|By Susan E. Hill, November 17, 2016
Given that many businesses in the equestrian industry employ foreign-born talent and labor to care for, train and compete their horses, there are questions about how President-Elect Trump’s immigration policies will affect these U.S. businesses. Since election, Trump has vowed to take the following immediate actions: (1) suspend immigration from certain terror-prone regions; (2) deport undocumented criminals; and (3) reverse President Obama’s executive actions that granted young persons a work permit (DACA). Only Congress can change immigration laws, but Trump does have the power to decide how strongly to enforce the existing laws.
Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions
No one yet is clear on what this means, but potentially it could apply to anyone with a temporary visa who is from a country that Trump defines as “terror-prone.” Trump has backed away from his earlier rhetoric about barring “Muslims,” because it’s doubtful that any Court would allow proposed immigration policies to discriminate against a religion. But in using the term “terror-prone region,” Trump will probably try to bar persons from any country with a significant Muslim population. What this could mean: if your worker currently has a visa and leaves the U.S. for vacation or work, that worker could be barred from re-entering the U.S. and resuming his/her job with you.
Deport undocumented criminals
Again, it’s not clear what this means, but potentially it could apply to a person who lacks a visa or a green card, but does have a work permit to lawfully work an equestrian job. Trump’s transition team has spoken about including people who have not even been convicted of a crime, but only charged with one. And there is no word yet on how minor of a crime would qualify: driving without a license; public intoxication; trespassing; etc.? What this could mean: your worker likely would have access to procedural protections in the deportation Court system, but the work permit may be subject to cancellation during the proceedings.
These people lack visas and green cards, but they do have work permits to lawfully work at U.S. equestrian jobs. What this could mean: even if Trump attempts to cancel this program when he takes office, litigation will surely ensue and probably hold off this action.
The future for visas and green cards in the equestrian industry
The equestrian industry already is suffering from current restrictions on visas and green cards for riders, grooms and trainers. Trump’s campaign proposed vague ideas of further restricting immigration. The good news is that Trump himself cannot re-write the procedural laws for taking away visas and green cards. Aside from workers who fall into the above categories, everyone else with visas or green cards can feel secure for the immediate future. However, in the coming years it is possible that Trump could convince Congress to re-write the laws and make them even more restrictive. This would make it even more difficult for U.S. employers to obtain visas and green cards for future workers, but that is something we’ll have to address at the time if it happens.
Hill & Piibe handles numerous visas and green cards for the equestrian industry, please visit our website for more information: hillandpiibe.com/equestrian-related-immigration