Tech Firms Claim Trump’s Visa Moratorium Will Hurt Business Due to ‘Shortage’ of ‘Talent’ in U.S.

President Trump speaks during a roundtable at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 8, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

American tech firms condemned the Trump administration’s decision to extend a pause on high-skilled H-1B visas, which are frequently used in the industry, warning that it “puts American’s global competitiveness at risk.”

The new restrictions, signed by Trump in an executive order on Monday, go into effect on Wednesday and will last through the end of the year. The administration explained that its decision stemmed from the fact that “more than 20 million United States workers lost their jobs in key industries where employers are currently requesting H-1B and L workers to fill positions.” In May, a group of Republican senators cited rising levels of American unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic in a request that Trump ramp up his guest-worker restrictions.

But U.S. tech companies responded with almost universal criticism of the new measures.

“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,” Microsoft president Brad Smith tweeted.

“Preventing high skilled professionals from entering the country and contributing to America’s economic recovery puts American’s global competitiveness at risk,” Amazon said in a statement.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai tweeted that he was “disappointed” by the decision.

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

Intel warned that its ability to lead in “the fiercely competitive global semiconductor industry” required H1-B visas. “The U.S. must be able to attract and retain highly trained and specialized engineers and scientists from all over the world. There is a shortage of such talent in the U.S., and foreign national graduates of U.S. advanced degree programs are essential to closing this skills gap,” the company explained.

The Information Technology Industry Council, a prominent lobbying group for Silicon Valley giants Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Oracle, and Salesforce, said Trump’s move “will have a dangerous impact on the economic recovery and growth for years to come.”

“As U.S. companies get their employees back to work, immigrants working in the technology industry are vital to sustaining promising recovery trends, as well as supporting the United States’ ongoing response to COVID-19,” the group said.

Carl Guardino, CEO of business-advocacy organization the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, told The Mercury News that a majority of Silicon Valley engineers — 58 of every 100 — “weren’t blessed to be born in the United States.”

“For us not to be celebrating that and to be intentionally blocking that is a sad day for this country,” Guardino said.

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