Tech titans take aim at US president freeze on H-1B and other visas

Tech titans take aim at US president freeze on H-1B and other visas
Tech titans take aim at US president freeze on H-1B and other visas :File Photo

President Donald Trump administration has justified suspension of some worker visas on grounds it will boost US jobs, but execs cry foul.

United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday temporarily barring certain foreign worker visas until the end of the year.

While the Trump administration has justified the freeze on the grounds that it will open up more than half a million jobs for US workers, business leaders are crying foul.

The order takes aim at several types of worker permits, including H-1B visas that are very popular with technology companies looking to recruit software engineers and other skilled workers from abroad.

But critics have maintained that US tech firms exploit H-1B visas to outsource jobs to foreign workers at lower pay.

Among the tech titans taking to Twitter to lambast Monday’s executive order are Google’s Sundar Pichai and Tesla’s Elon Musk.

Pichai, Google and Alphabet Inc’s chief executive officer, said he was disappointed by the proclamation, adding also that immigration had contributed greatly to US economic growth, “making it a global leader in tech and also Google the company it is today”.

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Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and PayPal representatives also took to Twitter, with Amazon calling the administration’s policy “short-sighted” and several tech companies pledging to continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.

Facebook in a company statement said that President Trump’s latest proclamation “uses the COVID-19 pandemic as justification for limiting immigration”.

“In reality, the move to keep highly-skilled talent out of the US will make our country’s recovery even more difficult,” the company said.

According to US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Amazon had the most number of H-1B visa approvals at 3,026 in 2019. Google had 2,678, Microsoft had 1,701, Facebook had 1,518 and Apple had 1,136 H-1B visa approvals in 2019.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook tweeted “This nation has also found strength in our diversity”, adding that he was also “deeply disappointed” by the proclamation.

Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX CEO, wrote on Twitter that he very much disagreed with the Trump administration’s decision.

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“In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators. Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad,” Musk wrote. Tesla had 324 H-1B visa approvals in 2019.

Twitter also took to its own platform to say that the proclamation undermines “America’s greatest economic asset: its diversity”. Twitter had 117 H-1B visa approvals in 2019.

PayPal’s CEO Dan Schulman wrote on LinkedIn that creating new restrictions for immigrants who seek to work in the US is disappointing, warning that it “will slow our progress as a nation”.

Also speaking out against the proclamation on Twitter were Box Inc CEO Aaron Levie, Microsoft President Brad Smith, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and CEO Marc Benioff.