From Tim Cook to Sundar Pichai, top technology leaders in the US have come out in the open to criticise US President Donald Trump’s latest crackdown on immigration.
Through an executive order on Monday, Trump suspended till the end of the year the H-1B visas prized by Indian professionals. The freeze will not affect those already in the US on the H-1B and the other work visa categories being put on pause.
“Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today. Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all,” Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in a tweet.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was deeply disappointed by the new proclamation.
“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,” he said.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stressed that “immigration is central to America’s story, and it’s central to my own family’s story.”
“My family escaped danger and found a new home in America,” she said in a tweet.
Wojcicki said that YouTube would “join Google in standing with immigrants and working to expand opportunity for all.”
In fiscal year 2019, the US government awarded more H-1B visas to Amazon than any other firm, according to GeekWire.
The new proclamation also drew criticism from the company which termed the action “short-sighted”.
“We oppose the administration’s short-sighted action. Preventing highly skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts America’s global competitiveness at risk,” an Amazon spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Microsoft President Brad Smith also condemned the move.
“Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety. Immigrants play a vital role at our company and support our country’s critical infrastructure. They are contributing to this country at a time when we need them most,” he said in a tweet.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he very much disagreed with the action.
“Very much disagree with this action. In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators. Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad,” he said in a tweet.
Facebook and Twitter also condemned the new visa restrictions.
The freeze ordered by Trump on Monday will not affect those already in the US on the H-1B and the other work visa categories being put on pause.
Making the announcement, the White House said that Trump wants to reform the immigration system to a “merit-based” one.
Briefing reporters about the reform plan, a senior official said that one of its features would ban companies from bringing in employees on H-1B visas and outplace them to work in other US companies.
Many Indian — and some US — companies that act as subcontractors sponsoring workers on H-1B visas and deputing them once they are in the US to work elsewhere could see their business model hit.
The official said that another reform would change the way the 85,000 annual H-1B visas are given from the current lottery system to one where the wages will determine who gets them.
Those offered the most wages will get priority instead of those hitting “a lucky number” in the lottery, the official said.
Indians are the single largest group of H1-B visa-holders accounting for nearly 74 per cent of the work visas.
The official said that Trump wants the wage structure for H-1B visas to be changed from the current one set during the administration of former President Bill Clinton, and the new minimum will be the 50th percentile of the national income.
That is the median income or the middle of the range and is currently $63,000, according to the Census Bureau.
The official said that Trump wants the changes made as soon as possible “will do so by regulation as soon as we possibly can.”
When Trump imposed a 60-day pause on permanent immigrant visas or green cards on April 22, the H-1B and other temporary work visas escaped the freeze but are now affected.
The green card restrictions, which do not apply to spouses and children of immigrants, will also now continue until the end of the year.
The White House announcement of the new freeze said that it would also encompass H-2B, H-4, L-1 and J-1 visas.
However, those in the healthcare field and those considered important for national security will be exempt and continue to receive visas, as will farmworkers and nannies.