Letter to the White House Regarding Possible Expansion of the President’s April 22nd Proclamation on Immigration

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 10:30am

May 26, 2020

The Honorable Larry Kudlow                               The Honorable Jared Kushner
Director                                                                  Senior Advisor to the President
National Economic Council                                  The White House
Washington, DC 20500                                        Washington, DC 20500

Dear Director Kudlow and Mr. Kushner :

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends the administration for your efforts to ensure
that businesses have all the tools necessary for a strong recovery that will return millions of
Americans back to work. Just as supportive tax and regulatory policy and access to credit are
essential for a return to growth, so is access to talent. That is why the Chamber is concerned
about the possible expansion of the President’s April 22 nd proclamation on immigration.

Legal immigrant workers are a key contribut or to U.S. economic growth . While the
negative economic impact of the pandemic has certain ly been severe, it ha s varying effects on
different sectors of the economy . For example, a recent report issued by the National Foundation
of American Policy shows that the unemployment rate for workers employed in Computer
Occupations — a sector that has historically relied upon the contributions of legal immigrant and
temporary nonimmigrant workers — was actually lower last month than it was in January.

There are many other sectors of our economy that rely upon the contribution of foreign
nationals working in the U nited States . Businesses across industries are very concerned about the
potential disruptions that will be caused if they can no longer employ valued employees that
work he re under the following visa classifications : H-1B, L -1, H-4, F-1 Optional Practical
Training (OPT) , and H -2B. Similarly, companie s that rely upon investment dollars from the EB -
5 Immigrant Investor Program are conce rned about restrictions being imposed upon th ose
individuals that have invested in their businesses. Shutting these individual s out of the chance to
contribute to an economic recovery is misguided for a host of reasons :

• H-1B specialty occupation workers are critical for companies in the innovation
sectors. An article by the CATO Institute highlights the benefits that these workers
provide on patent production, and the prospects for reduced American innovation and
productivity growth if these workers are shut out of employment. Another CATO
study shows that virtually all H-1B employers pay their H-1B workers at least the
prevailing market wage , with the vast majority of H -1B employers paying these
workers a bout 20% higher than the average market wage .

• Multinational companies often utilize the L -1 program to move senior executives , key
managers, and specialized knowledge employees into the U.S. to jumpstart new product lines, research initiatives, and business divisions. Bans imposed upon these
workers would make the U.S. a less compelling location for foreign investment .

• The Optional Practical Training program provides a critical link for international
students that have graduated from American colleges and universities to remain in the
U.S. and to receive training at an American employer post -graduation. A 2018
National Foundation for American Policy brief indicates that 22% of America’s
billion-dollar start-ups had at least one immigrant founder that came to the U.S. as a
student. Eliminating this critical talent pipeline for American businesses would
negatively impact future innovation and economic growth.

• The H -4 spousal work authorization program is a very small but critical tool that
helps various bus inesses ret ain their top talent as they wait for their H-1B workers to
obtain their green cards. A recent analysis estim ating the impact of eliminating this
program detailed a potential $7.5 bil lion hit to annual GDP and a likely reduction in
overall employment and wages for American workers.

• While we appreciate the Administration ’s recently enacted temporary measures to aid
H-2B employers in industries that are essential to the food supply chain, many other
sectors rely on H-2B workers , includ ing forestry and landscap ing firms. Many of
those firms, for example, perform essential tasks along utility corridors. Preventing
companies in these seasonal industries from meeting their critical workforce needs
will inhibit their ability to carry out their essential functions during this crucial period.

• The EB -5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program is a powerful tool to create jobs in the
U.S. This program allows eligible foreign nationals to go through a multi -step
process to obtain a green card if they make sizable investment in a U.S. business that
create s at least 10 jobs for American workers. This program should be reformed and
modernized, but eliminating this potential source of business investment during the
pandemic recovery would be counterproductive to broader economic recovery efforts.

In short, e xpanding the April 22 proclamation to categorically ban companies from
utilizing these immigrant and temporary nonimmigrant visa programs would substantially limit
the ability of many companies to help get the American economy moving again . In turn, that
would negatively impact the millions of Americans who are counting on a swift economic
recovery to return to work themselves.

Thank you again for your many efforts to support a strong economic recovery. Please do
not hesitate to contact m e if we can be of assistance in this or any other matter.

Sincerely,

Neil L. Bradley