Seven words that helped me feel better about Trump’s immigration actions
Upset with the chaos caused by President Trump’s immigration moves this weekend? You have a right to be. The order has caused pain for many individuals and caused disruption and uncertainty for large tech companies and others in the business community – not just for its intent but in the chaotic and amateurish way it was carried out.
So you have good reason to be upset. But please – we should all calm down. If you’re a business executive or owner like me, then we need to put our emotions aside, deal with the facts and keep our eyes on the ball. Let’s try and look at the bright side. I know it may be asking a lot, but let’s give the government the benefit of the doubt.
It’s a long shot, but maybe, after 90 or 120 days, the Trump administration figures out a better solution for vetting immigrants into the country. Maybe, after a few years and a few billion dollars, they do build a wall or implement some other type of barrier that stops illegal immigrants from crossing our borders.
Maybe. And if this happens, maybe the pain of this transition will be worth it. Your business and my business may benefit. Maybe.
With that hope in mind, and putting aside the obvious reasons of security, here are seven words to think about today that have helped me feel a little better about the president’s immigration actions.
Undocumented. There are millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. There are thousands of businesses that employ them, under the table and off the books. The owners of those companies know they’re breaking the law but do it anyway to keep their costs low. Billions in payroll tax revenues have been lost because of this. A successful immigration policy would not only recover those revenues, but also create a more level playing field of competition between those companies who have bucked the system and those law abiding companies who haven’t. I personally know a lot of honest landscapers, restaurant owners, drywall businesses and other clients who would very much welcome this change.
Wages. Immigrant workers are the ones who fulfill many of the jobs that would otherwise go unfilled. They are cleaning our offices, serving us hamburgers, delivering pizzas, writing software and hammering nails. They alone make up 30 percent of the country’s construction workforce. Restrictions on immigration puts more pressure on companies to find people to do this work. Demand is already exceeding supply, so companies will need to pay more. Wages will go up. Of course, these cost increases will be passed through to consumers in the form of higher prices. But with more people working at higher wages the more money they will have to spend and hopefully the more our economy will grow past the anemic levels we’ve struggled with over the past eight years.
Dreamers. President Trump has previously indicated that he supports legislation that will offer special accommodations to keep “dreamers” – entrepreneurs, investors, U.S. educated science and technology people – here in the U.S. Although that wouldn’t completely address the restriction on foreign talent and the H1B visa mess that my company and other technology companies currently grapple with, it would help us retain some of the skilled people that we need to keep ourselves ahead of our competition – both domestic and foreign.
Healthcare. Despite the loss of healthcare coverage that many fear by the inevitable repeal of the Affordable Care Act, it’s no secret that hospitals provide emergency services to any patient that’s in serious need regardless of their insurance situation or their immigration status. With rare exception, people just aren’t left to die. In many cases, the costs of these unreimbursed procedures are absorbed by the hospital and then ultimately charged back to paying patients and insurance companies in the form of higher overall fees. A significant drop in undocumented immigrants would have a positive effect on this very expensive problem, and hopefully help to drive down healthcare costs for both businesses and individuals.
Temporary. The ban is temporary. In only 120 days the government says it will have all of this mess solved. OK, we all know that’s unlikely to happen. It’s more likely that the ban could be extended. But there’s a timetable set and a very active press and public who are determined to make the administration stick to it. From a business perspective, this should help reduce some of the uncertainty.
Congress. A few key Republicans spoke out against the president’s immigration moves. Immigration reform, even with a Republican majority, will not be an easy sell in Congress. Bi-partisan agreement will be necessary for a long term solution. A wall will need to be funded. Departments will need to be re-organized. Many changes will be required. Businesses will have plenty of opportunities to lobby their representatives and help pass laws that make economic sense. President Trump has taken the first shot across the bow. But this battle is just getting started. Three branches. Checks and balances.
Courts. As we saw over the weekend, and as President Obama himself experienced over the course of his administration, executive orders can be challenged in court and overturned. Laws passed by Congress can be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court. As long as there are opponents to a governing political party– and there always will be – their actions and laws can be contested, stayed and even reversed. Again: three branches, checks and balances.
Am I being naïve in thinking that all of this will happen? Maybe. But given all that’s just happened over this past weekend, these seven words have helped me calm down a little and stay focused on running my company. I hope they do for you too.