Trump’s ban risks isolating US tech
Human Resources

Trump’s ban risks isolating US tech

President Trump’s immigration and travel ban has sent alarm bells ringing all over the world, creating practical difficulties and posing many ethical questions. The technology sector is likely to be affected intimately by ongoing uncertainty but it might also be a powerful defence against the continuation of such controversial escapades.

The US economy has benefited hugely from the uber-trend of digitisation that has gathered pace over the past 50 years. It was the birthplace of the founding fathers of the computer industry such as IBM, NCR, Sperry and Burroughs. Later it fostered companies that popularised business computing such as Hewlett-Packard and DEC. It effectively invented and commercialised personal computing with the IBM PC and the Apple Macintosh. Microsoft, Oracle, Lotus, WordPerfect and others drove the client/server computing years and when the World Wide Web hit, many of its stars, from Google and Facebook to Amazon, Salesforce.com and eBay, came out of the United States.

The conditions that enabled the growth of these companies are many and interconnected but we can say with confidence that their successes were encouraged by a strong legal system, stable government, effective infrastructure, powerful business/academic links and educational institutions. But very clearly we should also say that America has benefited hugely from an immigration system that gives US tech firms access to skills from all over the world and has made Silicon Valley a place of pilgrimage for entrepreneurs around the globe.

Many of America’s tech elite came from humble immigrant stock and some have stories that are emblematic of the effectiveness of that great, open-handed offer: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free’.

When President Trump turns away from that ethos he plays a high-stakes game that creates a mistrust of his country, limits the scope of US technology firms and rents the very fabric that supports the sector and the prosperity it has helped to create. But the huge reaction from that sector suggests that it will not take this lying down.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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David Johnson on February 04 2017

George Stephenopolis replied when he was being grilled by reporters why Bill Clinton had not kept most his campaign promises; "The president has kept every promise he ever intended to keep". Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promises to the American people. I do not recall President Trump making promises to any American companies that he would make it easier for them to replace American workers with immigrants. I'm not surprised the tech companies that sponsor you are upset by that.

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Mike on February 04 2017

I don't think I'd call it a high-stakes game, but yes there is some risk. A VERY small number of techies come from those restricted countries, but beyond even those, there are other problems that big companies ignore when the get H1-B replacements. We don't get ONLY the top-notch people from other countries and those folks that aren't really sharp, can bring in additional baggage for which it is VERY difficult to compensate. I've worked in several industries over the past 30 years. Starting in the military-industrial complex, then education and finally in medical devices (MRI appliances). Each "industry" had their own versions of the imported replacement worker. In the military-industrial complex, I helped train the scientists recently graduating from some of our better schools. After switching to education, I was a mid-level "executive" responsible for the computer systems in a single school district in California. When changing career paths once again, I became part of a team that provided engineering documentation for R&D and manufacturing as well as, once again, training for the incoming engineers and scientists. In each position, training would take about a month and then remedial classes were provided as needed. Gradually, it became apparent that the number of "engineers" we were importing contained fewer top-notch, ready-to-hit-the-job kind of people. But still, companies save big when using H1-B employees. A different company is used to acquire the prospective employees, they will generally start at a lower salary and training can be accomplished by the non-certificated employees that have the experience and know-how to show the noobs how things actually work in the company. So, it's not entirely a BIG WORRY. I do notice a lot of people in the press that have restless leg syndrome - or, maybe that's just a knee-jerk reaction to something they disagree with.

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Johnny Adams on February 04 2017

Your saying US technology is more valuable than human life liberty and freedom. What planet are you from? Evidently your islamic sympathizer.

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David on February 04 2017

I've worked in the technology field for over 25 years. Burroughs, IBM, Lotus Notes, I've done them all. My father was an immigrant from China. My mother was an immigrant from Cuba. Both came in legally. Trump is not stopping all immigrants from entering. Only those from known terrorist countries. To say stopping illegal immigrants from entering the country will harm the technology sector is ridiculous. Illegal immigrants don't have these skills. Legal immigrants from countries such as China or India do. This article is a terrible opinion piece. At least get your facts right.

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Jim on February 05 2017

Martin, Your article is absolute BS! The ban is on 7 countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia, all countries found to be fueling terrorist activities - This is not a Muslim ban. Please provide numbers which show the number of IT resources being used by U.S. companies from these 7 countries. Maybe that will help us better understand the impact. Our ability to leverage the best “tech elite” still exists and you will find no evidence that this ban has any negative impact. I believe if you dig deeper the only concern these U.S. companies have is if President Trump continues to do the right thing for the American people by stopping/limiting the H1B Visa programs which have impacted the hard working American IT workers. U.S. companies love the H1B Visa program because they get cheap resources and can abuse them by making them work day and night. This has nothing to do with talent! I am a software engineer with 30 years of hands-on experience, I have watched opportunities taken away from U.S. IT resources for cheaper, less experience, less talented resources from other countries – This is the problem you should be writing about! Stop grandstanding, get your facts straight and write something truthful.

