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ESA urges caution on US immigration policy

Trade group tells Trump administration that foreign workers are vital to domestic game industry

The Entertainment Software Association today released a statement on Friday's executive order signed by US President Donald Trump banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country for at least the next 90 days. While the trade group representing various game publishers wasn't as clear in its condemnation of the move as the organizers of the Game Developers Conference, its statement showed unease with the direction of US immigration policy.

"The Entertainment Software Association urges the White House to exercise caution with regard to vital immigration and foreign worker programs," the ESA said. "As a leading force in technology and exporter of entertainment, the US video game industry thrives on the contributions of innovators and storytellers from around the world. While recognizing that enhancing national security and protecting our country's citizens are critical goals, our companies rely on the skilled talent of U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, and immigrants alike. Our nation's actions and words should support their participation in the American economy."

The ESA has frequently lobbied US lawmakers to increase H-1B visas for skilled workers. Friday's executive order made no exception for H-1B visa holders from the affected countries, and Trump's previous comments suggest he has little support for the program. During his inaugural address earlier this month, Trump said the country under him would "follow two simple rules; buy American and hire American."

This is not the only issue on which Trump and the ESA are at odds. The ESA has also lobbied in support of free-trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership. Trump last week pulled the US out of the TPP, and suggested that existing agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement would need to be renegotiated.

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