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U.S. Corporations Join Forces and Voices for immigration reform

2019 Sees a growing number of U.S. Corporations join immigration corporate roundtables to get their voices heard

It’s not easy to deliver Immigration news without mentioning the recent activities of the Trump administration. The focus of the news has over recent months largely concentrated on policies and protocols instigated to stem the numbers of immigrants entering the U.S. across the southern border. But what might be the knock-on effects of the current immigration climate to U.S. businesses and the wider economy? With U.S. Corporations now forming their own Immigration initiatives in line with recent hard-line changes, what if anything can businesses do to help themselves?

The foreign born agricultural workforce continues to shrink

Whilst these corporate immigration coalitions are not necessarily pointing the finger at the current administration, they firmly believe that the immigration reform they seek is still not within their reach. In a recent article by Tovin Lapan of Fortune, ( ), it is clearly highlighted that the H2-A Visa program for Temporary Agricultural workers is just not pliable enough to suit the needs of produce growers in the U.S.

“The foreign born [agricultural] workforce is shrinking in size and there aren’t so many clear solutions on the table today for where that workforce is going to come from in the future. This is a significant threat to our business, and any U.S. company in the fresh fruit and vegetable business.” said Soren Bjorn, The President of Driscoll in the Fortune article.

Following on from this earlier this month, various companies joined forces under an initiative introduced by the National Immigration Forum who jointly signed on to a “New American Workforce” public letter which promotes immigrant integration, including citizenship drives, English courses, policy support and community services.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 there were 28,000,000 foreign born workers in the U.S. which represented approximately 17% of the entire U.S. workforce. There are many who believe this number will be depleted if Congress remain ineffective in echoing their corporate voices. So, whilst the Trump administration is not directly responsible for 100% of the current immigration landscape, what is clear, is that this year has so far seen a real growth in the proactive rallying of corporate coalitions formed by a broad group of large U.S. corporations.

“America First” benefiting Canada

And even though the label of ‘inflexible’ given to the H2-A Visa program comes with a legacy, there are other areas where perhaps the current administration has had more of a direct influence? Take Trump’s ‘America First’ Trade and Immigration policy, which ironically after two and a half years in, appears to be benefiting only Canada at the moment as a direct result of Trump’s China trade tariffs.

According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, “Canada’s share of total Chinese imports of wheat has rocketed above 60% in (Marketing Year) 2018/19, up from 32% in 2017/18, as U.S. wheat exports to China have plunged.” In essence, total American agricultural exports to China have fallen from $24 billion in 2014 to $9.1 billion in 2018.

From an immigration perspective, restrictive policies have also seen Canada benefit from a fall in international student enrollment at U.S. universities by over 6% for the 2017/2018 academic year, whilst Canadian international student enrolment numbers saw a rise of 20% and 16% respectively in 2017 and 2018.

H1-B Denials at “historical levels”

Australia have also benefited from a new influx of international students due the restrictive immigration policies and trade tariffs with China. With the H1-B Visa program being the only effective way for Students to study long term in the U.S. “historic levels” of denied H1-B applications have been reported by the National Foundation for American Policy research. Add to this the fact that the Trump administration put in place a measure that would restrict or eliminate the ability of international students to work on Optional Practical Training following graduation and contrast with Canada’s immigration policy of International students graduating after 2 years of study becoming eligible for 3-year open work permits, then it is hardly surprising U.S. numbers are falling. You can read more about this subject in this recent article published by Forbes.

How can Fong Ilagan help you with your employment- based immigration matters?

Whether you are an employee, prospective employee or employer with an employment based visa question, simply contact us today at: 713.772.2300 – Our experienced immigration Attorneys are experts in all fields of immigration and shall look forward to helping you with your immigration needs.



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