By: Arjun Katechia
As the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump has an ambitious agenda for the next few years. One of the more controversial items on this agenda includes the travel ban, an executive order which had been scheduled to take effect on March 16th until it was blocked by a federal judge. The proposed 90-day travel ban orders the blocking of immigrants from six Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Iran, from entering the country. In addition, the ban plans to suspend the US refugee program for 120 days and lowers the refugee cap from 110,000 to 50,000 refugees per year. While intending to protect the United States from “terrorist refugees,” one aspect of the ban that it is often overlooked is the extensive impacts it would have on the US economy. In terms of immediate impacts, the ban would decelerate growth in the tourist sector. In the long run, it would produce an international anti-American sentiment, which will inevitably lower visitation rates for international tourists. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the US tourist industry supported 14 million jobs, providing $1.5 trillion to the economy in 2016. Overall, the tourism and travel sector grew 2.8% last year. This growth is expected to decelerate to 2.3% in 2017. While partly induced by inflation and lower disposable income as the WTTC has stated, this deceleration is also a predicted consequence of the potential travel ban. The national sentiment that is exuded by a ban on immigration is one that signals an isolationist stance on travel and a threatening atmosphere for Muslims. This ban has incited international fear of traveling to the US, especially by immigrants who worry about difficulties and deportation, even if they have proper documentation. Compared to the weeks prior to the scheduled enactment of the order, the demand for flights from
international countries to the US dropped by 17%. Although the ban would be temporary, it would still have immediate and lingering effects on the US’s tourism sector.
Beyond the tourism sector, a xenophobic US would severely harm the advent of new businesses, especially in Silicon Valley. For example, the magazine Inc. reported that 52% of all Silicon Valley companies from 1995-2005 were started by immigrants. Furthermore, by 2012, 43.9% of US engineering and technology startups were founded by immigrants. In blocking immigrants from six countries and heightening the American isolationist stance, the future of Silicon Valley looks drier than ever before as Trump’s travel ban provides immigrants with a clear incentive to not come and start businesses in the United States.
Through this executive order, Trump has made it clear that the US is not the place for economic vitality. Rather, he sends a message that the US is closing its doors to foreign people and foreign ideas, which hold importance to the US tourist industry, Silicon Valley’s continued success, and the greater American economy.