Immigration Under President Trump: America’s Loss is Canada’s Gain

New York City has historically been a beacon for immigrants hoping to build a new life in the United States. As America was emerging as a land of opportunity, millions of immigrants disembarked on the shores of Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay after long, treacherous journeys from their native countries, ready to chase their dreams in an unfamiliar country. The city has remained one of the most diverse regions in the world, a metropolitan melting pot where 48 percent of small business owners and 45 percent of the overall workforce are immigrants. But according to a recent profile in The New York Times, the Trump Administration’s hardline stance on immigration is threatening New York City’s status as a prime destination for immigrants, to the detriment of our nation as a whole.

The article focuses on a promising new tech startup called Datalogue, which utilizes artificial intelligence to process data for other businesses. Based in the trendy Flatiron district in the Manhattan borough, the company recently decided to expand and open a second office and hire highly skilled and educated foreign workers, well versed in software coding. Initially, Datalogue executives planned on going through the H1B visa program to secure foreign national workers. But once they evaluated the timelines involved, uncertainty of success, and increased scrutiny by the Trump Administration, they decided to open their second office in Montreal, Canada, an immigration-friendly nation where it’s possible to obtain a work visa within two weeks. [See As Trump Tightens Legal Immigration, Canada Woos Tech Firms, by Liz Robbins, The New York Times, 19.Dec.2017.]

“It’s becoming less and less [appealing] to be going to the United States,” explained Delisle, one of the founders of Datalogue, of his decision not to pursue H1B visas for his foreign-born employees. He also noted that Canada is becoming an increasingly desirable location for foreign-born workers because of the perception that its immigration system offers greater stability than the U.S. That notion has only grown stronger in the wake of the Trump Administration’s plans to retool the H1B system and enact changes that make the already laborious application process even more stringent. Compared to Canada, which this past summer debuted a new transparent, expedited permit process known as Global Skills Strategy, experts agree that the U.S. is beginning to lose its luster as the premier destination for highly skilled immigrants.

Regarding the Trump Administration’s draconian immigration policies, “We’re almost saying ‘Don’t come,'” lamented Sunil Hirani, co-founder of Manhattan based global rates exchange company trueEx. Hirani is an immigrant from India, and has begun to notice the potentially devastating effects the Trump Administration can have on New York City’s immigrant-based economy. “How can you have a ‘Come to New York City’ program if the people of New York City are going to get kicked out? How do you sell that?” And Mr. Hirani may indeed have reason to be concerned. In the spring of 2016, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation unveiled a program known as the International Innovators Initiative, or IN2NYC. The program sponsors foreign nationals entrepreneurs for cap-exempt H1B positions, allowing them to work in tandem with participating city universities. The first round of petitions, which were received before Trump took office, totaled 144. The second round received this past fall, however, yielded only 41.

Experts interviewed for the New York Times article were quick to note that New York City’s tech industry is still thriving, and Manhattan remains a promising place for talented immigrants to achieve success. But if Trump’s assault on immigration continues, we may soon see our best and brightest foreign talent choose more welcoming countries, where their talents are fully appreciated.


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