Atlanta serves both as a gateway to the globe and a destination for legal, educated foreign workers to build out the workforce for the hub of major corporations here. The AJC’s Jim Galloway takes a look at how “In the South, the real immigration battle will be about business, not refugees”:
“But temperatures might rise because decades of Republican and Democratic strategy have staked Georgia’s economic future on an economy in which cash, goods and people can move — legally — across international borders with relative ease.
That may be about to change.
While TV cameras focused on airports that had suddenly become holding cells for foreign travelers, and the White House argued that a word perfectly suitable on Sunday and Monday just wouldn’t work on Tuesday, the draft of another White House executive order began making the rounds.
This one would restrict the flow of legal, educated foreign workers sought by companies in metro Atlanta, in Silicon Valley, and other regions where the emphasis is on technology and start-ups.
“Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers — our forgotten working people — and the jobs they hold,” read a version examined by a Bloomberg reporter.
Especially within the Republican world, the H-1B visa and other immigration tools for bringing employment talent into the U.S. have suffered a sharp reversal of fortune. Once upon a time, H-1B visas were considered an alternative to shipping jobs overseas. In 2008, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigned in favor of expanding the program.
With Trump, H-1B visas have become a zero-sum game. Every job given to a legal foreign worker becomes one lost by an American worker.
“I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions,” Trump said during the campaign – hammering primary rival U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for sponsoring legislation that, according to Trump, would have tripled the H-1B program.”