Immigration is one of the biggest topics on President-elect Donald Trump’s political platform, which aims to give economic development and employment an America-first focus. Within days of winning the election of Nov. 8, Trump declared his intent to deport 3 million illegal immigrants residing within U.S. borders.
Trump’s election has also called attention to the controversial H-1B non-immigrant work visa, which allows tech companies easy employing rights to foreign workers. The president-elect has variously expressed his desire to retain non-citizen skilled labor, while also declaring the need to scrap the visa, at least in its current form.
The H-1B visa, he said in March, isn’t about irreplaceable talent but “temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay.”
Critics of the program say that it allows employers to replace American technicians with foreigners, who are willing to work under worse conditions, and are bolden to their employers both for the visa itself and for the future hope of acquiring permanent residency.
“I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements,” Trump said.
Another criticism of H-1B visas is that they are disproportionately awarded to tech giants such as Google and IBM, despite the fact that thousands of firms apply every year. In 2014, of the tens of thousands of H-1B visas allowed annually, over 32,000 went to just 20 companies, according to Wired.
Supporters of the H-1B program say that it would be difficult to replace the hundreds of thousands of foreign information tech and software workers who used it to get jobs in the U.S. Some point to the danger that tech companies might not hire in the U.S. at all and instead outsource jobs abroad if denied the current options.
Featured image: A group of young Indian software designers work in Calcutta, 05 November 2004. Credit: DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images