Business Monday

How CEOs are responding to Trump’s immigration policies

President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 2. On Jan. 27, his administration released the executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”
President Donald Trump speaks during his meeting with House and Senate legislators in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Feb. 2. On Jan. 27, his administration released the executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” AP

This week’s question: Does your company employ workers and interns who hold green cards or student visas? How do you think President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries will affect American businesses and our standing in the world?

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We do not employ workers or interns who hold green cards or student visas. We have had volunteer interns with student visas but none came from the seven countries outlined in the Executive Order. Leading U.S. companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Ford, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft came out against the policy so I have no doubt that this ban would affect business and talent negatively. America’s economic strength is based on attracting the best and the brightest to come build a better country and a better future.

Laurie Kaye Davis, executive director, The Commonwealth Institute South Florida

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Miami has benefited from the globalization of our economy. Our growth is bolstered by inbound investment and multinational companies continuing to use our city as a launch pad for their international expansion efforts. If we are no longer in a position to attract the best and brightest, from wherever they come, the U.S. would clearly be at a disadvantage. Our nation became great because of the contributions of all of the immigrants welcomed to these lands. We are a nation of laws and fortunately, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals has preliminarily determined unanimously that a ban of this nature is unconstitutional.

Albert E. Dotson Jr., partner, Bilzin Sumberg

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As a company that has served the financial needs of businesses and individuals exclusively in Miami-Dade county for more than 40 years, TotalBank has built a strategy around hiring the best local talent with a high level of experience in this unique market. This strategy enables us to have qualified decision makers that we empower to deliver to our clients. Based upon the types of candidates we are seeking, these are generally not student visa holders and a very small portion would be green card holders.

Jay Pelham, president, TotalBank

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Our academic programs attract students from all over the world who attend JWU on a student visa. For those who wish to work, the law states that they can only work at the institution they attend, so many of these students work in various departments on our campus. It is too soon to determine the true impact of the temporary ban on business. The primary concern will be how employees respond in the workplace. As we look at the current landscape, there are employees throughout all industries who have shown concern, but their concern is based on uncertainty. Over time, we will need to gauge the actual long-term effect on morale, but it is certainly something that should be carefully observed and understood.

Larry Rice, president, Johnson & Wales University North Miami Campus

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Because we work with children, all of our employees must pass the Level 2 FBI Background Check, which requires a valid Social Security number. Currently, we do not have any employees with green cards or student visas. Furthermore, I don’t think the temporary ban will have a long-term effect on business here in the U.S.

Alex Rodriguez-Roig, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade

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We often have international interns. Our organization does work in 70 countries and their language skills and cultural skills are very valuable. The recent executive order’s intent is to ensure safety but the drastic, not well thought out implementation did more harm than good, casting the U.S.A. in a negative light on the global stage. There are many incredible places to visit in the world, and we hear from many travelers that they will now look elsewhere.

John Tanzella, president and CEO, International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association

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In the past, our firm sponsored employees for H-1B visas. Prior to the election, we had discontinued that practice, as it was costly and legally very cumbersome. I think the ban will be a burden for certain types of businesses such as those in Silicon Valley and the tech industry. But overall, if we widen our search criteria and strengthen our cooperation with universities and training programs, we will be able to fill these positions domestically. As for our standing in the world, that is a question to be determined only by time, and public opinions shift rapidly.

Faith Read Xenos, co-founding partner, Singer Xenos

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The Miami Herald CEO Roundtable is a weekly feature that appears in Business Monday of the Miami Herald. Recent questions have included:

▪ Do entrepreneurs make good politicians? CEOs discuss the pros and cons of the issue

▪ The most important issue facing South Florida this year? CEOs say it’s traffic

▪ Have you been to Cuba? CEOs discuss business and travel opportunities on the island

▪ CEOs discuss their resolutions for the New Year

▪ CEOs: Trump, ugly politics among the biggest surprises of 2016

▪ CEOs’ top request for Trump’s first 100 days: ‘Unity’

▪ CEOs won’t tolerate ugly comments in the workplace

▪ CEOs assess South Florida’s economy for 2017

▪ Did Obamacare hurt your business? South Florida CEOs respond

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