New Trump Order on Work Visas Will Have Chilling Effect on Michigan’s Economy

June 23, 2020

Steve Tobocman |  (313) 516-9681 |
Kristin Palm | (313) 618-2651 |

New Trump order on work visas will have chilling effect on Michigan’s economy

America cannot scapegoat our way out of a pandemic,” says Global Detroit’s executive director

Despite strong opposition of business groups and even nine Republican Senators, yesterday President Trump expanded his April 22, 2020 Proclamation restricting immigration in ways that will have a chilling effect on the economy of Michigan. The expanded policy bars new immigrants on temporary employment of skilled workers in specialty occupations (H-1B) visas, temporary non-agricultural guest workers (H-2B) visas, cultural and educational exchange (J-1) visas with a few narrow exceptions including physicians and research scholars, and intracompany transfers for multinational companies (L-1) visas from working in the U.S. through the end of the year. The Executive Order also will make it more difficult for those seeking asylum in the U.S. to work while waiting for their claims to be adjudicated.

These measures are estimated to block hundreds of thousands qualified and needed workers from coming to the U.S. The order impacts a wide range of industries, from landscaping, summer camps, nannies to automotive design, advanced manufacturing and technology firms. U.S.-based companies employ these international workers at considerable cost because they fill critical needs, enabling these companies to compete globally, provide important services, and employ more U.S. workers.

“Immigrants play a critical role in our communities as workers, as employers and as neighbors. Many are essential workers who are literally saving our lives,” says Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit, a regional economic development organization focused on immigrant inclusion. “Contrary to myth, immigrants are job-creators and they are essential in countless ways to Michigan’s recovery as our state re-opens. This is another political diversion on behalf of our president that severely harms all Michiganders. The repercussions of this act will be felt for years to come.”

The overwhelming negative impact of this move on Michigan’s economy will be drastic. Far from hurting American jobs, restricting skilled workers in specialty occupations, like those covered by the H-1B program, numerous studies have demonstrated that these workers create additional U.S. jobs by filling critical needs and enhancing U.S. competitiveness. The American Immigration Council notes that an increase in H-1B visas could create an estimated 1.3 million new jobs and add around $158 billion to gross domestic product in the United States by 2045 and that, conversely, had the U.S. government not rejected 178,000 H-1B visa petitions in computer-related fields in the 2007 and 2008 visa lotteries, U.S. metropolitan areas could have created as many as 231,224 tech jobs for U.S.-born workers in the two years that followed.

“The President has been clear from Day One. He is opposed to immigration in all its forms. Earlier in his term he indicated his support for legislation to cut U.S. immigration in half,” notes Tobocman. “Yesterday’s measures are nothing more than President Trump’s blatant attempt to leverage the political moment to play to the fears of his base supporters who are rightfully concerned about our economic future. Unfortunately, America cannot scapegoat our way out of a pandemic.”


Global Detroit is a regional economic development organization that develops and implements immigrant-inclusive policies, practices and programs to drive the revitalization of Detroit and the sustained prosperity of Southeast Michigan.