Google, Facebook, other big tech companies back lawsuit against ICE

Google, Facebook, other big tech companies back lawsuit against ICE
Big Tech has taken a side.
Big Tech has taken a side.
Image: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images

By Rachel Kraus

Tech companies including Google, Facebook and others just lent their legal might to a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

On July 9, Harvard and M.I.T. filed a legal complaint against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security challenging the legality of the government’s July 6 policy update that would require international students to leave the country if they are enrolled in a college or university that’s conducting classes online. 

Monday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, along with multiple Big Tech companies and trade associations, filed an “amicus brief,” or a legal letter that provides support and additional arguments on the side of one of the parties in a lawsuit. In this case, Big Tech is siding with Higher Ed.

There are 19 “amici curiae,” or signatories, of the brief. Household name tech companies in addition to Google and Facebook include Adobe Systems, Box, Dropbox, Github, LinkedIn, Microsoft, PayPal, SalesForce, Spotify, and Twitter. Protocol first reported the brief.

The basis of Harvard and MIT’s suit is that the government violated administrative procedure in a way that is “arbitrary and capricious.” The amicae add that the decision would hurt businesses and the U.S. economy, which the government is required to consider before it makes a policy change. 

It argues that jeopardizing international students’ ability to study in the United States would impact the companies’ customers, as well as their future employees, in a way that would hurt American business longterm.

“Without international students, American educational institutions face a sudden loss of critical mass—jeopardizing their ability to maintain their standards of excellence; produce research that helps keep U.S. businesses on the cutting edge of innovation; and provide the training that makes American students a strong talent pool for their future employers,” the brief reads.

Silicon Valley stood up for immigrants and visa holders during the Trump administration’s 2017 ‘Muslim Ban.’ If not just for humanitarian and common sense compassion reasons, the support makes sense for Big Tech business, too. According to the 2016 census, 71 percent of Silicon Valley tech workers are immigrants. 

You can read the full amicus brief here or embedded below.

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