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Eric on February 06 2017

Unfortunately, when the Media no longer writes unbiased work, it is no longer news, it is propaganda. At that point people stop listening and the Media looses the respect of the people. We need to put our opinions aside and report the truth as it is, without glitter, without fanfare, complete and unbiased facts. The media reports News not Propaganda.

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DMcI on February 06 2017

Love how people like to claim the H1-B program is used to bring in workers at lower pay. Baloney! While I agree that not all H1-B employees are top performers, companies rarely turn to the H1-B program to get cheaper workers. As someone who had to find/hire qualified tech workers, companies usually turn to H1-B because they can't find the skills they need, even the most basic, locally in the US. Not only must they, by law, offer the job to a qualified US worker first, then if they decide to hire the H1-B participant, they MUST offer/pay that person at least the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage, whichever is higher that they would have offered an American counterpart; pay for non-productive time in certain circumstances; and offer benefits on the same basis as for U.S. workers; , they also pay a fee ranging between $750 - $1500 fee plus an anti-fraud fee of $500 per H1-B participant that is supposed to go into a pool of $$$ that is then distributed to the States to use to train US workers in these needed skills. If you haven't seen anything in your local State employment offices about available free or low-cost training for tech, etc. skills, then your beef is with your State governments. H1-B visas are TEMPORARY and require employers to do a lot of paperwork, demonstrate that hiring this worker is not displacing qualified American workers and record-keeping both before and after hiring an H1-B, H1-B1 or E3 worker. BTW, it isn't just temporary tech workers that get brought in, there are other specialty skills that are covered by other types of visa/employment programs to help employers. Some of these employers offer Americans plenty of job oppiortunities, but Americans simply do not want to do the work (shepherds;seasonal farm harvesting work; etc.), or can't do it (chick sexers; fashion models, artists, professional athletes fall in this category); or don't consider the pay worthwhile, even if the pay is considered fair and standard for that type of work. One other note, since the H1B visa is temporary and only for a specified about of time, at some point, that H1B will be leaving. And yes, it is possible his/her visa may be renewed extended for another similar job in the US, but only after the current/new employer has once again, tried to fill the position with a qualified US worker, paid the fees, etc. If you know someone who was truly qualified to perform a tech job and deliberately displaced by an H1B hire, that person needs to file a complaint with the Dept of Labor. There are penalties --rather steep $$$$ depending on the situation -- for employers that violate the provisions of the program. For more info, go to: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

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Martin Veitch on February 07 2017

David & other commenters, Thanks for your thoughts. Many tech companies clearly think this is the thin end of the wedge. N.b. the amicus brief filed by 127 tech firms and the general panic and and confusion within those companies, their employees and their employees' families. The US tech industry has gained hugely from immigration and light-touch visa rules in my opinion. *Johnny* the word is "you're" - we can all learn from each other.

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Jim on February 09 2017

Can't see how a short term ban endangers the IT industry's access to cheap labor, mostly from India. A few years ago, this was all brought home to me when I had a consulting gigue with a large company. I exited the elevator on the wrong floor one day and encountered an entire floor of software developers and others from India. I have never seen anything like it. English not spoken here. These people were not H1B types. They were hired through job placement companies in India. Surely there are American engineers that could do the work but probably not for what they pay these guys.

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Martin Veitch on February 10 2017

Hi Jim, Maybe not initially but the wider attempt to protect US jobs through more controls on H1Bs etc would be a huge challenege for American tech. Even if the skills were there, hiring more American workers will lead to a tectonic shift in cost bases, especially in services. Accenture etc would become uncompetitive versus Wipro, Infosys etc... and therefore unable to hire Americans.

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Neal on February 20 2017

RE:"Only those from known terrorist countries." The vagueness of this statement belies ignorance on your part. The Trump Muslim Ban EO does nothing to increase safety. There hasn't been a single attack from any immigrant from these "known terrorist countries", and further, the affected immigrants vetted and legal. IOW, even though you are a techie and your parents are immigrants, you don't know what you are talking about.

