Why The Tech Industry Is Challenging Trump On Immigration


The global community undoubtedly has a heavy reliance on—if not obsession with—technology. However, there is a mismatch when it comes to the supply and demand of digital skills required to fuel our economy.

A recent report suggests that there are currently over 220,000 unfilled coding positions here in the U.S. As technology continues to break down geographical barriers and makes our world feel smaller, many of the world’s biggest tech firms are filling those spaces with foreign talent.

Tech Pushes Back

President Trump’s announcement on Friday that America will be closing its borders to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries understandably sent shockwaves through the tech industry. In an age when collaboration holds the keys to success, restricting or blocking talent and brainpower entirely from the US will ultimately prove counterproductive to the nation’s health especially if this trend continues to blanket other nations.

The knock-on effect will likely compel tech behemoths such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Intel to rethink where they place key staff. Google has already recalled 187 of its affected staff from overseas. Microsoft has also pre-warned its shareholders that Trump’s executive order could have a material impact on its business. This article by PCMag further details what Silicon Valley is saying about Trump’s Immigration ban.

The ban will predominantly affect technology companies that rely on skilled staff from all over the world through H1-B visas.

“We strongly recommend Iranian green-card holders [those granted permanent residence] not leave the country until further clarity is achieved.” – The National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

The executive order is already causing widespread confusion with many afraid to take a business trip or vacation outside of the US because they might not be allowed back into the country. This is problematic since there is no denying that the nation’s greatest asset is its appeal to high-skilled immigrants and graduates who want to build a better future.

“We are a nation of immigrants, and we all benefit when the best and brightest from around the world can live, work and contribute here.” – Mark Zuckerberg

There is an element of irony in the Facebook CEO’s stance considering he just walked back a property lawsuit after he realized that filing lawsuits against native Hawaiians that would force them to sell him their land would not play out well.

“We’re concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US” – Google Spokesperson

Some might say that the big companies that reside in Silicon Valley have adopted an arrogant, above-the-law attitude as tech has progressed. However, it is clear something must change when Microsoft expresses concerns about their ability to adequately staff their research and development efforts or when one of the world’s most innovative leaders says this:

How to Make America Great Again

The only way to make America great again is by revamping the education system to prepare citizens with 21st-century skills; not by kicking out immigrants that are helping to shape the nation as one of the most advanced technological and research-oriented countries in the world.

Policies built on fear will not make the US a better and safer place. Rather they will isolate the US from the global community. The truth is that highly skilled graduates entering the country on H1-B visas seldom, if ever, commit terrorist attacks.

In Sum

Maybe, we should all take a step back from our personal fears, increasingly exploited by politicians, and give ourselves a good, old-fashioned reality check. And remember this: If you are reading this on an iPhone or Mac, note that Steve Jobs’s biological father was a Syrian migrant.

There are many ways to build a brighter and better future. Isolation is not one of them. The best way to Make America Great Again is by ensuring the education system provides students with skills for the jobs of tomorrow rather than the jobs of yesterday.

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