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The two sides are fighting over H-1B visas, which lets U.S. companies hire foreign workers
Earlier this week, leading Presidential candidate Trump unleashed his controversial immigration plan, in which he took an explicit shot at Silicon Valley for its immigration hiring practices, and an inexplicit shot at the Fwd.us, the PAC founded, and supported, by a number of high profile tech innovators that supports immigration reform.
Trump's main beef with the tech world was over H-1B visas, which Fwd.us has been lobbying to increase, and which Trump accused companies in the ecosystem of using to pay its workers lower wages, and to take away jobs from qualified Americans.
On Thursday, the PAC finally responded to Trump in a blog post, taking on his issues over H-1Bs, but without ever actually mentioning him by name.
"The idea we should radically restrict pathways for highly-skilled immigrants to come and stay here is –again – just wrong," Todd Schulte, President of Fwd.us, wrote, instead advocating for a system that "help entrepreneurs create the next generation of innovation here in the U.S."
"That means creating a Startup Visa to help entrepreneurs create the next generation of innovation here in the U.S.; it means clearing the green card backlog to allow those who qualify and want to stay here to build their lives and grow our economy, and it means increasing the numbers of H-1B visas and reforming the program so that we don’t run out of spots in the current yearly allotment for this critical program within only a few days every year."
Shulte then pointed to stats for why these types of visas are actually good for the workforce, including that fields that have a high percentages of H1-Bs have a lower unemployment rate than the national average, and that geographic areas with more H1-Bs have lower rates of unemployment and higher economic growth.
H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis in what are known as "specialty occupations." These are jobs that require highly specialized knowledge, such as computer science.
These workers are supposed to be paid the same as all other employees, but many have accused companies that hire workers on thse visas of essentially exploiting them by paying them less. Trump is among those critics.
"More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two," he wrote in his immigration plan.
"Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas."
Trump specifically singled out technology companies for taking advantage of the practice, which he said allowed them to, essentially, discriminate against minorities in this country.
"This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities," he said.
The reference to Rubio was the shot he took at Fwd.us, as Rubio is one of the pro-immigration reform Senators that the PAC has run ads for. Rubio also happens to also be running for President right now, but I'm sure that had nothing to do him being named specifically. Right? Of course not!
Trump may be trying to go up against Silicon Valley and Fwd.us, but he should know that the PAC has a lot of star power behind it. It was formed in 2013. and its founders include Zuckerberg, Ron Conway, John Doerr, Reid Hoffman, Bill Gates, Sean Parker and Drew Houston.
Some of its listed supporters include Tim Armstrong, Steve Ballmer, Brian Chesky, Barry Diller, Reed Hastings, Max Levchin, Phil Libin, Andrew Mason, Marissa Mayer, Mary Meeker, Mark Pincus, Keith Rabois, Eric Schmidt, Kevin Systrom and Gary Vaynerchuk.
See what I said about star power? Of course, Trump is never one to back away from a fight, and he will likely continue to hammer tech companies over their hiring practices in the coming months.
Say what you will, but at least this is something like an actual policy debate, something we see very, very little of from our candidates.
(Image source: blendspace.com)
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