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David S on February 27 2017

Before dismissing the comments from others, consider that there has been no evidence linking individuals from these 7 countries to terrorism real or imagined, in the US. Meanwhile, the actual sources of terrorism as borne out factually are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Turkey and Azerbaijan. May I remind you that Saudi Arabia was home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists? Suggest you distance yourself from your well-meaning desire to protect the country, and look at the ACTUAL facts; not the lies coming from a White House without credibility. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as the incumbent attempts to muzzle the press,intimidate the weak and redirect/ interfere with the independence of the intel & law enforcement communities. If you don't see the similarities between his actions, use of propaganda on the American people, corrupt business practices and lies upon lies, then there is no convincing you. I hope that is not the case and that you are capable of critical, unbiased thinking. I once was a Trump fan, then I realized he was TV actor bent on pursuing the best ratings, all the time. https://www.bloomberg.com/.../2017-trump-immigration-ban-conflict-of-interest/

no-images

David Johnson on February 04 2017

George Stephenopolis replied when he was being grilled by reporters why Bill Clinton had not kept most his campaign promises; "The president has kept every promise he ever intended to keep". Donald Trump is keeping his campaign promises to the American people. I do not recall President Trump making promises to any American companies that he would make it easier for them to replace American workers with immigrants. I'm not surprised the tech companies that sponsor you are upset by that.

no-images

Mike on February 04 2017

I don't think I'd call it a high-stakes game, but yes there is some risk. A VERY small number of techies come from those restricted countries, but beyond even those, there are other problems that big companies ignore when the get H1-B replacements. We don't get ONLY the top-notch people from other countries and those folks that aren't really sharp, can bring in additional baggage for which it is VERY difficult to compensate. I've worked in several industries over the past 30 years. Starting in the military-industrial complex, then education and finally in medical devices (MRI appliances). Each "industry" had their own versions of the imported replacement worker. In the military-industrial complex, I helped train the scientists recently graduating from some of our better schools. After switching to education, I was a mid-level "executive" responsible for the computer systems in a single school district in California. When changing career paths once again, I became part of a team that provided engineering documentation for R&D and manufacturing as well as, once again, training for the incoming engineers and scientists. In each position, training would take about a month and then remedial classes were provided as needed. Gradually, it became apparent that the number of "engineers" we were importing contained fewer top-notch, ready-to-hit-the-job kind of people. But still, companies save big when using H1-B employees. A different company is used to acquire the prospective employees, they will generally start at a lower salary and training can be accomplished by the non-certificated employees that have the experience and know-how to show the noobs how things actually work in the company. So, it's not entirely a BIG WORRY. I do notice a lot of people in the press that have restless leg syndrome - or, maybe that's just a knee-jerk reaction to something they disagree with.

no-images

Johnny Adams on February 04 2017

Your saying US technology is more valuable than human life liberty and freedom. What planet are you from? Evidently your islamic sympathizer.

no-images

David on February 04 2017

I've worked in the technology field for over 25 years. Burroughs, IBM, Lotus Notes, I've done them all. My father was an immigrant from China. My mother was an immigrant from Cuba. Both came in legally. Trump is not stopping all immigrants from entering. Only those from known terrorist countries. To say stopping illegal immigrants from entering the country will harm the technology sector is ridiculous. Illegal immigrants don't have these skills. Legal immigrants from countries such as China or India do. This article is a terrible opinion piece. At least get your facts right.

no-images

Jim on February 05 2017

Martin, Your article is absolute BS! The ban is on 7 countries: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia, all countries found to be fueling terrorist activities - This is not a Muslim ban. Please provide numbers which show the number of IT resources being used by U.S. companies from these 7 countries. Maybe that will help us better understand the impact. Our ability to leverage the best “tech elite” still exists and you will find no evidence that this ban has any negative impact. I believe if you dig deeper the only concern these U.S. companies have is if President Trump continues to do the right thing for the American people by stopping/limiting the H1B Visa programs which have impacted the hard working American IT workers. U.S. companies love the H1B Visa program because they get cheap resources and can abuse them by making them work day and night. This has nothing to do with talent! I am a software engineer with 30 years of hands-on experience, I have watched opportunities taken away from U.S. IT resources for cheaper, less experience, less talented resources from other countries – This is the problem you should be writing about! Stop grandstanding, get your facts straight and write something truthful.

no-images

Eric on February 06 2017

Unfortunately, when the Media no longer writes unbiased work, it is no longer news, it is propaganda. At that point people stop listening and the Media looses the respect of the people. We need to put our opinions aside and report the truth as it is, without glitter, without fanfare, complete and unbiased facts. The media reports News not Propaganda.

