Published: Wed, February 01, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Immigration divides America and the Silicon Valley

Immigration divides America and the Silicon Valley

But, while most in the tech industry stopped short of directly criticicing the new president, they went much further than their counterparts in other sectors, who were mostly silent over the weekend. The current H-1B visa regime, which covers skilled labor, mostly grants visas to companies that practice outsourcing.

"Trump's immigration ban is antithetical to both Lyft's and our nation's core values", said Logan Green, head of the ride-sharing firm Lyft, a company not much known in Europe but one that competes with Uber in the US.

The threatened executive order is aimed at overhauling the work visa programmes that tech companies depend on to hire thousands of employees each year.

Silicon Valley benefit strongly from skilled immigration from numerous countries affected by Donald Trump's plan, and stand to lose significantly if the ban continues.

"Immigrant STEM workers have contributed an outsize share to founding new companies, getting patents, and helping build up American companies, which in turn due to their success have created tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of jobs", said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who does research in labor markets.

Kalanick has faced opposition on social media for agreeing to be part of the advisory group.

Despite the wide range of technological advances and the competition for investments, Silicon Valley appears to be united in support of immigrants and refugees.

"Like San Francisco, it's home to hundreds of technology companies", McCabe said.

Bloomberg notes this means that businesses "would have to try to hire American first and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the most highly paid".

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At Google, CEO Sundar Pichai, said in a company email the organisation is "upset" with the ban which directly affects at least 187 staff. That could help set a precedent for people in similar situations, but at smaller companies. "Stay tuned for more, contact me if in urgent need for housing".

Meanwhile, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a memo to employees that almost 200 employees overseas would be affected by the move.

But, as soon as Donald Trump signed the immigration order, tech giants made a decision to denounce it, with Microsoft's CEO Sundar Pichai posting that it was "painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues". And while Trump tried to make peace with an industry that largely denounced his candidacy - with a few exceptions - at that mid-December summit at Trump Tower, six weeks later most tech industry leaders are sounding alarm bells over the immigration issue strikes at the heart of their global mode of doing business.

In this post Monday on the NYT's Bits blog, tech writer Jim Kerstetter discusses the obvious trouble the entire industry is facing when travel and immigration bans suddenly change the way they do business. He said he has spoken with a variety of people about organising but remains unsure about the best course of action. "I think that touched a nerve".

Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield and Union Square Ventures partners Albert Wenger and Fred Wilson promised to match contributions to the ACLU.

"I've heard from many of you who are deeply concerned about the executive order issued yesterday restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries". "ELLIS" is a also a reference to New York Harbor's Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants arrived.

It's a significant difference, but those wages are still lower than other employees at all three companies. A number of tech firms against Muslim ban are criticizing the order negatively.

In addition to holding a rally in Palo Alto, California, organisers of the event were urging tech workers at companies that have remained silent on Trump to walk out of their offices.

The tech industry is far from flawless when it comes to issues like economic and social justice.

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