Amazon, Google, Apple speak out against Trump H-1B visa freeze

  • Amazon, Google, Apple, Twitter, and other major tech companies are criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to stop certain immigration visas.
  • In an order Monday, Trump extended the freeze on green card visas and added new restrictions on H-1B visas and other work visas, and officials argued that it would prevent immigrants from taking American jobs during a crisis. economic.
  • Tech companies said the freeze would make American companies less competitive and less diverse.
  • The technology industry relies heavily on the H-1B visa and other work visas to recruit employees from outside the US. USA, particularly for technical work.
  • Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.

Major tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Uber, Twitter and Box, denounced President Donald Trump’s freeze on a series of immigration work visas on Monday, calling it “incredibly bad policy” that would undermine the economic recovery of United States and its competitiveness.

Trump issued a proclamation on Monday suspending the issuance of a variety of visas that allow foreigners to work in the U.S. USA For a limited time. The administration said the suspension, which affects H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1 and L-1 visas, was necessary to protect American workers at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has taken unemployment to its highest level. in decades

The order extends the April restrictions that put a 60-day freeze on green cards until the end of the year, and adds the new restrictions that cover work visas.

Tech companies rely on H1-B visas in particular to import engineering talent from around the world, helping them maintain Silicon Valley’s competitive advantage in an increasingly global market. Last year, Google and Amazon received approximately 9,000 H1-B visa applications.

“Preventing highly qualified professionals from entering the country and contributing to the economic recovery of the United States puts the global competitiveness of the United States at risk,” an Amazon representative told Business Insider. “The value of highly qualified visa programs is clear.”

The United States has 85,000 “highly qualified” H-1B visa positions open each year.

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, an immigrant himself, tweeted his opposition to the order on Monday, saying: “Immigration has contributed immensely to the economic success of the United States, making it a world leader in technology, and so has Google, the company. which is today. “

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a tweet that he was “deeply disappointed by this proclamation,” and that: “Like Apple, this nation of immigrants has always found strength in our diversity and hope in the lasting promise of the dream. American”. there is no new prosperity without both. “

Aaron Levie, the founder and CEO of Box, spoke even more forcefully, tweeting that Trump’s order was “an incredibly bad policy at all levels”, “it would only mean that more jobs move outside of the United States” and “from There is no way to improve the United States or be more competitive. “

The order, which will take effect on Wednesday and last until the year of the year, does not apply to foreign workers with visas who are already in the country or those outside the country who have already received visas, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In a call to reporters on Monday, Trump administration officials said the order would reserve 525,000 jobs for U.S. citizens and cited the high coronavirus-induced unemployment rate as one of the reasons for extending the freeze.

‘This proclamation undermines America’s greatest economic asset’

Several attorneys Business Insider spoke to said they thought the prolonged freeze could lead to a more restrictive immigration policy in the long term and that the administration was using the pandemic to carry out its efforts to limit immigration more permanently.

“My personal opinion is that we will not return to any kind of relief from things, even when things calm down,” Reaz Jafri, an immigration attorney at Withers Worldwide, told Business Insider.

They also said that this order and the previous order in April had created confusion for many companies and people on work visas.

“Even for those of us who were in the bush on these immigration issues, we have some concerns based on the language of what will come next,” said Sharon Barney, immigration attorney at Leech Tishman.

Microsoft President Brad Smith also alluded to that confusion in his statement, saying, “Now is not the time to separate our nation from global talent or create uncertainty and anxiety.” He added: “Immigrants play a vital role in our company and support the critical infrastructure of our country. They are contributing to this country when we need them most.”

One by one, on Monday and Tuesday, a parade of tech companies and tech executives posted statements on Twitter or other channels, promoting the contributions of immigrants to the U.S. economy and arguing that Trump’s order would cause U.S. companies to be less competitive by hampering their rental capacity.

“This proclamation undermines America’s greatest economic asset: its diversity. People from around the world come here to join our workforce, pay taxes, and contribute to our global competitiveness on the world stage,” Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Vice President of Public Policy and Philanthropy Twitter for the Americas, Business Insider said in a statement.

Facebook echoed that and said restricting immigration would make it harder for the US economy to recover from the pandemic. “President Trump’s latest proclamation uses the COVID-19 pandemic as justification to limit immigration,” a Facebook representative told NBC News. “In reality, the movement to keep highly-skilled talents out of the United States will make our country’s recovery even more difficult.”

Other tech companies that spoke out against the order included Salesforce, Airbnb and Uber, and the transportation call giant called the order “disappointing for people around the world.”

Netflix declined to comment for this story.