Tisch takes aim at Trump’s visa policies

Meanwhile, Blackstone's Jonathan Gray calls for immigration reform

From left: Jonathans Gray and Jonathan Tisch (credit: STUDIO SCRIVO)
From left: Jonathans Gray and Jonathan Tisch (credit: STUDIO SCRIVO)

In recent weeks, leading real estate executives stood on stage with Donald Trump, openly endorsed his presidential campaign or even went to work for it. But there are also many in the industry who oppose his politics – and one of them appears to be Jonathan Tisch.

Although he didn’t name Trump, the co-chairman of Loews Corporation appeared to refer to the Republican front-runner when he criticized the “fear-filled rhetoric” in U.S. politics in a speech Monday morning. 

“It was not long ago that we saw that same mentality as a reaction to 9/11,” he said at NYU’s Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. “But we learned that pulling back from the rest of the world is not an option. Adopting a ‘Fortress America’ mentality did us much more harm than good.”

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Tisch was talking about the U.S. visa waiver program, which allows travellers from countries like France or South Korea to travel here without a visa. It’s a program Trump wants to scrap, but Tisch argued that tightening visitor rules could cost the U.S. dearly in lost tourism jobs and revenue.

Speaking hours later, Jonathan Gray, head of the Blackstone Group’s real estate division, made a similar plea against closed-border policies. When Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo asked him how the U.S. could boost economic growth, Gray pointed to immigration reform.

Reform, he said, “could bring in more highly educated people and resolve the issue with a lot of undocumented folks who I think could pay taxes and be more productive in this society.”