Immigration: A Focus on H1-B

Immigration may be the most-charged issue that President-elect Trump has to deal with, both politically and economically. And CEOs intend to have their say.

For example, digital-tech chieftains led by Google CEO Eric Schmidt backed Hillary Clinton for president, motivated in part by the conviction that she would expand the H1-B specialty-occupation visa program. It gives thousands of jobs to non-Americans who technically aren’t “immigrants” but basically function as though they are. Trump pledged to allow U.S. citizens first crack at all such positions.

“Immigration is near and dear to many CEOs’ hearts, especially in Silicon Valley,” says Princeton University economist Alan Blinder. “With skill and luck, they could be a moderating force on how [the Trump administration approaches] that subject.”

The problem with Trump’s stance is that “we don’t have enough Americans going into the IT industry,” explains Tim Hebert, CEO of Atrion, an e-commerce software outfit. “We need to rely on these visas and workers coming from different countries, and becoming citizens, and filling those gaps. The idea of building walls because we assume they’re going to take all our jobs is the wrong way to look at it.”

Dale Buss :Dale Buss is a long-time contributor to Chief Executive, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and other business publications. He lives in Michigan.