The spring and summer of 2020 saw a dramatic acceleration in the Trump administration’s measures to restrict the entry of immigrants to the United States.
Following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House issued a series of proclamations that effectively restricted entry to the United States from many countries, including Brazil, Iran, and the Schengen countries of Europe. Two of the most damaging proclamations were passed in April and June, respectively. The April proclamation suspended entry to the United States for immigrants who were outside the United States or did not have a valid visa on the proclamation’s effective date of April 24.
Although this proclamation was only supposed to last two months, it was extended until December 31 and could still be extended by the president. A similar proclamation was issued on June 22 prohibiting entry into the United States to foreign nationals who did not have a valid visa in certain specific categories of guest workers like the H-1B and L-1.
Like its predecessor, the June proclamation will not expire until at least December 31, and may also be extended at the discretion of the president.
Supporters and members of the administration have argued that these proclamations are necessary to protect American workers during a time of unprecedented economic contraction.
Yet the facts speak differently: immigrants have made and continue to make important contributions to our regional economy. Take one of the most well-known guest worker visas – the H-1B, for specialized professions such as engineers or computer scientists. Long before the pandemic hit, Michigan employers relied on H-1B workers to fill highly skilled positions. In fiscal 2019 alone, Michigan employers were granted 4,350 H-1B visas to attract talent to fill skills gaps. Ultimately, these H-1B guest workers help Michigan businesses grow and hire more American workers. A study conducted by the Partnership for a New U.S. Economy found that more than 21,800 jobs for U.S.-born workers in Michigan were created between 2010 and 2013 thanks to H-1B workers.
Other guest worker visas, such as the L-1 visa for executives, managers, or foreign workers with specialized knowledge, produce similar economic multipliers for our state. These workers often come to help set up or manage Michigan-based offices for foreign companies and, as such, play a major role in stimulating foreign direct investment in our state.
Indeed, a report released by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development and Community Affairs shows that the county attracted $ 575 million in domestic and foreign investment in 2019, of which 41% came from headquartered companies. is located outside of the United States. Indeed, immigrant-owned businesses employed more than 167,000 Michiganders in 2018, contributed $ 7.1 billion in taxes, and had purchasing power of $ 18.4 million.
In fact, many of the jobs lost due to the coronavirus pandemic were not in industries that typically employ immigrants. Unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment rates for service occupations fell from 4.2% (June 2019) to 18.8% (June 2020), computer and math occupations only increased than 1.5% (June 2019) to 4.3% (June 2020). ), while healthcare professionals and technical professions fell from 1.5% (June 2019) to 4.2% (June 2020).
These statistics show that job losses have been highest in low-skilled service occupations and that demand for more skilled workers in IT and healthcare continues.
Even with the high unemployment figures produced by COVID-19, U.S. businesses are still struggling to find skilled talent. The effects of the Trump administration’s proclamations will only worsen this situation, causing companies to either relocate their facilities to another country or become increasingly disadvantaged as their competitors in other countries instead attract these workers. . The Information Technology Industry Council, made up of representatives from leading IT companies, has called on the White House to reconsider its restrictive immigration policy.
The United States Chamber of Commerce and three other litigants have gone further and taken the unprecedented step of suing the Trump administration, saying the proclamations exceed the president’s legitimate authority. Litigators from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Justice Action Center, and the Innovation Law Lab have also filed a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s entire immigration bans.
Business leaders, tech giants and social justice groups all agree – the president’s restrictive proclamations are both morally wrong and economically counterproductive.
Keeping skilled immigrants out of the United States will continue to hamper Michigan and the nation’s economic recovery. We encourage the Trump administration to reverse its short-sighted restriction policy soon so that the Michiganders, who already suffer from the terrible burden of COVID-19, do not have to endure an unnecessarily prolonged recession due to the unavailability of skilled talents.