Trump’s visa crackdown will likely upset Silicon Valley

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President Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’
President Trump may butt heads with Apple again.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

As if Silicon Valley needed another reason to not approve of President Donald Trump, the White House has started to deliver on its promise of cracking down on work visas given to overseas workers — many of whom toil in the tech industry.

This week, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency issued a memo detailing moves it intends to make to fight “fraud and abuse” of the program, while also warning employers that they shouldn’t discriminate against U.S. workers in their hiring.

This follows an announcement by the agency last Friday that it will be harder for companies to bring in international tech workers on the much-used H-1B work visa.

The problem the rules change is supposed to address is undercutting American workers by hiring lower-paid foreign workers as part of the H-1B program.

The Economic Policy Institute estimated there were about 460,000 people working on H-1B visas in 2013. Two years later, other figures suggested that around 12 percent of all H-1B applications certified by the Department of Labor are for computer programmer roles — with 41 percent of positions being at the lowest wage level.

Apple isn’t one of the companies singled out in reports as relying unduly on foreign labor in the U.S., but the company has repeatedly clashed with Trump.

After Trump’s temporary travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, Tim Cook gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal, in which he described the “heart-wrenching” messages he had received about the executive order, which potentially affects hundreds of Apple employees.

Trump has also butted heads with Apple on the question of the company bringing back manufacturing to the U.S., rather than relying on plants located overseas.

Source: Bloomberg