Since his inauguration in January, President Donald Trump has wasted no time taking steps toward fulfilling a campaign promise to enact tougher immigration measures.
The tech industry has come out against Trump’s immigration stances, particularly when it comes to a proposal to cut the number of H1-B workers coming to the United States. This visa program is often used by tech companies to hire foreign workers.
And now, we’re seeing some evidence that although many of Trump’s policies are still in the idea stage, they might be making tech companies more cautious about hiring foreign workers, according to jobs site Hired.
Data compiled by Hired shows that since the second quarter of 2016, tech companies have sent fewer interview requests to foreign workers. The most striking decline came in the fourth quarter of 2016, when tech companies sent 60 percent fewer interview requests.
Hired surmises that this drop is due to reaction to Trump’s election in early November.
Hired’s data is based on a sample of more than 175,000 interview requests and job offers facilitated by Hired in the last year. Hired, which focuses primarily on the tech industry, works with hundreds of companies, including major employers such as Facebook, Cisco and Intel.
Hired’s data doesn’t drill down into Austin, so I reached out to several Austin-based tech companies to see if they had pulled back on hiring foreign workers due to uncertainty of Trump’s immigration policies, or had noticed any less interest from foreign job applicants.
Most companies I contacted said it was business as usual.
Austin-based National Instruments, which makes testing equipment and software and employs 2,500 people in Austin, said it has not noticed a decrease in foreign applicants and that the number of H1-Bs the company applied for over the last several years has “remained consistent.”
Dell Technologies, which employs about 13,000 people in the Central Texas area, said “our hiring practices haven’t changed.” Other tech companies, such as Silicon Labs, simply declined to comment on this topic.
Tech industry experts said because most Trump immigration policies have not gone into effect - they are just in the idea stage at this point - tech companies are likely still watching and waiting to see what happens.
Trump has thrown his support behind a Senate bill called the RAISE Act, which would reduce legal immigration by an estimated 50 percent and give priority to English-speaking immigrants. Tech companies are generally opposed to this.
Trump and his supporters hope that by limiting immigration it will help preserve jobs for Americans.
But Todd Schulte, executive director of tech-funded immigration reform group FWD.us, argues that less immigration ultimately could harm the American economy and result in fewer jobs for everyone.
“What you’re starting to see is companies who look to the years ahead and say ‘If our ability to bring the best and brightest around the world is going to be substantially difficult in the United States, we’re going to look at other options.’ ” Schulte said.
Our next-door neighbors are already taking advantage. The New York Times wrote earlier this month that countries such as Mexico and Canada are already taking advantage of signals that Trump is sending that the United States wants to restrict immigration.
Canada has set up a new visa program that allows highly-skilled foreign workers to get two-year visas in less than two weeks.
And, unlike in the United States, the Times notes, there is no limit on the number of Canadian visas available.