Opinion

Why The Travel Ban Is Bad For U.S. Business

By Michael Posner

Michael Posner

From the outset, the American economy has been fueled by the energy, determination and talent of generations of new immigrants.

The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the visa ban is a piece of President Donald Trump’s broader efforts to drastically curtail immigration into the United States. A centerpiece of his “America First” agenda, Trump’s anti-immigration offensive also involves seeking to deport the so-called Dreamers and deter Central Americans from crossing the southern border by separating parents from their children. The message is clear: America is slamming the door on new immigrants, especially those coming from the global South.  The harmful human consequences of these restrictive measures are painfully obvious. Globally, the defeat of the US candidate to lead the UN’s migration agency, the International Organization for Migration, is but the latest illustration of America’s diminished standing in the world. At home, the images of detained children longing for their parents are now seared in our consciences.  What is less obvious but also significant are the negative effects these restrictions are having on US businesses and our economic vitality more generally.

From the outset, the American economy has been fueled by the energy, determination and talent of generations of new immigrants. President John F. Kennedy examined our early history in his book A Nation of Immigrants, noting that “What Alexis de Tocqueville saw in America was a society of immigrants, each of whom had begun life anew and on an equal footing. This was the secret of America; a nation of people with a fresh memory of old traditions who dared to explore new frontiers.”

For more than two centuries, America has been the destination of choice for millions of restless people looking to improve their lives, many of them the best and brightest in their own societies. In each generation, immigrants have played a vital role in propelling the American economy forward.  Today, for example, as jobs have shifted to the technology sector, immigrants like Andy Grove of Intel, Google’s Sergei Brin, and Sadya Nadella of Microsoft have helped make and keep our country competitive and strong. Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, reflected on this phenomenon, noting: “In many ways, immigrants know what Americanism is better than we do…They wanted to be part of our raucous drama, and they wanted the three m’s – money, mobility, and meritocracy.” She urged that “to succeed we must draw from our newcomers the toughness and resilience of sprit that have nurtured America since its birth.”

Read the full Forbes article.

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Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.