Whether you agree with President Trump’s policies or not, everyone can agree that the new President has definitely started his first term in office with plenty of sound and fury. Whether it signifies nothing or not is yet to be seen. However, many business owners are wondering how his ideology and campaign agenda will affect business. Are they looking at massive changes in regulations, hiring practices, insurance laws or is it just going to be business as usual?
Trump claims to be a friend of business; his recently signed executive order pledging to repeal two existing regulations for every new one, a promise to reduce business tax rates to 15%, his appointment of Linda McMahon to the SBA, Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court all seem to indicate he is moving in that direction. NFIB CEO and President commended Trump on his address to Congress (2.28.17), stating “President Trump delivered a very strong economic message that hit the right notes,” regarding tax reform, repealing the affordable care act and reducing business regulations.
But its Trump’s other agenda, i.e., his crackdown on illegal immigrants that has some businesses worried. Trump’s push to tighten our borders may provide some unanticipated challenges for business owners, they include:
- The controversial travel ban to the U.S. from specific countries
- A limit on H-1B and other visas allowing foreigners to come to the U.S. to work
- Stricter enforcement of the E-Verify system that is meant to screen these workers.
As such, many businesses are wondering how Trump’s immigration plans will affect their staffing strategies, business travel and expansion plans.
Trump is suggesting that this crackdown and his “America first” agenda is meant to create new jobs, but many are skeptical if that will truly be the case. While we tend to think of immigrants taking low paying jobs and therefore having little effect on business, according to a recent survey conducted by Envoy, an immigration service provider, 63% of U.S. employers describe foreign workers as being extremely important to their company’s recruiting and hiring strategies. Many would be surprised to know that a majority of new patents in the U.S. are registered by non-U.S. citizens.
Additionally, immigrants have been responsible for some of the most successful U.S. startup companies, which in turn, has created many jobs for U.S. citizens.
Foreigners have always been a crucial source of talent across all industries, and if qualified options are not available in the U.S. talent pool, companies may be looking to move or expand their offices outside of the U.S. or outsource some of their tasks to foreign companies. In addition, companies will be hesitant to send current employees to overseas conferences, short term assignments or client meetings, further limiting a company’s growth potential.
Additionally, Trump’s strict policies have more dire consequences, says immigration lawyer, Austin T. Fragomen Jr., (Fragomen, Bernsen & Loewy), “making the U.S. an undesirable location because of the unpredictably, sends a very negative message,” and will further scare qualified foreign workers from taking U.S. jobs. Giselle Carson, a corporate lawyer who litigates for many companies employing immigrants, echoes this sentiment, stating, “The Trump administration actions sends a message to talented foreign nationals that ‘You’re not welcome,’ and we don’t want to send a message that we’re closing our doors and closing our borders.”
This leaves many businesses wondering, what’s a company to do in the face of Trump’s obvious commitment to his hard stance on immigration? While the uncertainty at this time makes it difficult to come up with a concrete plan, there are several things a business owner can do right now to ensure that if the immigration hammer does fall, he is not left crushed by it.
- Make sure you are up to date on immigration policy, including not just hiring policy, but firing policy, as well, which can have additional ramifications to the firing of an U.S. Citizen.
- Know the legal status of all your foreign employees, including being on the lookout for discrepancies in any employee’s information. Employers have an obligation to verify the identity and visa status through the I-9 process. While this process is old news, the increased enforcement, with risk of imprisonment for not complying is relatively new and can have dire consequences for a business owner. Businesses should be aware that as of this January, a new I-9 form has been introduced, which will most likely mean more government scrutinization, inter-agency cross referencing and stricter enforcement.
- Many recruiting firms suggest using these immigration policy changes as an opportunity to train and create better workers from your current talent pool.
Seems a bit overwhelming, no?
This is of course where a PEO comes into play. (You had to know a PEO was going to come up at some point.) Partnering with a PEO to provide your HR solutions can help you with all of the above items. Through providing assistance with recruiting and hiring, a PEO can help you strategize to hire qualified employees from the U.S., along with generous employee benefit packages that PEOs can provide can also help attract and retain these employees. A PEO firm stays on top of immigration law, so you don’t have to, ensuring that you’re always compliant. It is always a good idea to reach out to your PEO to review your current immigration and policy procedure to ensure compliance and to review any new and/or applicable laws that may pertain to your specific workforce.
Finally, through offering employee training programs, a PEO can help you build up a better workforce internally, which may be the direction business owners are going to need to begin considering.
So while Trump definitely does seem to be a great friend to business, we can only hope that he keeps in mind how his need to “build a wall” can and will affect U.S. businesses.