Can I Survive in Trump’s America?
The Outlook for Expats is Rosier than you Might Think!
When Donald Trump was elected in 2016, people across the globe were shocked and many feared that he would prove to be a disaster for the social and political landscape of America.
With his brand of “politics via Twitter” and bombastic attitude, Trump has caused consternation and anger amongst many people in the international community. Even two years later, it seems that hardly a day goes by without a shocking headline about Trump’s policies or rhetoric.
The pace of the news has been almost dizzying at times, and it has been hard to avoid what feels like an endless stream of negative stories about Trump’s America, particularly with regards to immigration and attitudes towards people not born on U.S. soil. International opinion on Trump’s image is poor, and many believe he is a negative influence across America and the world stage.
With this kind of atmosphere, what are the positives about Trump’s America and what are the best tips for surviving and thriving as an expat?
On This Page
- Getting to Grips with Fake News, Twitter & Social Media
- Partisan politics – Your brand and ‘taking sides’
- How Much of a Concern is White Nationalism?
- What’s the Outlook for International Entrepreneurs Under Trump?
- Surviving Trump’s America – Keeping it all in Perspective
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about taxes, company formaition, and residency in the U.S.
- Get advice on taxation, company formation, and residency in the U.S.
“Fake News” became the buzz-term of 2017, especially as the Mueller investigation into possible collusion with Russia regarding interference in American elections gathered steam.
The use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook to promote extreme views as well as fake news has become a widespread issue, one that often skews perceptions about conflict and public opinion.
Trump himself is a regular Twitter user and often uses insults and anger to get his point across. In terms of truth-telling, CNN found that Trump told a whopping 5000 lies by his 601st day in office, a rate of 4 per day, increasing to 8 as his second year wore on.
Internet trolling and false memes are also on the increase, with the rise of so-called “troll factories” allegedly based in countries such as Russia, stoking the fires of social media unrest. These have helped to fuel the rise of Fake News, with one study finding that during the 2016 elections over 25% of Americans visited a Fake News website.
The tone of political and social discourse has certainly hardened, with the internet now feeling like a very unfriendly place for many people. So, how can you manage the way you interact with fake news and social media challenges in the era of Trump?
Firstly it’s important to check your sources, including things like URLs. For example, if a URL has “.com.co” at the end it might be a fake version of a genuine news site. Be on the lookout for satire as well (such as The Onion website). It’s worth checking more than one source for news, especially when it comes to sites that are known to heavily lean towards Republicans or Democrats. For example, if you are reading Fox News regularly you might also want to check out CNN and look at the differences in the way the same news is presented. It’s also worth digging into headlines to get to the story behind what can often be hyperbolic.
Be wary of posts you see on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – many of the posts people share are not from reputable sources. And also be aware that many people have now become desensitized to media content and therefore the tone of social media can be combative in many instances.
When it comes to your business, you need to have a robust social media plan for how you will address (or avoid) the political climate. Many businesses prefer to keep a close eye on their employees and social media experts to make sure they stay on brand and don’t deviate into political discourse.
Other companies believe that politics may provide an opportunity to connect with customers based on their affiliation with certain political viewpoints. Some brands have advocated taking a stand when it comes to Trump policies they disagree with. Others have been criticized for what’s seen as “opportunism” when it comes to politics.
One high-profile case was Nike’s sponsorship of NFL Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who spent months at the center of controversy over his decision to “take a knee” during the National Anthem in protest over racism. President Trump and a number of conservative outlets and supporters were against this action and when Nike used him for one of their adverts they were seen by many to be opportunistic.
In other cases, companies have been seen in a much more positive light, especially when a Trump policy has directly impacted them or their employees. For example, many tech companies in Silicone Valley banded together to criticize and oppose Trump’s “Travel Ban” as many of them count foreign-born people amongst their leadership and staff.
When it comes to ‘taking sides’ in your business statements on social media and elsewhere it’s worth first deciding your position, how important it is to you and what you would like to get from your stance. You should also consider your customer base and their leanings and whether others in your industry are talking similar action.
In the two years since Trump was elected, there have been many headlines about incidents of racism and in particular the rise of what’s called “White Nationalism”. There have been high-profile incidents such as the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a woman was killed after a car was driven towards the crowd protesting the rally. Trumps’ response was widely criticized at the time and has been seen as evidence for his sympathies towards White Nationalist groups.
A year on from this tragic attack, headlines still claim that “White Nationalists are Winning”, however, is this really true? Although it is clear that many extreme and far-right groups have been emboldened by certain politicians such as Trump, are the attitudes of everyday Americans being swayed towards White Nationalism, and anti-immigration?
