The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council filed an amicus brief in support of a Hawaii lawsuit that led on Wednesday evening to a temporary nationwide block of President Donald Trump's latest executive order on immigration.
MassTLC, an advocacy group representing some of the largest tech companies in the state, filed the brief with the federal district court in Hawaii on Tuesday, calling the pending immigration rules illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and antithetical to the values of the Massachusetts technology industry.
The group argued that immigrants play a vital role in the tech industry, both by filling jobs that American workers cannot and by starting companies that now employ thousands of people in Massachusetts. It wrote that the executive order "substantially undermines the ability of the Massachusetts technology industry to compete in the international marketplace" by, among other things, discouraging potential investors and customer from traveling to the U.S. and discouraging talented students from studying at local universities.
MassTLC submitted the brief in support of a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii and a Muslim resident. The lawsuit argued that the executive order Trump signed on March 6 – which would temporarily ban the issuance of new travel visas to citizens of six Muslim-majority countries – violated the constitution because it discriminated against some residents based on their religion and nation of origin.
The federal judge's ruling on Wednesday evening did not decide whether or not the executive order is unconstitutional. It banned the administration from enacting the new rules until the case proceeds.
Mike Keating, an attorney at Foley Hoag that partnered with MassTLC on the brief, said he chose to support the Hawaii lawsuit, as opposed to several others filed in courts around the country, because it was the case most likely to halt the immigration rules nationally before they went into effect on March 16.
Tom Hopcroft, MassTLC's president and CEO, said the brief came out of work the coalition began after Trump's previous executive order on immigration in January. That order was similar to the current attempt at a travel ban, but also applied to current visa holders, which sent the Massachusetts tech community into a panic.
MassTLC began talking with member companies about how such a ban might affect their employees. Even after that version of the ban was thrown out by a different federal court, MassTLC remained concerned about "a broad chilling effect," Hopcroft said.