no-images

DMcI on February 06 2017

Love how people like to claim the H1-B program is used to bring in workers at lower pay. Baloney! While I agree that not all H1-B employees are top performers, companies rarely turn to the H1-B program to get cheaper workers. As someone who had to find/hire qualified tech workers, companies usually turn to H1-B because they can't find the skills they need, even the most basic, locally in the US. Not only must they, by law, offer the job to a qualified US worker first, then if they decide to hire the H1-B participant, they MUST offer/pay that person at least the local prevailing wage or the employer's actual wage, whichever is higher that they would have offered an American counterpart; pay for non-productive time in certain circumstances; and offer benefits on the same basis as for U.S. workers; , they also pay a fee ranging between $750 - $1500 fee plus an anti-fraud fee of $500 per H1-B participant that is supposed to go into a pool of $$$ that is then distributed to the States to use to train US workers in these needed skills. If you haven't seen anything in your local State employment offices about available free or low-cost training for tech, etc. skills, then your beef is with your State governments. H1-B visas are TEMPORARY and require employers to do a lot of paperwork, demonstrate that hiring this worker is not displacing qualified American workers and record-keeping both before and after hiring an H1-B, H1-B1 or E3 worker. BTW, it isn't just temporary tech workers that get brought in, there are other specialty skills that are covered by other types of visa/employment programs to help employers. Some of these employers offer Americans plenty of job oppiortunities, but Americans simply do not want to do the work (shepherds;seasonal farm harvesting work; etc.), or can't do it (chick sexers; fashion models, artists, professional athletes fall in this category); or don't consider the pay worthwhile, even if the pay is considered fair and standard for that type of work. One other note, since the H1B visa is temporary and only for a specified about of time, at some point, that H1B will be leaving. And yes, it is possible his/her visa may be renewed extended for another similar job in the US, but only after the current/new employer has once again, tried to fill the position with a qualified US worker, paid the fees, etc. If you know someone who was truly qualified to perform a tech job and deliberately displaced by an H1B hire, that person needs to file a complaint with the Dept of Labor. There are penalties --rather steep $$$$ depending on the situation -- for employers that violate the provisions of the program. For more info, go to: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models

no-images

Martin Veitch on February 07 2017

David & other commenters, Thanks for your thoughts. Many tech companies clearly think this is the thin end of the wedge. N.b. the amicus brief filed by 127 tech firms and the general panic and and confusion within those companies, their employees and their employees' families. The US tech industry has gained hugely from immigration and light-touch visa rules in my opinion. *Johnny* the word is "you're" - we can all learn from each other.

no-images

Jim on February 09 2017

Can't see how a short term ban endangers the IT industry's access to cheap labor, mostly from India. A few years ago, this was all brought home to me when I had a consulting gigue with a large company. I exited the elevator on the wrong floor one day and encountered an entire floor of software developers and others from India. I have never seen anything like it. English not spoken here. These people were not H1B types. They were hired through job placement companies in India. Surely there are American engineers that could do the work but probably not for what they pay these guys.

no-images

Martin Veitch on February 10 2017

Hi Jim, Maybe not initially but the wider attempt to protect US jobs through more controls on H1Bs etc would be a huge challenege for American tech. Even if the skills were there, hiring more American workers will lead to a tectonic shift in cost bases, especially in services. Accenture etc would become uncompetitive versus Wipro, Infosys etc... and therefore unable to hire Americans.

no-images

Neal on February 20 2017

RE:"Only those from known terrorist countries." The vagueness of this statement belies ignorance on your part. The Trump Muslim Ban EO does nothing to increase safety. There hasn't been a single attack from any immigrant from these "known terrorist countries", and further, the affected immigrants vetted and legal. IOW, even though you are a techie and your parents are immigrants, you don't know what you are talking about.

no-images

David S on February 27 2017

Before dismissing the comments from others, consider that there has been no evidence linking individuals from these 7 countries to terrorism real or imagined, in the US. Meanwhile, the actual sources of terrorism as borne out factually are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Turkey and Azerbaijan. May I remind you that Saudi Arabia was home to almost all of the 9/11 terrorists? Suggest you distance yourself from your well-meaning desire to protect the country, and look at the ACTUAL facts; not the lies coming from a White House without credibility. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as the incumbent attempts to muzzle the press,intimidate the weak and redirect/ interfere with the independence of the intel & law enforcement communities. If you don't see the similarities between his actions, use of propaganda on the American people, corrupt business practices and lies upon lies, then there is no convincing you. I hope that is not the case and that you are capable of critical, unbiased thinking. I once was a Trump fan, then I realized he was TV actor bent on pursuing the best ratings, all the time. https://www.bloomberg.com/.../2017-trump-immigration-ban-conflict-of-interest/

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