The founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories has written a letter to President Donald Trump objecting to restrictions placed on work visas for immigrants seeking to earn employment in the U.S.

On Monday, the White House announced it is extending and expanding its April proclamation preventing certain immigrants from working in the U.S., including those with H-1B visas, H-2B visas, L-1 visas and J-1 visas. The restrictions are set to last through the end of the year.

The White House cited the country’s high unemployment rate and the need to protect unemployed Americans as the reason for the proclamation.

SEL’s Edmund Schweitzer III wrote a letter to Trump saying SEL hires employees with visas, green cards or who have become naturalized citizens.

“At SEL, our colleagues who came here from other countries contribute to the ideas, teamwork, project execution, and sweat that enable us to be a growing U.S. manufacturing employer and exporter to other nations,” Schweitzer wrote.

SEL, headquartered in Pullman, invents, designs and manufactures products that protect power systems around the world. As an example of the diverse array of employees who contribute to the company’s products, Schweitzer said a digital relay SEL launched two years ago was invented by employees who came from Mexico, Poland, South Africa, India and the United States.

In the letter, Schweitzer applauded Trump for getting rid of regulations that “are sand in the gears of economic and political freedom.”

However, Trump’s immigration proclamation is not consistent with this goal of deregulation and not “in line with getting our economy going again, after the government‐ordered shutdowns related to the coronavirus,” Schweitzer wrote.

Schweitzer wrote that the immigration process needs to be easier. He wrote that SEL spends substantial time and resources ensuring it is abiding by immigration laws.

“We have many immigration cases in process which are suddenly, without any warning, affected by your proclamation,” Schweitzer wrote to Trump.

Schweitzer stated that SEL often prefers to bring employees to the U.S. where they can contribute to U.S. society, instead of employing them outside the country.

In another point, Schweitzer wrote he has never seen the immigration process favor foreign applicants over domestic applicants.

This is not the first time Schweitzer has spoken in favor of making paths to immigration easier.

In January 2018, Schweitzer wrote in a Daily News letter to the editor that SEL supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which the Trump administration tried to dismantle.

In that letter, Schweitzer wrote: “SEL has employees working under DACA who are valuable contributors to our company and mission to make electric power safer, more reliable and more economical. Their work benefits SEL, our employee owners, the communities we serve, our customers and the growth of the U.S. economy.”

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at

Recommended for you