Why is Washington State mounting such a vigorous challenge to President Trump's executive order temporarily suspending non-American entry from seven terrorism-plagued countries? Of course there are several lawsuits against the president, and there are lots of motives among the various litigants. But Washington State's is the suit that stopped the order, at least temporarily. And a look at the state's case suggests that, behind high-minded rhetoric about religious liberty and constitutional protections, there is a lot of money at stake.
Judging by the briefs filed by Washington State, as well as statements made by its representatives, some of the state's top priorities in challenging Trump are: 1) To ensure an uninterrupted supply of relatively low-wage H-1B foreign workers for Microsoft and other state businesses; 2) To ensure a continuing flow of high-tuition-paying foreign student visa holders; and 3) To preserve the flow of tax revenues that results from those and other sources.
To the first factor, Washington State argued that its residents have suffered from the Trump order, or might suffer in the future, because some of the state's biggest businesses rely on H-1B visas, which are often used to bring foreign workers to U.S. companies at lower wages than their American counterparts.
"The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa program," the Washington State lawsuit said. "Microsoft, a corporation headquartered in Redmond, Washington, is the state's top employer of high-tech — or H-1B visa holders and employs nearly 5,000 people through the program. Other Washington-based companies, including Amazon, Expedia, and Starbucks, employ thousands of H-1B visa holders."