Elon Musk condemns Trump decision to freeze foreign worker visas to US

Elon Musk condemns Trump decision to freeze foreign worker visas to US

Trump signed the proclamation on Monday this week, which would temporarily block hundreds of thousands of foreign workers coming into the US.

The order extends a previous 60-day freeze on work visas that was put in place in April, Business Insider reports.

The move is understood to suspend H-1B, H-2B, H-4, J-1, and L-1 visas until the end of 2020.

Those visas refer to which workers will be allowed into the country. For example, the H1-B visa programme applies to high-skilled workers, and the BBC reports that many are granted to Indian tech workers as US technology giants seek to outsource work cheaply.

The White House says that the move will “ensure American workers take first priority” as the country recovers its economy from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But Elon Musk, US billionaire and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has voiced opposition to the move.

Elon musk talking animatedly

Elon Musk said that the visa action was too broad. (Image: Peter Parks / AFP / Getty)

He called the action “too broad” in its scope, and said that the skillsets that would be affected by the visa suspensions normally allow the creation of jobs.

Musk wrote on Twitter: “Very much disagree with this action. In my experience, these skillsets are net job creators. Visa reform makes sense, but this is too broad.”

He was joined by other company executives, such as the CEO of Google and the President of Microsoft, in denouncing the action.

In a statement on the new visa order, the White House claimed that it would preserve jobs for domestic US workers.

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Donald Trump speaks under an umbrella

Donald Trump announced the visa suspension on Monday. (Image: Pete Marovich / Getty)

It read: “President Trump’s efforts will ensure businesses look to American workers first when hiring.

“With some exceptions, we should not permit large numbers of foreign workers to enter the United States at a time when so many Americans are out of work.

The statement also claimed that polls showed the “overwhelming majority” of US citizens supported pausing immigration while the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But some replies to Musk’s tweet also voiced opposition to the move.


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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaking at a conference

Google CEO Sundar Pichai also voiced opposition to Trump’s move. (Image: Justin Sullivan / Getty)

One wrote: “Well said Elon, legal skilled immigration is the best thing a country can do to its economy.”

Another wrote: “Without immigration, neither Tesla nor SpaceX would exist! In fact, most tech around us was brought to us by immigrants & people who came to the US on an H1-B.”

Meanwhile, CEO of Google Sundar Pichai tweeted: “Immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google the company it is today.

“Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all”.

someone holding a passport on a plane

It’s thought that the move will affect hundreds of thousands of US visa applicants, according to reports. (Image: Krisanapong Detraphiphat / Getty)

And Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, said that immigrants “are contributing to this country at a time when we need them most.”

According to a press briefing for reporters, the Trump administration said that the move would impact around 525,000 people, the BBC reports.

Monday’s announcement also affects some new ‘green cards’, which allow foreign nationals residing in the US to live there permanently.

As well as affecting the H1-B visa programme that applies to high-level workers, the visa suspension will suspend H-2B visas for seasonal workers, though a senior administration official said there would be some exceptions here regarding agriculture, aquaculture and seafood, according to reports.

It will also suspend L visas, which concern people who work in executive or managerial positions within companies.

Published at Wed, 24 Jun 2020 02:28:00 +0000