Two dozen Democrats in Congress will send a letter to the president Monday, urging him to rescind his refugee and travel ban — and they are highlighting the risks to American tech to make their case.
“Like millions of Americans, we deeply object to your recent Executive Order barring the entry of residents and refugees of seven predominantly Muslim countries into the United States,” the letter begins, which was authored by Rep. Robin Kelly. “In addition to Constitutional concerns, the stance this Order takes is in contradiction of American values.”
The 24 lawmakers argue that the travel ban poses “great risk of lasting damage” to the US economy, with a focus on tech industry recruitment. They argue that Trump’s executive order undermines the ability of American tech companies to hire the world’s most talented workers. “This is a recipe for disaster,” the representatives write.
The lawmakers quoted Apple CEO Tim Cook, who told his employees soon after the executive order took effect, “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.” And they noted the personal background of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, “We would not be ‘Googling’ had Sergey Brin’s parent’s never left the Soviet Union for American shores,” states the letter. The representatives are also seeking to protect so-called high-tech work-visa programs that allow tech companies to hire skilled workers for temporary stays.
President Trump has criticized the programs in the past. And a leaked draft of an executive order has raised concerns in Silicon Valley that the president may soon extend immigration restrictions to them. Critics of skilled-immigration visa programs say they are abused by outsourcing companies who place lower-paid foreigners in positions that Americans could otherwise fill. Proposals in Congress that would increase the salary requirements for these positions have already sent shock waves through India, where several outsourcing tech firms lost billions in market value last week.
But the representatives tell President Trump that the demand for STEM workers currently outpaces supply, with jobs in the fields of science, engineering, and math only expected grow.
“We have an obligation to continue beating the drum and fighting back against this reckless, unconstitutional and un-American Executive Order,” Rep. Kelly told BuzzFeed News in a statement. “The American people deserve to understand how much Trump’s Muslim ban endangers our morals, our economy, and our security."
Reps. Barbara Lee, John Conyers, Ted Lieu, and Sheila Jackson Lee were among the letter’s signatories.
Hamza Shaban is a technology policy reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Hamza Shaban at Hamza.Shaban@buzzfeed.com.
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