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Nearly 100 companies — including Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Uber and other big technology brands — filed a brief overnight with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, supporting Washington state’s case against President Trump’s restrictions on immigration and travel, which were temporarily suspended by a federal judge in Seattle three days ago.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson addresses reporters after court approves a temporary restraining order on Trump’s immigration ban. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Trump’s executive order “inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation, and growth,” the companies write in the amicus brief in the U.S. Justice Department’s appeal of the temporary restraining order imposed by U.S. District Judge James Robart in the case brought by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The companies argue that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution and immigration laws.

“The Order makes it more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire, and retain some of the world’s best employees. It disrupts ongoing business operations. And it threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States,” they write.

In a separate court filing, former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry and several other former national security, foreign policy and intelligence officials supported Washington state’s case, saying Trump’s executive order “ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer.”

Here’s more from the brief, filed by nearly 100 companies …

This instability and uncertainty will make it far more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to hire some of the world’s best talent—and impede them from competing in the global marketplace. Businesses and employees have little incentive to go through the laborious process of sponsoring or obtaining a visa, and relocating to the United States, if an employee may be unexpectedly halted at the border. Skilled individuals will not wish to immigrate to the country if they may be cut off without warning from their spouses, grandparents, relatives, and friends — they will not pull up roots, incur significant economic risk, and subject their family to considerable uncertainty to immigrate to the United States in the face of this instability. …

The Order’s bans on travel are also significantly impairing day-to-day business. The marketplace for today’s businesses is global. Companies routinely send employees across borders for conferences, meetings, or job rotations, and invite customers, clients, or users from abroad. Global mobility is critical to busi- nesses whose customers, suppliers, users, and workforces are spread all around the world.

Many of the signatories were represented at a high-profile meeting of the president and tech leaders in December. During the event, Trump promised to “make it a lot easier for you to trade across borders,” adding later, “anything we can do to help.” The tone among attendees was generally optimistic afterward.

But Trump’s comments and executive orders on immigration have inflamed frustrations in the tech community since then. CEOs from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Expedia, Amazon, and others have criticized the order as discriminatory and bad for business. Amazon and Expedia joined Washington state’s legal fight almost immediately, adding formal declarations of support shortly after Ferguson filed the lawsuit.

The Justice Department moved to stay the temporary restraining order on Trump’s travel ban shortly after Judge Robart granted it. Washington state and Minnesota filed a challenge to the stay overnight. The federal government has until 3 p.m. to respond. If appeals continue, the case will likely be elevated to the Supreme Court.

Watch highlights from Friday’s hearing below.

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