to ban migrant workers from the United States. But the United States’ international obligations do not permit such a cruel and reckless policy,” said Sharma Pokharel. “The Administration’s behavior jeopardizes workers’ ability to migrate safely, and violates their right to due process and family integrity. These international human rights protections must constrain the Administration’s actions.” 

The amicus brief supports the complaint filed by Justice Action Center (JAC) along with the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, Innovation Law Lab, and Mayer Brown (pro bono) represent the workers, unions, employers and organizations who collectively joined in the first lawsuit challenging the entirety of Trump’s June 22, 2020 COVID immigration ban.  

The complaint alleged that the June Proclamation, which effectively eliminated most of the family- and employment-based immigrant visa categories, the diversity visa program, and the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L nonimmigrant visa programs, is unlawful and unconstitutional., enables the President to continue these entry bans thereafter as long as he deems them “necessary,” and is irrational, undermining its asserted goals of protecting U.S. workers and aiding the country’s economic recovery during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

While certain aspects of the ban, specifically the ban on the diversity visa program, have been struck down by the courts, the provisions affecting temporary migrant workers remain in place.  

For more information about GLJ-ILRF’s work on labor migration, please see here



Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum (GLJ – ILRF) is a newly merged organization bringing strategic capacity to cross-sectoral work on global value chains and labor migration corridors. GLJ-ILRF holds global corporations accountable for labor rights violations in their supply chains, advances policies and laws that protect decent work and just migration, and strengthens freedom of association, new forms of bargaining, and worker organizations.