Silicon Valley slams Trump's move to freeze H-1B visas; Pichai disappointed, Microsoft bosses feel it's not the right time
The tech giants have opposed restrictions on the visas.
Hours after the proclamation was issued by the US President, Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter to express his disappointment.
The India-born tech head stressed on the importance of immigration and how it has contributed to America’s economic success. "Disappointed by today’s proclamation - we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all," he wrote.
Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Go… https://t.co/dnE6h9JG8U— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) 1592864457000
Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, believes now is not the correct time to cut the US off from the world's talent or create uncertainty and anxiety. He said that America needs immigrants more now to contribute to this country. "Immigrants play a vital role at our company and support our country’s critical infrastructure," his post read.
Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety. Immigrants pla… https://t.co/5gWNUB3bY4— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) 1592874125000
Smith's post was further retweeted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Twitter also issued a statement on US high-skilled immigration proclamation. It said that the move undermines America’s greatest economic asset, which is its diversity.
It further mentioned that people from all over the world come to the US to join the labour force, pay taxes in the country, and contribute in making America a global leader in the world.
"Unilaterally and unnecessarily stifling America’s attractiveness to global, high-skilled talent is short-sighted a… https://t.co/Ob2We3ROX6— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) 1592864670000
Quoting Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, VP, Public Policy and Philanthropy, Twitter, the post said, "unilaterally and unnecessarily stifling America’s attractiveness to global, high-skilled talent is short-sighted and deeply damaging to the economic strength of the United States."
Herrera-Flanigan also retweeted the post.
Meanwhile, an Ivy League university joined the conversation as well. It said that it would continue to welcome people of all backgrounds and nationalities, and stand with its international faculties, staff and students.
#PrincetonU would not be the institution it is today without the contributions of our international community membe… https://t.co/Uibch2VxNQ— Princeton University (@Princeton) 1592875409000
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.
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.
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.
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. H-2B visas are for non-professional workers.
Similarly, in the J-1 category nannies or au pairs -- who are employed by the elite across the political spectrum -- are exempt, while it would apply to scholars and researchers except those in certain health or specialised fields or are professors.
The H-4 visas are for spouses of H-1B workers and the restrictions are linked. Employees transferred by their companies to work in the US are given L-1 visas. Under new rules announced on Monday by the immigration service, asylum applicants cannot apply for work authorisation for a year instead of the current 150 days.
The COVID-19 pandemic has become a justification for Trump's longtime intent to restrict immigration, a demand of a part of his base as well as of some in the Democratic Party who have reservations about the impact of immigration on wages.
The economic disruption caused by the pandemic has led to a groundswell of opposition among Americans to immigration and foreign workers with various polls showing more than two-thirds supporting restrictions.
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