President Donald Trump's travel ban barring U.S. entry for nationals of seven countries with majority Muslim populations stoked fear and confusion worldwide over the weekend, but more restrictions on foreign-born workers in the U.S. may be coming soon from the White House.
A leaked White House memo indicates Trump could make it harder for U.S. companies to hire skilled workers, who have H-1B visas. Trump has attacked the visa program as a source of cheap labor that undercuts American workers. As the Trump administration drafts the restrictions to the H-1B visa program, big tech companies in the Silicon Valley are reportedly working together on a letter opposing the travel ban, according to the digital news site recode, in a report published Wednesday.
Some of the companies dealt the most severe blow from the travel ban and restrictions on H-1B visas, including Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) , Apple (AAPL - Get Report) , Facebook (FB - Get Report) , Uber and Stripe and a consumer packaged goods company, are leading the effort to secure their workforces. Sources told recode that other industries will soon join the tech group.
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"The business community shares your commitment to growing the American economy and expanding job creation across the country," reads the letter.
"We hire both thousands of Americans and some of the most talented people from abroad, who work together to help our companies succeed and expand our overall employment. As you contemplate changes to the nation's complex and interconnected immigration policies, whether business and employment-based visas, refugees, or DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals], we hope that you will use us as a resource to help achieve immigration policies that both support the work of American businesses and reflect American values."
The letter continues by saying that, while U.S. businesses are willing to cooperate with meeting and enhancing the security needs of the U.S. immigration system, they will help the administration clarify and identify ways to support visa holders who work hard here in the United States, refugees who have entered through the U.S. Refugee Admissions program and 750,000 Dreamers in this country under the protections of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
The letter also describes the United States as a nation made stronger by immigrants and that U.S.'s entrepreneurs and business leaders' ability to grow their companies and create jobs depends on immigrants' contributions from all backgrounds.
The U.S. grants 65,000 H-1B visas annually to skilled workers, and an extra 20,000 to foreigners who graduated from American universities, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The visa program uses a lottery, and to be entered into it, applicants must have at least a bachelor's degree. The Brookings Institution reported that in 2013, some 27,000 of those visas went to workers in the Bay Area. The BBC reported in 2016 that Richard Verma, then U.S. ambassador to India, said that 70% of those visas go to Indian citizens, most of whom are working in tech and IT industry.
Salaries in 2013 for new H-1B hires at the top 20 companies that use H-1B workers ranged between $60,000 and $118,000 annually, according to testimony before the U.S. Senate by Howard University public policy professor Ronil Hira, in February 2016.