Possible options for Trump’s immigration reform

Once he takes office, I believe President Trump will need to choose between two scenarios for achieving his goals for job creation and immigration reform. I am not advocating that he take such actions; I’m just taking him at his word on the campaign trail as to what he will do and am considering how he could do it. I’ve blogged about immigration and H-1B visa reform for several years. Depending on how Trump conducts immigration reform, it could accelerate intellectual property creation and generate jobs in the U.S., or it could force IP and jobs to other countries. Here is a look at the difference in strategies and outcomes in the two scenarios.

Scenario #1

In scenario 1, President Trump would make more H-1B work visas available, allowing high-end/high-wage talent to come into the country, which would create jobs and could even boost IP creation. But he would restrict immigration for lower-wage, blue-collar jobs, satisfying a significant segment of the people that voted for Trump to drive change. Under this scenario, he would fulfill his commitment to Middle America while creating jobs in tech and other IP-based industries, which would meet his other promise to create jobs.

Like many parts of his platform Trump has not talked in detail about the highly educated part of the immigration population, and this may leave him flexibility in an eventual immigration strategy. For example, imagine a scenario where he allows H-1B visas but makes the minimum salary $100,000 and puts in place restrictions detailed in the visa reform legislation proposed in 2014 by Senator Durbin. Scenario #1 aligns with Trump’s claim that the benefits of trade have not been shared, and the price has been paid by less-well-educated and less-compensated workers. It also would allow the U.S. to maintain its leadership in IP.

By Peter Bendor-Samuel for CIO
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