News & Events

Extended immigration ban, work visa restrictions will hurt Massachusetts

Workers from around the world power Massachusetts’ knowledge economy. Photo by Christina Morillo/Pexels.

BOSTON – In a single proclamation yesterday, President Trump extended his April order sharply curtailing legal immigration to the U.S.– including all family-based migration except for spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens – until December 31, and suspended key employment-based visas until the year’s end.

Based on fiscal 2019 data, the Migration Policy Institute has estimated that 167,000 workers will be affected by the visa suspension; another 158,000 people will be barred from entry based on the extension of the immigration ban.

Eva A. Millona, president and CEO of the MIRA Coalition, has the following statement:

“This order is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to use COVID-19 as a pretext to advance an extreme nativist agenda. Presented as a measure to protect American jobs, it will actually hurt thousands of families and hinder the operations of some of our most successful and innovative companies and institutions, which create jobs for millions of Americans.

“The proclamation ignores the fact that the H-1B, H-2B and J programs include specific safeguards to protect American workers. And L visas are for existing employees or executives of a company to temporarily move to a U.S. office. Extensive data show that these workers do not compete with U.S. labor; they complement it. If due to COVID-19, employers find that they have plenty of local candidates for the jobs they need to fill, they will not go to the trouble and expense of hiring from abroad instead.

“The high-skilled workers admitted with H-1B visas are especially valuable to Massachusetts’ economy, as they fill critical gaps in our work force in science, technology and engineering. H-1B visas also enable U.S. employers to hire talented graduates of advanced programs in our colleges and universities who would otherwise return immediately to their home countries. America is richer for having H-1B workers, and this proclamation will make us poorer.

“This needless, politically motivated order will wreak havoc on these workers’ lives, and it will create difficulties for employers who were already struggling to recover from the severe disruptions caused by COVID-19. It is also ironic that at a time when America is relying on global talent to develop effective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, including at major Boston-area universities and companies, the president is choosing to paint equally valuable H-1B workers in other industries as a threat to our economy.

“We must also stress that 80% of the people who will be shut out by the immigration ban extension are family members of U.S. citizens and spouses and children of green card holders. This is just another form of family separation – wanton cruelty in the name of American jobs. We expect this proclamation will be promptly challenged in court. We urge elected officials in Massachusetts and nationwide to join us in vigorously opposing this harmful policy.”

Read MIRA’s analysis of the proclamation and its impact on Massachusetts