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Could the end of DACA hurt foreign investment in Southern California?

By in Press Enterprise on October 30, 2017

By Brenda Gazzar

As he met with business leaders recently in downtown Los Angeles, Stephen Cheung listened carefully as a Mexican official expressed financial concerns about President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA.

Cheung, president of the World Trade Center Los Angeles, which leads the region’s efforts to attract foreign investors, soon realized why Salomón Chertorivski, Mexico City’s secretary for economic development, was so concerned.

Though Trump administration’s announcement on DACA wasn’t a direct attack on Mexico, Cheung explained that the perception among Chertorivski and many other foreign investors is that the decision is the Trump administration’s way of saying they want to “target Mexico in a negative way.”

And a target on Mexico, he added, might be read as a target on the whole world. No one, Cheung said, wants to do business with someone that they believe “has certain hostile feelings” toward them.

“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Cheung said. “We’re putting off this image that we’re not welcoming to the international community, to both their immigrants and their investments.”

If Cheung is right, and if DACA’s repeal sends a message that ultimate turns foreign investors away from the United States, the stakes could be huge for Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

Nearly 10,000 companies in Southern California are owned by people from outside the United States. These companies, collectively, employ more than 439,000 workers (about 4.3 percent of the region’s workforce) and pay them about $27.4 billion a year, according to data compiled last year by the World Trade Center Los Angeles.

The biggest foreign investors in regional businesses are from Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany, according to the data. But Mexico is a fast-growing economy, and Mexican investors or Mexican-headquartered companies already have about 250 operations in the region. […]    

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