CA Business Owners’ Reaction to Executive Orders

Migrant workers harvest broccoli near Santa Maria. Some California business owners aren't happy about the new president's crackdown on undocumented workers. Photo Credit: Beth Golden

Logan Pollard
California News Service

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In the past week, President Trump signed executive orders to build a wall along the Mexican border and to cut off federal funds to “sanctuary cities” – in California and across the country.

While Wall Street has been bullish, small business owners, particularly those with immigrant interests, are not happy about it. Michelle Sternthal, deputy director of policy and government affairs at Main Street Alliance – a network of small businesses across the country with offices in San Diego – said the border wall is very unpopular.

“As business owners, we know that entrepreneurship is something which immigrant communities have over twice the rate of entrepreneurship as native-born folks,” Sternthal said, “and they’re the engines of our economy.”

But a recent poll found a significant number of Californians support Trump’s priorities, at least to some degree. About one-third of the respondents said California would be better off with a border wall; 45 percent said it would be worse off.

The Main Street Alliance represents about 30,000 small business owners nationwide. Sternthal said she believes these moves by the nation’s chief executive are damaging – perhaps not to Wall Street, but to Main Street, and to something deeper.

“That not only destroys the foundational elements of our society, a society of immigrants,” she said, “but it also is a blow to entrepreneurship and small business growth, when we have the best ideas and newest minds and sort of the hungry workers who are coming here to go and to fulfill the American dream.”

California’s lucrative agribusiness relies heavily on immigrants who are paid low wages. Roughly 39,000 undocumented workers live in Santa Barbara County, and another 78,000 live in Ventura County.

On Sunday January 29th, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined attorney’s general of 15 other states in pushing back against the president’s orders concerning refugees. He also released a statement that challenged the executive orders regarding the border wall and punitive measures against sanctuary cities.