Saturday, August 25, 2018

In Letter, Tim Cook, Jamie Dimon and Other Business Leaders Blast Trump's Immigration Policies

Business leaders from 60 top companies objected this past week to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, sending a letter to the administration condemning immigration changes that are causing anxiety for employees and threatening to disrupt operations.

The letter, which was sent by members of the Business Roundtable coalition to U.S. Department of
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen, centers on the H1-B visa that provides temporary work authorizations for skilled foreign employees. The leaders cite policy changes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has issued over the past year, which they claim “significantly increase the likelihood that a long-term employee ... will lose his or her status.”

“Inconsistent government action and uncertainty undermines economic growth and American competitiveness and creates anxiety for employees who follow the law,” the letter states.

“As the federal government undertakes its legitimate review of immigration rules, it must avoid making changes that disrupt the lives of thousands of law-abiding and skilled employees, and that inflict substantial harm on U.S. competitiveness,” it reads.

The letter’s signatories include Apple CEO Tim Cook, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Jamie Dimon and chief executives from such top companies as American Express Company, AT&T Inc., the Coca-Cola Company, HP Inc., IBM Corporation, PepsiCo Inc., Visa Inc. and Verizon Communications. The New York Times reported in April that more than 40,500 companies in 2017 sponsored workers for H1-B visas, which are issued to more than 85,000 immigrants each year.

The full letter is here:

August 22, 2018

The Honorable Kirstjen M. Nielsen
Secretary, Department of Homeland Security
800 K Street, NW, #1000
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Nielsen:

On behalf of the CEO members of Business Roundtable, we write to express our
serious concern about changes in immigration policy that are causing
considerable anxiety for many thousands of our employees while threatening
to disrupt company operations.

Due to a shortage of green cards for workers, many employees find themselves
stuck in an immigration process lasting more than a decade. These employees
must repeatedly renew their temporary work visas during this lengthy and
difficult process. Out of fairness to these employees -- and to avoid
unnecessary costs and complications for American businesses -- the U.S.
government should not change the rules in the middle of the process.

Unfortunately, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued
several policy memoranda over the past year that will do just that, resulting in
arbitrary and inconsistent adjudications.

Inconsistent government action and uncertainty undermines economic growth
and American competitiveness and creates anxiety for employees who follow
the law. In many cases, these employees studied here and received degrees
from U.S. universities, often in critical STEM fields.

Although having played by the rules, our employees now face the following

• Inconsistent Immigration Decisions: On October 23, 2017, USCIS rescinded
its long-standing “deference” policy under which the government issued
consistent immigration decisions unless there was a material change in
facts or there was an error in the prior government decision. Now, any
the adjudicator can disagree with multiple prior approvals without explanation.

• Uncertainty About Required Information: On July 13, 2018, USCIS issued a memorandum that allows adjudicators to deny petitions or applications on the basis that “initial evidence” was not submitted, yet the agency offered no guidance to adjudicators on how to apply the policy. Companies now do not know whether a work visa petition that was approved last month will be approved when the company submits the identical application to extend the employee’s status. This challenge is particularly acute for companies that hire H-1B professional workers where the government has narrowed eligibility criteria without issuing guidance to adjudicators or the

• Revoked Status for Spouses: USCIS is soon expected to revoke work authorization eligibility for the H-4 spouses of H-1B employees. These spouses are often highly skilled in their own rights and have built careers and lives around their ability to contribute to companies here. Other countries allow these valuable professionals to work, so revoking their U.S. work authorization will likely cause high-skilled immigrants to take their skills to competitors outside the United States.
• Commencement of Removal Proceedings: USCIS recently announced that it will place a legal immigrant in removal (deportation) proceedings if his or her application to change or extend status is denied and he or she does not have another underlying lawful status. Our employees are concerned that they will face removal proceedings even if they have complied with immigration laws and intend to promptly depart the country.

Together, the USCIS actions significantly increase the likelihood that a long-term employee—who has followed the rules and who has been authorized by the U.S. government multiple times to work in the United States—will lose his or her status. All of this despite the Department of Labor having, in many cases, certified that no qualified U.S. workers are available to do that person’s job. Business Roundtable continues to work with Congress to reduce the green card backlog. In the interim, inconsistent immigration policies are unfair and discourage talented and highly skilled
individuals from pursuing career opportunities in the United States. The reality is that few will move their family and settle in a new country if, at any time and without notice, the government can force their immediate departure–often without explanation. At a time when the number of job vacancies are reaching historic highs due to labor shortages, now is not the time restrict access to talent.

As the federal government undertakes its legitimate review of immigration rules, it must avoid making changes that disrupt the lives of thousands of law-abiding and skilled employees, and that inflict substantial harm on U.S. competitiveness.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


The full letter with signees is here.



  1. Hmm wonder if this is about H1-B. >Click< read... "centers on the H1-B".
    There is no shortage of engineers in this country. There's a shortage of engineers willing to work 80 hours a week for cheap.

    H1-B is simply a tool to drive down wages and have more power over employees. IMO these companies would also object if the government moved in the other direction and just gave the same number or more of skilled foreigners complete and unfettered access to the US jobs market. Because it's not about a shortage of skilled people, it's about the wages they could command if there were a free market. I would be tempted in Trump's position to call their bluff, go the other direction and give long term H1-B visa holders much more job freedom.

    They don't care about the employees' well being or the well being of their spouses. I am supposed to believe they care about these immigrants more they cared about the american engineers they have train those in offshore outsourcing projects and then fire? They care about how little they can pay in salaries and benefits. If the spouses can't make an income then the H1-B employees will demand greater compensation as a result. If there fewer H1-B employees they might have to pay more them and possibly *gasp* hire the US born at a market rate.

    1. The sine qua non of liberty is choice. Enterprises, managed by free people --I woukd presume--- get to choose the workers they want to hire. You're arguing that they shouldn't, because they should be more patriotic, a non-economic consideration. What makes your thinking different than Bernie Sanders', or any other socualist? The notion that employers should pay the "marmet rate" is based on the same wrongheaded economics where the idea of a "living wage" comes from.

      You claim that H1B visa holders work 80 hours a week and paid less. Perhaps that's the case, but being the relationship between employer and employees a voluntary relationship, what makes you think you have the right to second-guess their choices? The things you like --being patriotic, for instace-- is what you value, but the things you value aren't moral imperatives just because you exist. You're nobody.

    2. As a silicon valley engineering executive, I can tell you that hiring is extremely difficult and these visas are critical to our operations. From a libertarian perspective, employers should be able to hire whomever they want without government interference.