Google, Apple, Amazon slam Trump’s immigration crackdown

Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook, Box condemn the move.

Washington: Tech leaders are criticizing US President Donald Trump over his visa suspension order as tech giants have employed thousands of immigrants and rely on them for their economic growth.

Trump have signed an order to suspend H – 1B and L – 1 visas till December. The scheme is aimed at protecting local workers who are facing unemployment due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

An executive order signed on Monday suspends foreign work visas including the L-1 visa that allows firms to transfer staff from overseas offices and the H-1B visa that enables companies to hire highly skilled people in certain fields.

Google’s Sundar Pichai, YouTube’s Susan Wojcicki and Tesla’s Elon Musk along with representatives of Amazon, Facebook and Twitter were quick to condemn the restrictions.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai

“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today,” Pichai said via Twitter.

“Disappointed by today’s proclamation — we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook said via Twitter: “Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity, and hope in the enduring promise of the American Dream. There is no new prosperity without both. Deeply disappointed by this proclamation.”

Microsoft President Brad Smith

President of Microsoft, Brad smith criticizing the plan said, “Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety.”

Youtube CEO Susan Wojcicki

Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, said on Twitter that immigration was central to America’s story and her own family’s story. “My family escaped danger and found a new home in America.”

Musk said that he disagreed with the action “very much” on Twitter. “In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators,” he wrote. “Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad.”

Facebook condemns move

Facebook also condemned the move. “President Trump’s latest proclamation uses the Covid-19 pandemic as justification for limiting immigration,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “In reality, the move to keep highly-skilled talent out of the U.S. will make our country’s recovery even more difficult. Highly-skilled visa holders play a critical role in driving innovation— at Facebook and at organizations across the country — and that’s something we should encourage, not restrict.”

Amazon joins the row

Amazon, which received more H-1B visas than any other company in 2019, described the move as short-sighted in a statement. “Preventing high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts American’s global competitiveness at risk,” the company said. 

Box CEO Aaron Levie

Box CEO Aaron Levie described the executive order as an “unbelievably bad policy on every level” adding that it will not make America better or more competitive in any way.

Organizations representing the tech sector also took issue with the executive order.

The Internet Association — founded in 2012 by several companies, including Google, Amazon, eBay, and Facebook — focused on the H-1B program, which allows 85,000 people with highly specialized knowledge to move to the U.S. with their families.

“The diverse and accomplished H-1B visa holders in the U.S. create American jobs and help our economy grow,” said Sean Perryman, the association’s director of social impact, in a statement. “All industries benefit from a visa system that allows U.S. companies to attract the best and brightest no matter where they’re from.”

The executive order could also hurt smaller tech companies and the U.S. start-up ecosystem.

Matt Turck, a venture capitalist at FirstMark, pointed out that overseas entrepreneurs may start their companies outside the U.S. if they can’t get a visa.

“I was on an H1B visa for 10 yrs,” he wrote on Twitter. “Started a company with co-founders also on H1Bs. Hired American employees, served U.S. customers. This was our American dream. But today the same company could be started anywhere.  Why would the next generation bother if they can’t get a visa?”

Visas restricted till December

The restrictions on the visas will come into play on June 24 and remain in place until December this year.

The Migration Policy Institute predicted that up to 219,000 workers would be blocked as a result of Trump’s executive order.

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