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America’s Top Business Leaders Challenge Trump’s Immigration Policy

— August 24, 2018

Dozens of America’s top business leaders have challenged the Trump administration’s immigration policy, saying the White House’s approach to labor is endangering the economy.

Some 59 CEOs and top-level executives composed and signed a letter to the White House, claiming that Trump’s heavy-handed take on immigration threatens the livelihoods of skilled foreign workers. Each of the leaders belongs to the Business Roundtable, a corporate advocacy organization.

The letter was delivered to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson late Wednesday. Notable signatories include Apple’s Tim Cook, Ginni Rometty of IBM and Pepsi’s departing head, Indra Nooyi.

The New York Times notes that the letter was delivered to Nielson during a week of frenzied political debate. President Donald Trump has used the killing of an Iowa college student, Mollie Tibbetts, by an undocumented alien as evidence for the need to tighten immigration laws.

Business leaders, say the Times, have had a tenuous relationship with the commander-in-chief. While many CEOs have praised his tax cuts and regulatory rescissions, others have ‘deplored’ the administration’s isolationism. The Business Roundtable has, in the past, condemned the forced family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border as ‘cruel and contrary to American values.’

In their Wednesday letter, members of the Roundtable called new immigration enforcement guidelines ‘arbitrary and inconsistent,’ creating obstacles to skilled workers hoping to immigrate to the United States.

Gurgaon, one of India’s technology hubs. Trump’s immigration policies have caused considerable vexation overseas, especially in South and East Asia. Chinese and Indian immigrants constitute the bulk of H1-B visa recipients and constitute an important core of America’s technology sector. Image by Ryan J. Farrick.

The changes, say CEOs, are “causing considerable anxiety for many thousands of our employees while threatening to disrupt company operations.”

An ever-growing portion of Americas’ technology-related positions are being filled by overseas workers, many of whom hail from East Asia and India. The most common type of visa provided to educated, in-demand immigrants are H1-B visas. The Times says regulatory changes have led to a ‘sharp increase in the number of denials and requests for more information.’

A recent analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, referenced by the New York Times, found that the ‘denial rate for H1-B visa petitions had increased 41 percent’ in the government’s fourth fiscal quarter of 2017, compared to the third quarter.

“As the federal government undertakes its legitimate review of immigration rules, it must avoid making changes that disrupt the lives of thousands of law-abiding and skilled employees, and that inflict substantial harm on US competitiveness,” said the Roundtable table.

The Times of India says that the executives criticized U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which is under Nielson’s authority. Under the Trump administration, USCIS has allegedly made ‘inconsistent’ determinations, resulting in employees who’d successfully renewed their visas multiple times being denied reauthorization.

“Together, the USCIS actions significantly increase the likelihood that a long-term employee–who has followed the rules and who has been authorized by the US government multiple times to work in the United States—will lose his or her status,” the letter said.


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