Why cutting the J1 visa would be a disaster

Another day, another Trump drama

Shock: Donald Trump has pissed people off again. Another shock: it targets foreigners… again.

Trump's "Buy American Hire American" executive order was recently passed to prevent international workers from taking jobs from American citizens. Recently the J1 visa, which enables internationals to work across the US, at resorts, camps, au pairing, and even for a part-time jobs when they're at college in the US, was added to discussion to get cut.

While nothing is official yet, there's no doubt those who get the J1 are worried.

Even though it's no surprise that Trump's trying to stop foreigners from working in the US, the potential cut of this particular visa has come as a huge hit to everyone who uses it, not for money, but for the sheer joy of it.

The​​ ​​J1,​​ ​​first​​ ​​and​​ ​​foremost,​​ ​​is​​ ​​a​​ ​​culture​​ ​​exchange

Yes,​​ ​​the​​ ​​workers​​ ​​get​​ ​​paid,​​ ​​but​​ ​​the​​ ​​main​​ ​​focus​ ​​is​​ ​​the experience.

After​ ​being​ ​a​ ​camp​ ​counselor​ ​for​ ​the​ ​last​ ​two​ ​summers,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​no​ ​doubt​ ​that​ ​this​ ​is​ ​more​ ​than​ ​​a​ ​job​ ​to​ ​us.​ ​If​ ​we wanted​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​paycheck,​ ​we​ ​would've​ ​taken​ ​up​ ​​boring​ ​jobs​ ​at​ ​home.

​​Adam​ ​Janaway,​ ​a​ ​representative​ ​of​ ​BUNAC,​ ​which​ ​sends​ ​international​ ​staff​ ​worldwide​ ​through the J1,​ ​stresses​ ​the importance​ ​of​ ​keeping​ ​the​ ​visa:​ ​

“​J1​ ​is​​ ​so​ ​much​ ​more​ ​than​ ​filling​ ​a​ ​labor​ ​shortage, although​ ​that​ ​is​ ​a​ ​real​ ​thing.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​window​ ​into​ ​another​ ​culture​ ​for​ ​both​ ​the​ ​participant​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Americans they​ ​encounter,​ ​and​ ​cross​ ​cultural​ ​experience​ ​for​ ​both​ ​those​ ​parties,​ ​I​ ​believe,​ ​is​ ​the most​ ​important​ ​step​ ​to​ ​making​ ​the​ ​world​ ​we​ ​live​ ​in​ ​better​ ​place.”

As well as experiencing their culture, we​ ​bring​ ​our​s​ ​to​ ​the​ ​States, making ​lifelong​ ​friends​ ​with​ ​our​ ​colleagues,​ ​and​ ​causing ​a​ ​positive impression​ ​on​ ​the​ ​young​ ​children​ ​we​ ​teach. One where they count down the days until we return, and vice versa.

A lot of us influence America's youth, and make bonds while doing so

A​ ​great​ ​portion​ ​of​ ​the​ ​jobs​ ​​through​ ​J1​ ​visas​ ​work with​ ​children. ​The​ ​children​ ​we​ ​work​ ​with​ ​are constantly curious about other parts of the world. This knowledge would be stripped away if we were no longer able to work.

Caleb​ ​Bate,​ ​a first​ ​year​ ​Camp​ ​Caribou​ ​counselor​ ​from​ ​New​ ​Zealand,​ ​taught​ ​children​ ​on​ ​his camp​ ​a ​traditional​ ​Haka.​ ​On​ camp life,​ ​he​ ​says,​ ​"We​​ ​​bring​​ ​​different​​ ​​skills​​ ​​and​ mindsets​​ ​​that​​ ​​can​​ ​​change​​ ​​the​​ ​​way​​ ​​the children​​ ​​are​​ ​​taught​​ ​​for​​ ​​the​​ ​​better."

