It has been quite an eventful week at IENA HQ. As we previously posted and as you may have read and/or seen on social media, the Trump administration is considering an end to the U.S. Department of State’s J-1 Exchange Visitor programs. It would seem this action is a result of the Buy American, Hire American task force that the President has assembled.
As you know, exchange programs like these make up the core component of our people-to-people diplomacy and are essential to our national security, not to mention the reliance of camps and employers on international staff for skilled workers and cultural exchange. They are not pathways for immigration or guest worker programs.
SUMMER WORK TRAVEL PROGRAM REVIEW
According to a new report focused on the J-1 Summer Work Travel (SWT) program:
• More than three-fourths (76.1%) of SWT participants reported a positive change in their views of the U.S., American culture, and the American people after having participated in the program.
• Nearly all (90.9%) of participants agreed they had a better understanding of American culture following the program.
In addition to harming U.S. public diplomacy efforts, eliminating J-1 programs would cause significant harm to the American economy. According to the same report:
• SWT exchange visitor participants contributed an estimated $509 million to the U.S. economy in 2016.
• Half (50.8%) of surveyed employers (mostly small businesses) stated that the absence of SWT participants would have a big negative impact on their revenues.
• Roughly half (44.8%) of employers said it was likely or very likely they would have to reduce hours of operation and more than one-quarter (27.6%) reported it was likely or very likely they would not be able to stay open during the season without the SWT program.
Read the full report, then, take action!
HELP SAVE THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR PROGRAM
• Call your representatives in Washington, D.C., and urge them to contact the White House to stop the elimination of these programs. Find phone numbers for your Members of Congress and use these talking points to make these incredibly important calls. Please encourage your family, friends, and colleagues to do the same.
• Ask anyone you know with personal contacts at the White House, Department of State, and Congress to please call them asap, or use the general contacts below:
White House, Office of Public Liaison: (202) 456-6493
Department of State, Office of Secretary Tillerson: (202) 647-7234
• Join Americans for Cultural Exchange – a broad coalition in support of international exchange programs – and urge your representatives to take action.
- “Cultural Exchange Programs Fear Visa Cuts from Trump Order,” Washington Post (8/30/17)
- “Ski Resorts and Others Worry the Trump Administration May Cut Visa Workers Program,” Los Angeles Times (8/30/17)
- “Potential Elimination of J-1 Visa Program Could Cripple Cape Cod’s Seasonal Businesses,” CapeCod.com (8/30/17)
- “J-1 Visa Program Cuts Could Devastate Island Businesses,” Martha’s Vineyard Times (8/30/17)
- “Cultural Exchange Programs Fear Visa Cuts from Trump Order,” ABC News (8/30/17)
- “Cultural Exchange Programs Fear Visa Cuts from Trump Order,” CBS Minnesota (8/30/17)
- “Ski Resorts Worry About Cuts to Student Exchange Visa Program,” Vermont Public Radio (8/29/17)
- “Help Still Wanted: How Cuts to Visa Program Could Hurt Local Businesses,” NBC10 (8/29/17)
- “Trump Administration Suggests Potential Cuts to Cultural Exchange Visas,” The National Law Review (8/29/17)
- “Cultural Exchange Programs Worry About Trump’s Reported Visa Review,” WBUR – NPR Boston (8/29/17)
- “Trump Eyes Cuts to Summer Work Program,” Cape Cod Times (8/28/17)
- “Report: Trump to Consider Cuts to Cultural Exchange Visa Program,” CBS News (8/28/17)
- “How Donald Trump Could Bankrupt the Jersey Shore,” Philadelphia Magazine (8/28/17)