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CEOs warn Trump administration of ‘harm’ from immigration policies

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Nielsen
Homeland
Security chief on Thursday questioned whether Russia interfered
in the US presidential election to help President Donald Trump
win, contradicting the assessment of the US intelligence
community.

Reuters

  • Sixty CEOs have sent a letter to Homeland Security
    Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denouncing policy changes they say
    are harming their companies’ immigrant workers.
  • The executives named several recent changes that make
    it more challenging for highly skilled foreign workers to renew
    or apply for visas, or obtain green cards.
  • The letter said that ultimately these changes will make
    life more difficult for their immigrant employees, and likely
    force them to take their talents elsewhere.

Dozens of prominent CEOs have sent a letter to Homeland Security
Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denouncing several recent changes to
immigration policies that they say have stoked fear among their
employees and could ultimately harm US businesses.

The letter named 60 executives — including Apple’s Tim Cook,
JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff,
PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi, BlackRock’s Larry Fink, and IBM’s Ginni
Rometty — and warned the Trump administration that its policies
will prompt highly skilled immigrants to take their talents
elsewhere.

“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 US competitiveness,” the letter read.

Over the last year and a half, the US Citizenship and Immigration
Services, or USCIS, agency has implemented a host of changes to
the country’s legal immigration system that, in many cases, make
it more difficult to apply for or renew work visas, or obtain a
green card.

The CEOs pointed to several key changes they said were negatively
affecting thousands of employees:

  • Inconsistency from immigration officers in vetting visa applications
    from workers who have had previous visas approved. “Now, any
    adjudicator can disagree with multiple prior approvals without
    explanation,” the CEOs wrote.
  • Allowing immigration officers to immediately deny visa
    applications
    without first notifying the companies and
    applicants and without asking for potentially missing
    information to be submitted. “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,” the letter said.
  • The looming elimination of H-4 visas,
    which are currently used by the spouses of skilled immigrant
    workers. “These spouses are often highly skilled in their own
    rights and have built careers and lives around their ability to
    contribute to companies here,” the letter said.
  • Deporting immigrants whose
    visa renewal or green card applications are denied while
    they’re living in the US. The CEOs said many of their employees
    fear being deported “even if they have complied with
    immigration laws and intend to promptly depart the country.”

‘Now is not the time to restrict access to talent’


tim cook
Apple
CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products at the
Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, June 4, 2018, in
San Jose, Calif.

Associated
Press/Marcio Jose Sanchez


The CEOs noted that many of the employees affected by these
changes have not only worked in the US for years and followed US
immigration laws, but they possess valuable skills that cannot
easily be found among American workers.

“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,” the letter said.

USCIS has defended many of the policy changes by arguing they
“protect the interests of United States workers” or “discourage
frivolous or substantially incomplete” applications.

But the agency has come under fire previously for what some
perceived as hostility towards legal immigrants. USCIS Director
Lee Francis Cissna stoked controversy in February when he dropped
the term “nation of immigrants” from the agency’s mission
statement.

“Who does the agency serve? I think there’s been a
misunderstanding of that one the years,” Cissna said last
week
. “People kind of naturally fall into the belief
that the individuals that we serve are the people that we
interact with every day when we take applications or petitions. I
don’t think that we serve them. We serve the people.”

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