Are Trump’s Immigration Policies Bad For Business?

The New York Times just published an article entitled: Companies Say Trump Is Hurting Business by Limiting Legal Immigration.

That’s a pretty big statement, but it follows the logic of my recent blog post entitled: Immigrants Have a Positive Impact on the Economy, Why Are We Trying To Block Them?

While the policy of separating families at the border have been headline news, last year’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order that directed government officials to “rigorously enforce” immigration laws has serious consequences for US companies. The April 2017 order, followed by legislation that aims to cut legal immigration in half, means that this summer saw less immigrant workers than before, and that means some very real problems for businesses that rely on those migrant workers.

How does this affect US businesses?

Business owners say the increased red tape has made it harder to secure employment-based visas. That has added to the difficulty of finding qualified workers with the unemployment rate falling to its current low of 3.9%.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) the denial rate for H-1B visa petitions for skilled foreign workers had increased 41 percent in the last three months of 2017, even though H-1B visa holders contribute to productivity growth and  lead to higher wages for US citizens.

As I said in my previous blog post on the subject, immigrant workers often perform jobs that are less attractive to native born workers. With less immigrants around, US citizens are not necessarily flooding in to fill the void of fruit pickers or building maintenance.

Moreover, US citizens are unable to perform many higher level duties in science, engineering and technology, while immigrants meet these challenges.

Yet we’re seeing more visas refused in advanced employment categories as well.

How do immigrants help our workforce?

A May 2018 study done by the NFAP that specifically looked at the effects of immigrant workers on US born workers confirmed earlier studies on the positive impact of immigrant workers:

  • Immigrants workers reduce the unemployment rate in the US
  • Immigrant workers raise the labor force participation rate in the US
  • There is no evidence of significant adverse effects among less-educated US-born workers
  • Immigration appears to boost labor force participation among more-educated US-born workers.
  • Having more immigrants overall does not significantly affect US natives’ unemployment or labor force participation rate.

Immigrants not only enrich our economy, they enrich our culture, and are a part of the fabric of our great country. After all, unless you are Native American, we are all ultimately immigrants here

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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