Coalition Letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 7:30pm

BridgeUSA Coalition

BridgeUSA Coalition
February 16, 2021
The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
United States Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Secretary Blinken:

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of State. As sponsors, host employers, and
associations that represent the Department of State’s BridgeUSA Exchange Program (formerly the J -1
Exchange Visitor Program), we look forward to working with you and your team.
We are heartened by your recent comments to State Department employees during which you
highlighted how people-to-people exchanges, “bring our world closer together and convey the best of
America to the world, especially its young people.”

We urge you to work with President Biden to ensure that Presidential Proclamation 10052,
“Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market Following the
Coronavirus Outbreak” is rescinded as soon as possible.

The BridgeUSA programs advance American economic growth and national security and enhance
peace in our world through their engagement with young people. BridgeUSA programs:

  • Stimulate more than $1.2 billion in American economic activity, support jobs for Americans in nearly every state and in many sectors of the U.S. economy, and as au pairs provide crucially childcare to more than 17,000 American families. These include the families of medical personnel supporting America’s COVID response and hundreds of military families who could not continue their military service without the support of these programs
  • Advance U.S. national interests by enhancing mutual understanding between the U.S. and people from other countries. As shown in a 2017 study by EurekaFacts, more than 75% of Summer Work Travel (SWT) exchange visitors return to their home countries with a more positive opinion of the United States, and more than 90% would recommend the program to their peers.
  • Operate at virtually no cost to the American taxpayer, support American jobs, and contribute $5, 700 per participant to local economies, more than a half-billion dollars nationally according to EurekaFacts.

The pandemic and Presidential Proclamation 10052 have greatly impacted BridgeUSA programs. The
2020 Summer Work Travel Program from May – September comprised 93% fewer participants than
2019 levels. The same was true across the other exchange visitor categories forcing many sponsors to
reduce staffing by 60% or greater amounting to a devastating loss of program administration
knowledge if the 2021 season is further delayed under the shadow of the proclamation. When Proclamation 10052 is rescinded, the process of restoring confidence in these critical public diplomacy programs can begin again. Thank you in advance for your consideration. We are happy to work with the Department to answer any questions or discuss this in more detail with your staff.