The Foreign Workers of Mar-a-Lago

3/13/2017 - Professor of Economics Giovanni Peri in the New Yorker.

Since the election, Trump has been using Mar-a-Lago as a weekend retreat, a situation room, a source of personal enrichment (the private club just raised its membership fee to two hundred thousand dollars), and a backdrop for press conferences and photo ops. Based on the frequency of Trump’s visits to the opulent club since he took office, Mar-a-Lago appears to be a place—unlike Washington—where he feels at home. It is also a business that, for the past decade, has taken advantage of the H-2B program (distinct from the H-2A program, which is for agricultural workers).

If your mantra is “America First,” there is actually a stronger case for the visas the tech industry uses than for the ones used by Mar-a-Lago. Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis, who studies labor and immigration, says that the H-1Bs can boost the employment prospects of Americans. In a 2014 report, Peri and his co-authors concluded that the tech industry in the U.S. would have recovered much more quickly after the recession had the government not pulled back drastically on H-1B visas in 2007 and 2008. The technology jobs offered to foreigners, they argued, would have created several hundred thousand jobs for American workers, including those without college degrees who perform support roles in the tech industry. “Many people say that Japan has lost its edge in high tech because of its immigration policies,” Peri said. “It’s very hard to immigrate to Japan.”

Read the full story in the New Yorker.