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AIA expresses ‘deep concern’ about immigration and travel restrictions

The professional organization released a statement today

New York City supertall
New York City supertall 432 Park Avenue, under construction
Kaesler Media/Shutterstock, Inc.

Three weeks after the Trump administration enacted a travel ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released a statement on immigration and the impact of “unilateral travel restrictions” on the building development, design, and construction sectors.

“Beyond the essential considerations of fairness and equity, restrictions targeting specific areas of the world can have profoundly negative business impacts,” AIA President Thomas Vonier said in the statement.

For the architecture industry, this means potential hindrances to regular business travel by employees and clients, recruitment of talent from other countries, and the success of international students and faculty in architecture higher education.

The statement also links to the AIA's seven principles regarding immigration and offers some concrete numbers on the role of immigrants in the industry. Some statistics of note:

  • Immigrant labor accounts for 23 percent of the total construction workforce in the U.S. (Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, American Community Survey.)
  • Half of U.S. large architectural firms have offices in the Middle East/North Africa, which is the largest reported share of international offices. (Source: AIA Firm Survey, 2015.)
  • In the 2014-2015 school year, 4,283 architecture students at accredited programs were nonresident [immigrants]. This represents 18 percent of the total—up from six percent in 2009. (Source: NAAB annual report)

Following the election in November, the AIA’s Executive Vice President Robert Ivy shared a note expressing a commitment to collaboration with then President-elect Trump. The message drew swift backlash from members, non-members, design critics, and the press, and prompted one firm to issue a public call to resign from the professional organization.

Read the AIA’s full statement from today here.