On Aug 16 2017 by Michele G. Madera

The Trickle-Down Effects of Trump’s Policies

Since his inauguration, President Trump has begun instituting policies that isolate the United States from the global community. This insulation is seen through the “Travel Ban” which has had chilling effects on immigration, as well as the decision to depart the Paris Climate Accord.

President Trump has done this under the philosophy that these policies support American interests and its sovereignty. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, issued tweets in response to the departure from the Paris Accord, which opine that our nation’s leadership position on a global scale has resulted in English being the dominant language in business and the dollar being its currency, and a departure from this leadership position would be negative for the United States.

When reading between Mr. Blankfein’s 140 characters and emojis, he is taking a concerned tone as to the future of the United States. He is considering that it took the United States decades to gain its position as the international leader, to have English be the recognized language of business, and the dollar being its currency. President Trump is taking this status for granted when issuing these isolated policies. By not seeing the forest for the trees, the U.S. will ultimately see a decline in its position in the world- although it may take decades to get there.

Another example of the U.S. backing away from its global leadership position is the delayed International Entrepreneur Rule (IER), which would have made the U.S. an attractive location for global entrepreneurs. IER addressed a gap in U.S. immigration procedures that prevents significant public benefits.  The IER would allow foreign entrepreneurs to be able to start their businesses in the U.S., provided they can demonstrate a substantial potential for business growth and job creation, including funding thresholds. The implementation of IER was originally set to take effect in July 27, but has been delayed until March 14, 2018, at which point the Department of Homeland Security may rescind the rule entirely.

In the wake of the Travel Ban, young innovators began to review their options. The United States already had made it difficult for foreign entrepreneurs to start their businesses here. With limitations on travel, hurdles to business creation and entrepreneurship, the U.S. will likely start losing talent that greatly benefits the U.S. economy. In 2010, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant, and in 2011, these companies employed 10% of the U.S. workforce. Further, while the U.S. is building hurdles for foreign entrepreneurs, other countries are welcoming these innovators with open arms, as they recognize that facilitating these businesses could lead to large economic boosts. Both France and Canada have put programs in place to help foreign entrepreneurs launch their companies in their country.

With limited options post-graduation and concerns about the current political environments, foreign students may seek alternate places to obtain their degrees. The U.S. economy and its universities greatly benefit from foreign students. In 2016, 1.2 million international students attended U.S. colleges and universities, contributing more than $35 billion to the U.S. economy. The numbers have been steadily rising, with a decline only after the September 11 attacks. The cause of that specific decline was not fear, but rather increased difficulty in obtaining student visas. With the Travel Ban and changes to vetting policies, the U.S. may see another decline. As of March, U.S. college applications by foreign students had declined for the 2017-2018 school year. This will have an immediate impact on economy, but the long-term effects of these students pursuing life and careers outside the U.S. could have a substantial effect on America’s future. It is also not just the direct effect of President Trump’s policies causing this change – parents of some foreign students have also cited concern over increased attacks on foreigners in the United States.

President Trump is currently working on a plan to reduce legal immigration, which is to be introduced by Senators Tom Cotton (R) of Arkansas and David Perdue (R) of Georgia later this summer, referred to as The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) bill. By 2027, this plan would halve the number of legal immigrants entering the U.S. each year by decreasing family-based immigration. To accomplish this, the proposal claims it will to decrease low-skilled immigration, with the rationale that low-skilled immigration decreases job opportunities and suppresses wages for low-skilled American workers. However, there is a split among the Republican party on curbing legal immigration. For instance, Senator Graham (R- SC) believes that the U.S. economy benefits from the economic growth and vitality that legal immigrants bring. While it seems unlikely that such a bill gets passed, there are ongoing concerns that this, paired with the other policies of the Trump administration, will further push potential immigrants away from the U.S.  Economists have already indicated that this bill will hurt the U.S. economy, especially due to our aging population and low fertility rates. Rather, economists state, immigration policies should encourage young workers to come to the U.S. to push economic growth.

It will take years, possibly decades, to understand the economic effects the President Trump’s policies and the loss of foreign students and their potential businesses will have on our country. While many are focused on the here and now of these policies, it is important to understand the precarious position that the future of the United States is in due to these insular policies, as Mr. Blankfein’s Twitter remarks point out.


Reprinted with permission from the August 16, 2017 edition of the The Legal Intelligencer© 2017 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. 
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