Whenever Mexico's national soccer team plays, it's typically a great day for Supermercados Teloloapan, a chain of Texas supermarkets that's popular among Hispanics. Before "El Tri" takes the field, customers typically spend hundreds of dollars buying cases of beer, fajitas and avocados for get-togethers.

Not so in 2017.

Clemente Ayala, the owner of Houston-based Supermercados Teloloapan, says that business has been slow at each of his thirteen stores since the election of Donald Trump in November. The president's strong rhetoric and bold actions on immigration have put fear in Hispanic consumers, causing them to be more conservative with their money. They're holding onto it, said Ayala, and for Supermercados Teloloapan, which employs 190 people, that hurts business.

"People are still afraid. They aren't going out with the same enthusiasm as before. They're not throwing parties," Ayala said in Spanish. "In absolutely no way has President Trump helped my business."

As Trump reaches his 100th day in office, entrepreneurs and small businesses across industries are weighing in. Trump has accomplished little through legislation, but when it comes to immigration, he has acted forcefully through executive orders, regulatory changes, deportations and a repeated rhetoric of "America First."

That rhetoric has already altered reality for the many business that rely on non-Americans to fill jobs. In a survey of small businesses that rely on foreign workers, conducted in March by TriNet, 76 percent said that no longer being able to hire or employ foreign nationals would have a negative impact. TriNet, which provides human resources services for small and medium-size businesses, reported that 82 percent of the respondents said immigration regulations will become more burdensome in the next four years, and 75 percent said they do not believe the Trump Administration understands how immigration reform will impact small business.

Some business owners support the president on immigration, but many like Ayala say Trump is making their lives more difficult by scaring customers, making it tougher to hire foreigners and adding uncertainty to America's stance on immigration.

Out west, this has manifested itself as a duel between the White House and Silicon Valley.

After Trump tried twice to thwart travelers from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country, tech companies responded by putting their weight behind lawsuits against the president. For the tech industry, keeping open borders is vital to hiring the world's top technologists. The industry relies heavily on the use of H-1B visas for talent, claiming that the U.S. alone is not producing enough tech workers to meet the industry's rapid growth. Nonetheless, Trump has persisted, and through multiple rule changes and clarifications, he has made it more difficult for companies to apply for H-1B visas. As a result, the immigration program this year saw its first decline in applications in years.

"Tech startups are going to increasingly feel the burn when it comes to recruiting top talent in their growth stages," said Jon Silber, CEO of Purple Squirrel, a San Francisco job search company. "Recruiters are going to have to go pick from a smaller pool as international workers become less viable and have to compete with more established tech companies in the realm of benefits and compensation."

Another tech company that has felt the impact of Trump's policies is Farmers Business Network. This San Carlos, California, company is used by entrepreneurial farmers across the U.S. for data analytics and e-commerce. Charles Baron, co-founder of FBN, says that agriculture is facing a challenging year because farmers are unsure they will be able to fill their labor needs: "Dairy producers, livestock producers, independent family farms all have labor needs. You're talking about states and rural economies where agriculture is the backbone of that economy."

The labor pinch has similarly been felt by other businesses that rely on immigrants for strenuous and demanding roles.

Lior Rachmany, the CEO of Brooklyn-based Dumbo Moving + Storage, says his company has had a tougher time finding people who are willing to spend their days driving around New York City and moving heavy furniture up and down countless flights of stairs. "It's ironic because the idea of cutting immigration is to create more jobs for Americans, but it's very unlikely for Americans to take these jobs and do what's fully required of the job," Rachmany said.

As Dumbo readies for its busy summer season, the company typically turns to young immigrants who are in the U.S. on student visas. Around this time a year ago, Rachmany says his company had already received 40 or 50 job applications. This year, Dumbo has two. Rachmany is not sure why fewer people are applying, but he is certain that it will become harder for his company to find workers if Trump's anti-immigration actions continue.

But not all entrepreneurs have given Trump a bad grade.

Back in Texas, Frank Zaccanelli says Trump's presidency is a work in progress but his policies "are clearly pro business," citing the president's proposed tax plan and his efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Zaccanelli is the CEO of Fiamma Partners, an investment and development company in Dallas. He says he's happy to see Trump's handling of the H-1B visa program, which he believes needs to be retooled. "The H-1B program was a good idea at the beginning, but like all government programs, it's been manipulated by corporations," said Zaccanelli, who said he voted for Trump and for President Obama. "I think it needs to get back to what it was set out to do, which is to be a supplement to the American workforce."

As for undocumented immigrants, Zaccanelli says that the country will be fine so long as Trump focuses his deportation efforts on criminals and "bad people." However, things would change if Trump takes things too far, Zaccanelli said: "I would tell you, in Dallas, Texas, you would have a hard time putting a meal out at a restaurant if you were to deport all of the Mexican workforce that's here."

Published on: Apr 28, 2017