Jake Flanagin | Quartz | March 6, 2017 | 0 Comments

Trump’s Braintrust Just Won an Immigration Battle with Silicon Valley They Have Been Fighting for Years

A man walks past a building on the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. Google said Wednesday, May 11, 2016 Jeff Chiu/AP File Photo

Say this for Donald Trump: he and his top advisors seem determined to follow through on even the most extreme of their campaign promises. That’s why US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday, March 3, that it will temporarily suspend expedited “premium processing” of applications for H-1B visas beginning April 3. The visa is favored by US tech companies, as it allows them to source specially-skilled STEM workers from abroad—namely, highly-credentialed engineers, IT specialists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, and medical doctors.

Premium processing makes successful job candidates eligible for work visas in 15 days, as opposed to the regular period for review, which can take months. At a rally in Michigan the night before the election, Trump claimed, “our jobs are being stolen like candy from a baby,” and apparently believes that slowing the down the approval speed of H-1B visa applications will give more Americans a chance to compete for job openings that require high levels of education and skill.

Trump’s appointed attorney general, Jeff Sessions, likely had a hand in crafting the new policy. Historically, Sessions has been vocally critical of H-1B visas. In 2015, the then-senator co-sponsored a bill with Ted Cruz of Texas which aimed to intensify criteria for H-1B applicants; followed by another bill, co-sponsored with Bill Nelson of Florida, which called for a reduction in H-1B admissions by 15,000. (The US currently caps granted H-1B applications at 65,000 a year for skilled workers and 20,000 for graduate students.)

According to Quartz India, USCIS said reigning in premium processing would allow it to address a large backlog visa applications, reducing H-1B visa processing times across the board. USCIS also individuals can still request expedited review, but must satisfy certain new standards—humanitarian or emergency reasons, or potential for substantial financial loss to the individual or hiring company.

The action is designed so that Trump can say he’s following through on a principal campaign promise: to stop immigrants from purportedly taking American jobs.

It’s a apprehension perhaps encouraged by White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. In an interview the former Breitbart executive chair conducted with the president last year, Bannon expressed concern over the demographics of Silicon Valley executive management. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think…” he said, before trailing off. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”

It’s certainly not a policy arising out of any real concern for the American economy, to be sure. In fact, hampering the country’s H-1B program will likely do more economic harm than good. A study conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that, between the years 1990 and 2010, individuals working in the US on H-1B visas added 10 to 20% in annual productivity growth, resulting in more than $500 billion added to the national economy. And unless tech companies decide to lower the bar for these job openings, it’s unlikely that there are enough properly trained and educated American workers to fill these open positions.

Comments
JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.