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.
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.— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) June 22, 2020
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”.
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.
Breaking News: President Trump will sign an executive order suspending foreign work visas, barring hundreds of thousands of people from coming to work in the U.S. The move includes the H-1B program for high-skilled workers and several other categories. https://t.co/ELdmTrwF4l— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 22, 2020
Amazon opposes the Administration’s short-sighted decision to pause high-skill visa programs. Welcoming the best & the brightest global talent is critical to America's economic recovery. We will continue to support these programs & efforts to protect the rights of immigrants.— Amazon Policy (@amazon_policy) June 22, 2020
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.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) June 23, 2020
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.
“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.
Statement on US high-skilled immigration proclamation:— Twitter Public Policy (@Policy) June 22, 2020
"This proclamation undermines America’s greatest economic asset: its diversity. People from all over the world come here to join our labor force, pay taxes, and contribute to our global competitiveness on the world stage.
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 Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.