Caleb, right, sat on top of a Quad Bike

Caleb, right, sat on top of a Quad Bike

With the impact of the potential cut hitting Caleb after one summer, it's hard to imagine how Lauren​ ​Carner​, who's​ ​been​ ​travelling​ ​from​ ​England​ ​for five years, feels.​ ​For​ ​the​ ​summers​ ​of 2013,​ ​2014,​ ​and​ ​2015,​ ​she​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​counselor​ ​at​ ​Camp​ ​Kippewa​ ​in​ ​Maine,​ ​and​ ​made such​ ​an​ ​impression that​ ​her​ ​Camp​ ​Directors​ ​asked​ ​her​ ​to​ ​be an au pair​ for ​their​ ​own​ ​children, which she's been doing since. ​The​ ​program​ ​made​ ​her,​ ​"fall​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​the country​ ​and​ ​its​ ​people,"​ ​because​ ​she​'s,​ ​"building​ ​such​ ​a​ ​strong​ ​relationship​ ​with​ ​these​ ​children​ ​and their​ ​parents,​ ​and​ ​they​ ​have​ ​honestly​ ​become​ ​like​ ​my​ ​second​ ​family."

Discussing the potential cut,​ ​Lauren​ ​said:​ ​"I​ ​am​ ​so​ ​grateful​ ​for​ ​the opportunity​ ​I​ ​have​ ​been​ ​given.​ ​Mr​ ​Trump​ ​-​ ​Please​ ​don't​ ​deprive​ ​others​ ​of​ ​these​ ​wonderful​ ​programs that​ ​you​ ​currently​ ​have​ ​in​ ​place!"

There's demand for us for the jobs Americans can't fill

Not​ ​only​ ​do we impact citizens,​ ​but​ ​employers​​ ​​need​​ ​​us.​​ ​​We’re​​ ​​only​​ ​​here​​ ​​for​​ ​​a​​ ​​couple​​ ​​of​​ ​​months​​ ​​of​​ ​​the​​ ​​year,​​ ​​on​ short​​ ​​term​​ ​​contracts​ ​that​​ ​​wouldn’t​​ ​​satisfy​​ ​​employees​​ ​​who​​ ​​would​​ ​​need​​ ​​a​​ ​​full-time job.

Often​​ ​​there​​ ​​aren’t​​ ​​enough​ ​American​​ ​​employees​​ ​​to​​ ​​fill​​ ​​all​​ ​​positions​.​ ​Both​ ​the​ ​counselor​, ​au​ ​pair and resort​ ​program​ ​require​ ​skilled​ ​employees​ ​who​ ​know​ ​their​ ​field. While​ ​Americans​ ​can​ ​do​ ​these​ ​skills,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​over​ ​10,000​ ​summer​ ​camps​ ​and​ ​thousands of​ ​resorts and hotels, and many children​ ​in​ ​need​ ​of​ ​caring, across​ ​the​ ​US,​ ​meaning​ ​there'd​ ​be​ ​need​ ​for​ ​tens​ ​of​ ​thousands​ ​of workers​ ​to​ ​dedicate​ ​themselves​ ​to​ ​full-on​ ​jobs,​ ​for​ ​only​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​months.

Alexi, far right, with other soccer coaches

Alexi, far right, with other soccer coaches

Alexi​ ​Skitinis,​ ​a​ ​Welsh​ ​soccer​ ​coach​ ​based in​ ​California​ ​for​ ​the​ ​past​ ​two summers,​ ​has​ ​noticed​ ​by​ ​working​ ​with​ ​British,​ ​Brazilian,​ ​and​ ​American​ ​co-workers,​ ​the difference​ ​in​ ​both​ ​skill​ ​and​ ​knowledge:​ ​​ ​​

​“American​​ ​​soccer​​ ​​culture​​ ​​is​​ ​​severely​​ ​​behind​​ ​​us.​​ ​Granted​,​ ​​USA citizens ​​should​​ ​​be​​ ​​provided​​ ​​work​​ ​​first​​ ​​as​​ ​​it's​​ ​​their​​ ​​country,​​ ​​but​​ ​​when​​ ​​you​​ ​​have​​ ​​the​ ​opportunity​​ ​​to​​ ​​bring​​ ​​in​ licensed​​ ​​professionals​​, ​​why​​ ​​would​​ ​​you​​ ​​want​​ ​​to​​ ​​deny​​ ​​the​​ ​​chance​​ ​​of​​ ​​others​​ ​​being​​ ​​taught​ ​correctly?

