Indian American-led tech giants decry new Trump visa curbs

Sundar Pichai
Sundar Pichai; photo credit: Google

Seeking reversal, lawmakers stress “need to mend, not end” H-1B program.

As Google’s Indian American CEO Sundar Pichai led the Silicon Valley’s charge against President Donald Trump’s move to suspend H-1B and other work visas until yearend, an India born lawmaker urged him to reverse 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,” tweeted a “disappointed” Pichai hours after Trump’s proclamation.

“Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all,” wrote the India-born CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet.

“Now is not the time to cut our nation off from the world’s talent or create uncertainty and anxiety,” tweeted Brad Smith, President of Microsoft led by another Indian-American CEO, Satya Nadella.

“Immigrants play a vital role at our company and support our country’s critical infrastructure,” he wrote. “They are contributing to this country at a time when we need them most.”

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of Alphabet-owned YouTube also joined Pichai saying, “Immigration is central to America’s story, and it’s central to my own family’s story.”

RELATED: H-1B, H4 and L1 visa banned till the end of the year (June 22, 2020)

“My family escaped danger and found a new home in America. @sundarpichai is right – at @YouTube, we join Google in standing with immigrants and working to expand opportunity for all,” she tweeted.

Twitter itself called the high-skilled immigration proclamation  “short-sighted” which “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,” it noted.

“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,” it wrote under Twitter Public Policy handle. The post was retweeted by CEO Jack Dorsey.

SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared, “Very much disagree with this action. In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators. Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad.”

RELATED: H-1B updates: What are the implications of Trump’s new executive order? (Posted June 22, 2020)

The US Chamber of Commerce warned that “restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.”

“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” the Chamber’s CEO Tom Donahue stated.

Here is his full statement”

“Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back. Restrictive changes to our nation’s immigration system will push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation.

“We are fighting for more investment and more growth in America because that means more jobs, and today that fight takes on a new level of urgency. We have long advocated for a rational immigration system that meets the needs of our economy and reflects the values of our country. Today’s proclamation serves neither of those interests. The U.S. Chamber will continue to strongly advocate for an immigration system that serves the interests of all Americans.”

Meanwhile, several “disappointed” US lawmakers including an Indian American Democratic House member Raja Krishnamoorthi urged Trump to reverse his decision to help “create the jobs we need for our economic recovery.”

“I’m deeply disappointed by President Trump’s misguided order to suspend these key work visa programs,” he stated.

“I urge him to reverse this decision to help ensure our health care system and broader economy are ready to combat the next phase of (coronavirus) pandemic and to create the jobs we need for our economic recovery.”

RELATED: NASSCOM: Curbs on H-1B, other work visas ‘harmful’ to US economy (June 23, 2020)

“The H-1B program in particular plays a crucial role in addressing dangerous shortage of health care professionals while also providing other key sectors of our economy with talent from around the world to not only fill jobs, but create new ones,” Krishnamoorthi said.

“Suspending this program will only weaken our economy and our health care workforce at a time when the need to strengthen both is as clear as ever,” he added.

“This is not the right approach,” said another Democratic Indian American lawmaker Ro Khanna joining Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin and fellow House member Bill Pascrell

“We need to mend the H-1B program not end it. Instead of suspending H-1B visas, the Trump Administration should ask Congress to pass the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2020, which reforms the H-1B program with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer,” they wrote

They have introduced a bipartisan legislation, which they say would protect American workers and end the abuse of the H-1B program to outsource American jobs and exploit workers, while ensuring employers could still hire talented immigrant workers when no qualified American is available to do the job.

Meanwhile, an Indian trade group representing the country’s IT service industry decried the visa curbs saying that they are “misguided and harmful to the US economy.”

“The proclamation issued today barring the entry of certain non-immigrants into America and setting new conditions for others is misguided and harmful to the US economy,” the National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) stated on Tuesday.

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