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Published On: Sun, May 14th, 2017

The Unintended Effect of the Immigration Ban on Global Business

By Bryce J Cleveland

On January 27th, 2017, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order 13769, an order aimed at protecting the nation against foreign acts of terrorism. Among the order’s many provisions, it initially suspended the United States’ refugee program for 120 days, meaning no refugees would be admitted into the country during the 120 days it would be in effect. In addition, the order’s other main provisions included restricting admission of citizens from seven countries for a period of 90 days, and suspending the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely (Jackson, Kiely, Robertson, and Farley).

Initially, the executive order was met with strong criticism by Congress and various members and outlets of the media. Only a day after the order was signed, Senator Elizabeth Warren protested the executive order’s harsh stance on immigration, claiming, “It is illegal. It is unconstitutional. It will be overturned. An attack on anyone for their religious beliefs is an attack on the very foundation of democracy”. Other members of Congress had similar viewpoints about the executive order, including Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, who stated, “This reported executive action is contrary to our values and our security… This reported executive action appears to be driven by politics and discrimination, not by recommendations from national security professionals”. With strong concerns about the executive order from members of Congress, and members of the media and general public, the executive order was challenged by several courts in states around the country. With the weaknesses of the order clearly evident, the order was eventually revoked and replaced on March 6th, 2017, and softened restrictions on immigration from several countries, including Iraq, and made a case-by-case waiver process available for refugees who were still making an attempt to enter the country.

While the executive order was criticized for its harsh stance on immigration, very few officials and members of the public considered how the “immigration ban” would ultimately affect the economy and the way the United States does business around the globe. From a more general standpoint, immigration is viewed as an important component to any country which is viewed as having a “healthy” economy. Immigrants are typically brought in with a specific set of skills, knowledge, and experience that equip them to perform jobs and services which are necessary for our economy to thrive. Without immigration, the labor supply for certain jobs which require many years of schooling and education, such as engineers, doctors, and scientists, would likely see a strong decrease, which could have a negative impact on the economy (“The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy”).

As Commander-In-Chief, one of the main issues which President Trump built his campaign around was the issue of immigration and bringing back more jobs to the United States labor force. However, by as a byproduct of the immigration ban, he could ultimately be hurting sectors of the economy which ultimately rely on immigrants as a significant supply of labor.

For example, technology companies largely came out in strong opposition to Executive Order 13769. Within the Fortune 500, over 200 companies were started by immigrants, or children of immigrants. In addition, nearly all of the top tech companies in the world have a large percentage of their employees who were from all over the world, and not just within the U.S. As a result, 97 large companies signed a 20-page amicus brief which stated their opposition against President Trump’s executive order and ban on immigration (Drange). Most of the companies were from Silicon Valley and involved in the technology industry, such as Google, Uber, Microsoft, and Netflix, among others. The opposition from the technology industry likely results not from the executive order itself, but rather the principle behind the order. While many of the companies included in the brief do not have strong ties to the countries included in the executive order, such as war-torn Syria and Yemen, they still rely on immigrant labor from all around the globe in order to sustain their business and remain successful. From their perspective, the potential threat of the United States being able to block access to immigrant labor from countries which they need access to is real, and standing up to the executive order is a means of ensuring that they won’t have to deal with this reality.

It’s clear that President Trump’s executive order was not viewed favorably by a large portion of Congress and the members of the public, however, as an unintended effect of the order, many large technology companies were upset by the news as well. As a result, we could see many of these companies expand to other locations for their operations outside of the U.S. in order to maintain relations with a strong talent network. If this were to come to fruition, we would the effect would be the exact opposite of one of President Trump’s main promises – more jobs in the United States. Instead, we could see companies continue to move overseas, ultimately leaving less jobs behind than before.

Drange, Matt. “Nearly 100 Tech Companies Join Forces In Court To Oppose Donald Trump’s Immigration Ban.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 06 Feb. 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

“The Effects of Immigration on the United States’ Economy.” Penn Wharton Budget Model. University of Pennsylvania, n.d. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

Jackson, Brooks, Eugene Kiely, Lori Robertson, and Robert Farley. “Facts on Trump’s Immigration Order.”, 06 Mar. 2017. Web. 12 Apr. 2017.

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