“To​ ​take​ ​this​ ​away​ ​would​ ​be​ ​cruel.”

We don't only help the businesses we work for, but the economy, too

We​ ​don’t​ ​just​ ​bring​ ​our​ ​skills.​ ​While​ ​Trump​ ​may​ ​say​ ​that​ ​foreign​ ​workers​ ​threaten​ ​Americans'​ ​jobs​,​ ​by​ ​coming​ ​over​ ​to​ ​the​ ​States​ ​we​ ​bring​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​money​ ​for​ ​the​ economy.​ ​Our money goes both to local businesses and to travelling.

A​ ​CCUSA​ ​representative​ ​also​ ​shared​ ​that​ ​a​ ​2017​ ​study​ ​of​ ​6,000​ ​Northeastern​ ​camps showed​​ ​we​ ​made​ ​a​ ​direct​ ​economic​ ​contribution​ ​of​ ​$3.2​ ​billion.

Without us, a lot of summer programs that benefit Americans might have to close

We work at camps, at theme parks, at ski resorts, in hotels and bars, and even if we took employment out of it, we still spend our time spending at local facilities. Without us, they won't get enough money to continue.

Jason​ ​Silberman,​ ​​owner and director ​of​ ​Camp​ ​Matoaka​ ​in​ ​Maine,​ ​says:​ ​"Without the J1 program, many camps would be forced to close or downsize, which would affect the ability of so many children to attend camp. The camp experience would not be the same if we didn’t have staff from outside the United States. Camp should reflect the world around us.

"If Camp Matoaka practiced only hiring an all-American staff, we would be robbing our girls of an enriching global perspective."

This​ ​isn’t​ ​simply​ ​about​ ​international​ ​staff​ ​taking​ ​jobs​ ​from​ ​Americans.​ ​It couldn’t​ ​just​ ​be​ ​about​ ​unemployment​ ​if​ ​Trump​ ​looked​ ​into​ ​the​ ​facts​ ​on​ ​the​ ​money​ ​we​ ​bring​ ​and how​ ​businesses​ ​would​ ​suffer​ ​without​ ​us.​ ​

David​ ​King,​ ​who​ ​works​ ​for​ ​CCUSA,​ ​a summer camp placement company,​ ​said​ ​if​ ​the​ ​visa​ ​were​ ​to​ ​be​ ​cut,​ ​“​it​ ​would​ ​have​ ​a​ ​devastating​ ​effect​ ​on tens​ ​of​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​people.​ ​Camps​ ​would​ ​struggle​ ​to​ ​hire​ ​staff​ ​and​ ​would​n't​ ​be able​ ​to​ ​accept​ ​as​ ​many​ ​campers.​​ ​Local​ ​businesses​ ​may​ ​have​ ​to​ ​downsize​ ​or​ ​close.​ ​Tourist attractions​ ​wouldn’t​ ​be​ ​as​ ​busy​ ​and​ ​the​ ​American​ ​economy​ ​would​ ​suffer.

“Most​ ​importantly,​ ​it​ ​would​ ​deny​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​a​ ​program​ ​where​ ​people from​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​world​ ​can​ ​work​ ​and​ ​cooperate​ ​in​ ​a​ ​positive​ ​environment.​​”

If the visa gets cut, it wouldn't only be a stab at international people who love this country, but to the Americans who not only enjoy our company, but rely on us too. Cutting the J1 would be travesty to America, as well as us.

Think about it, Donald.

Lauren, right, at camp with friends

Lauren, right, at camp with friends

Both​​ ​BUNAC​ ​and​ ​CCUSA,​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​other placement companies​ ​on​ ​social​ ​media,​ ​urge everyone​ ​to​ ​help​ ​save​ ​the​ ​J1​ ​visa.

If​ ​you​'re​ ​American,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​help​ ​by​ ​e-mailing​​ ​the​ ​President​ ​and​ ​your​ ​Congressman​ ​here.

If​ ​you​'re​ ​international,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​help​ ​by​ ​sending​ ​your​ ​testimonial​ ​to​ ​j1visa@acacamps.org​ ​and tweeting​ ​#SaveJ1.