America still has more immigrants than any other country in the world – over 40 million people who were not born in the U.S. live there. Contrary to what some politicians will say, the majority of immigrants are in the country legally – 76%. When it comes to refugees a total of 53,716 people were resettled in the U.S. in 2017, hardly a huge influx.
While the U.S. might appear unwelcoming, based on rhetoric from Donald Trump or others who are fans of his nationalist ideology, most Americans are actually positive about immigrants. Pew Research found – “Six-in-ten Americans (65%) say immigrants strengthen the country “because of their hard work and talents,” while just over a quarter (26%) say immigrants burden the country by taking jobs, housing and health care.”
That is not to say there are not some sections of the population who hold a more negative view. Those who are Republican (or Republican-leaning) tend to be a little less positive – with 42% believing that immigrants are positive for the country, as opposed to 84% of Democrats (or Democrat-leaning).
Certain news outlets such as Fox News appear to have a strong anti-immigration stance, and there have been disturbing incidents such as Trump’s “Migrant Separation Policy” that saw children being separated from their families after attempting to enter the U.S. illegally.
With these high-profile incidents making news headlines around the world, it might be easy to assume that America has become ideologically ‘anti-immigration’ of any kind. But, for the most part, these kinds of incidents have been condemned by many Democrats and Republicans, as well as the wider public and news sources.
Expats are not generally feeling the heat when it comes to living in America. When surveyed by InterNations the majority of expats (63%) said that they felt welcome in the U.S. and at home in local culture, and 43% said they could see themselves staying in the U.S. forever.
When it comes to your business, the outlook under Trump is a lot rosier than you might expect. But, before we get to the good news, let’s get the bad out of the way first.
As you are probably aware, Trump used several executive orders to make (or attempt to make) sweeping changes in the political landscape of the U.S. during his first two years in office. One EO which is definitely unfortunate has been to rescind the International Entrepreneur Rule that Obama created. This rule allowed foreign-born entrepreneurs to stay in the U.S. for up to five years while they expanded their business.
So, if you were planning on taking advantage of the so-called “Start-up Visa”, you are no longer able to do so. It has never been easy to acquire a Visa to live and work in the U.S. but there are other routes available to you such as the E-2 Treaty investor Visa or EB-2 C Visa. It’s important to seek advice early from experienced attorneys who are up to date on the latest requirements for visas.
Obtaining your visa might not be straightforward, but the great news is that, once you do, Trump’s America looks to be in good shape from the perspective of the international entrepreneur. Although there is a political ideology in play at present regarding certain Nationalist issues, for the most part, the business world, and many Americans recognize and appreciate the huge contribution expats have made in the business world.
It’s well-known that many of the largest and most successful start-ups had immigrants at their helm. In fact over half (44 out of 87) of start-ups that went on to be valued at $1 Billion or more were begun by immigrants. When it comes to the business, rather than the political world, your skills and abilities as an international entrepreneur are far more likely to be appreciated than undervalued because of a rise in Nationalism in a small minority of people.
Overall the business outlook is healthy. The job market is growing healthily, and was at its strongest since 1997 during 2018, with 2.5 million jobs added to the economy. The Stock Market has been touching all-time highs, and during the second quarter of 2018, the economy grew at a 4.2% rate. Importantly, the drop in the rate of Corporate Tax from 35% to 21% is good news for business owners in the U.S.
There’s no doubt that President Trump is one of the most politically divisive figures in recent memory. For all the criticisms that are leveled at him, he is able to stir up strong emotions like very few others can. It’s easy amongst the Twitter Wars, the outrageous comments and the questionable moral decision making to feel that America is headed towards a very dark time. But the truth is that in many ways Trump has highlighted issues that were there long before he took office. And those issues are ones that Americans will have to learn to process and come to terms with.
It’s important to remember the perceptions are not always the same as the reality of life in the era of Trump. When InterNations surveyed expats in 2017 only 36% of expats rated the political stability of the U.S. favorably, however over two-thirds of people rated the economy positively. This underscores the divide between the political turmoil and lived reality of how many expats are thriving economically.
While it’s true that many Americans and expats feel gloomy about the political landscape in 2018, it does need to be weighed with the perspective of how much damage Donald Trump can truly do in the longer term view. As Paste Magazine argued after Trump’s election – it’s worth being aware of the limits of presidential power; “America is a big, complex, high-tech, diverse country. [They] have a robust federal system that reserves a lot of power for the states and local city governments; big progressive states and big cities like California and NYC often create public policies that become a model for the nation, long before Washington catches up.”
The era of Trump may be challenging in some respects, but your ability to survive and thrive in Trump’s America is great – if you keep your head and don’t get lost in the headlines and rhetoric.
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