Small Business Democrats Call on U.S. Chamber to Oppose Harmful Immigration Policies

Feb 17, 2017
Washington, DC – Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Small Business Committee, today led Democratic Members of the House Small Business Committee in calling on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose the Trump Administration’s recent Executive Orders related to immigration. 
 
In a letter to the Chamber, the Members of Congress wrote: 
 
“As Members of the House Committee charged with fostering entrepreneurship and an environment conducive to small business growth, we believe our nation and American entrepreneurship have benefited tremendously from immigration.  As a longstanding advocate for American companies, the U.S. Chamber could play a valuable role in educating the public and policymakers about how these policies will be harmful to our economy, job growth and U.S. firms of all sizes.”  
 
The full text of the letter is below. 
 
Mr. Thomas J. Donohue
President and CEO
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20062
 
Dear Mr. Donohue:
 
As Members of the House Committee on Small Business, we are writing regarding the business community’s and, more specifically, the Chamber’s position on the President’s recent Executive Orders (13767 and 13769) related to immigration. 
 
We should make clear from the outset that the President’s Executive Orders in this area constitute an affront to American values and, if upheld, will ultimately make our nation less safe.  However, setting aside the human rights and national security concerns, the Orders would also engender significant negative economic impact for American workers and businesses - your member companies. 
 
As you are aware, some of the nation’s most prominent companies, particularly those from the technology sector, have filed an amicus brief in opposition to Executive Order 13769, which restricted travel to the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim nations.  We applaud these firms for helping underscore some of the significant economic impact being caused by this policy. 
 
A number of these companies have ordered employees on foreign travel to return to the United States due to the new travel restrictions, directly affecting business operations.  In their filing, these companies also highlighted the positive affect immigration has in fueling entrepreneurship and business formation. 
 
There are also concerns in other sectors that U.S. companies doing business overseas, particularly in countries affected by the ban, could lose out on future opportunities because of Executive Order 13769. One company, General Electric, has reportedly seen at least two contracts with the Iraqi government imperiled because of the ban.
 
Overall, it has been estimated that Executive Order 13769 could cost the U.S. economy $66 billion in spending when indirect multiplier effects are taken into account, resulting in a loss of more than 130,000 jobs.  These are tangible economic consequences that will directly affect American workers and members of the U.S. Chamber, should this ill-conceived policy remain intact.  
 
We are pleased that, to date, the Courts have enjoined and restrained federal employees from implementing large portions of Executive Order 13769. However, as you know, it is likely these rulings will be appealed.  
 
It is also our belief that the President’s Executive Order 13767 calling for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would be harmful to American employers and workers. The President campaigned on a promise that Mexico would pay for construction of a wall, but it has become clear that the Mexican government has no interest in or intention of reimbursing U.S. taxpayers for this expense. In addition, public estimates for the cost of a border wall are significantly higher than the $8 to $12 billion that the President has cited.  One analysis by MIT Technology Review calculated the cost at ranging up to $40 billion.  
 
These concerns are compounded by reports that the Administration is considering a 20% border tax, particularly if such a tax is directed at products imported from Mexico. Organizations representing major retailers – some of them members of the U.S. Chamber – have suggested that such a tax will mean price increases for U.S. consumers, with one trade group estimating the average American family could pay $1,700 more a year for goods.
 
Moreover, if such a tax is targeted at Mexican-made products (presumably the policy goal of such a tax: making Mexico “pay for the wall”), there are concerns about whether that country would respond in kind, sparking a larger trade conflict.  Mexico is the United States’ third largest trading partner and U.S. exports of goods and services to Mexico support an estimated 1.1 million jobs.  Damaging this relationship risks adverse effects to our economy. 
 
As one of the most prominent voices for the business community, the U.S. Chamber and its members could take an important leadership role in opposing the Administration’s immigration policy on sound business grounds.  We therefore ask for clarification on where the U.S. Chamber stands on Executive Orders 13769 and 13767. 
 
Specifically: 
 
Like many companies in the technology sector (some of them members of the U.S. Chamber), does the U.S. Chamber of  Commerce acknowledge the economic effects of the Muslim ban for both businesses with overseas operations as well as how this policy undermines entrepreneurship?  
 
Will the U.S. Chamber publicly call for an end to the Muslim Ban and Executive Order 13769?  
 
Does the U.S. Chamber recognize the harmful economic impacts of a potential border tax and the disruptive economic effects of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border? 
 
Will the U.S. Chamber publicly oppose construction of a wall and Executive Order 13767?
 
Lastly, we believe the U.S. Chamber could play an important leadership role by asking its member companies to refrain from assisting in the construction of a border wall. Would the U.S. Chamber consider taking this move and encouraging a business boycott?  
 
As Members of the House Committee charged with fostering entrepreneurship and an environment conducive to small business growth, we believe our nation and American entrepreneurship have benefited tremendously from immigration.  As a longstanding advocate for American companies, the U.S. Chamber could play a valuable role in educating the public and policymakers about how these policies will be harmful to our economy, job growth and U.S. firms of all sizes.  
 
We look forward to your timely response.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Nydia M. Velázquez
Dwight Evans
Al Lawson
Yvette Clarke
Judy Chu
Alma Adams
Adriano Espaillat
# # #