On 23rd June 2020, US President Donald Trump signed a “Proclamation Suspending Entry of Aliens Who Present a Risk to the U.S. Labor Market”. This proclamation will take effect immediately and will expire on 31 December 2020, and can be extended if necessary. As a result of this, more than 525,000 jobseekers will be unable to enter the country, at least temporarily.
The reason behind this proclamation is the economic hardship caused by the pandemic. The rates of unemployment in the US are at an all time high as demand for both skilled and unskilled labour plummets to record low levels.
The proclamation bans the entry of immigrants to the US by freezing visas including H1B, H4(used by tech worker), L(intracompany transferred employees) and J (used by work and study abroad students). However, certain categories of immigrants like medical professionals, spouse/child of US citizens have been exempted from this suspension.
The fact this is an election year in the United States cannot be overlooked. President Trump is quite popular for his dislike for immigrants, which is in fact, one of his election promises. This proclamation makes good on his promise to “make America great again”.
The reaction to this proclamation has been mixed. Trump’s followers are supporting this decision while most, including tech companies and even other Senators are strongly opposing this ban.
Elon Musk, founder of Tesla disagreed with this news and tweeted “Very much disagree with this action. In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators. Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad.”
Before this decision was formalized, on May 27, nine senators wrote a joint letter to the president to reconsider the then rumoured immigration restrictions. “Guest workers are needed to boost American business, not take American jobs,” they wrote.
In addition to this, many tech officials have told the government that this ban will hurt the companies and will reduce their ability to compete in the international market. This will decrease the talented and skilled workers in America. This would also force international companies to set up their operational base in other developed countries with less immigration restrictions.
Anshul Sharma who is an H1B immigrant and the CEO of Skyflow reacted to this news by saying “Banning all H1B visas means CEOs like me have to open offices and hire more people in countries like Canada that allow immigration. This visa ban is morally wrong and economically stupid.”