Written by Rosie GH

Greenheart Responds to "Buy American, Hire American" Executive Order

#SaveJ1 by Rosie GH

#SaveJ1 2017: Buy American, Hire American Executive Order

Dear Greenheart partner and supporter,

In 2017, the cultural exchange community was shaken by reports that an interagency group at the White House was looking into restricting or eliminating five programs under the J-1 exchange visitor programs. The 5 targeted programs are all work-related and are thus being considered under the Buy American, Hire American (BAHA) executive order, in a misguided effort to protect American jobs.

As a sponsor of three of these visa designations: J-1 Summer Work Travel, J-1 Internship, and J-1 Trainee, Greenheart Exchange was dismayed at this ill-informed effort to siderail one of our most effective global diplomacy tools, to date. J-1 visa programs are first and foremost a cultural exchange initiative, created in an effort to increase mutual understanding between Americans and those from other countries. For over 50 years these exchanges have brought people together and provided life changing experiences not only for participants coming to the United States; but for their American co-workers, host communities, and friends. Additionally, participants of J-1 visa programs bring millions of dollars annually to the states that host them. J-1 Summer Work Travel participants (the largest of the J-1 visa categories) support seasonal communities not only through their additions to the workforce, but by also contributing over $500 million to the United States economy, annually. 76% of these same participants reported a higher overall regard for the U.S. after the program, and 94% reported fostering new friendships with Americans during their stay.

Our efforts as a community are making an impact and have demonstrated the strength of our industry. So far we have sent 100,000+ letters and calls to Congress in support of J-1 exchange programs and garnered 160+ positive news stories about J-1 exchange programs, in national and local press. Additionally, 33 Representatives and 17 Senators joined bipartisan sign-on letters in support of J-1 exchanges, 32 business associations joined a letter in support of J-1 exchanges, and a House Resolution in support of J-1 exchange programs is continuing to collect co-sponsors. We have also seen the release of the Summer Work Travel Program Review, a research study and report by Eureka Facts, a social science and market research firm. This report provides us with a look at our participant’s experiences and their impact on the United States through interviews and quantitative statistics.

Greenheart has joined many other J-1 sponsors in dedicating both time and resources to advocating for the programs under fire. Our work is bolstered by the incredible international community that the J-1 programs have built and helped grow. Greenheart continue to facilitate these programs without fear of what may come, a sentiment shared by the Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Department of State. We look forward to continuing this work together, in the spirit of a more peaceful and sustainable future for all.

Please use this EZine and our Advocacy page for resources and ways that you, too, can use your voice to support J-1 exchange programs. We ask that you continue to promote cultural exchange programs in the United States and help these programs become stronger than ever.

We will continue to update our Greenheart community on these efforts and we thank you for your continued engagement.

– Greenheart International