President Trump’s recent executive order, barring citizens of seven Islamic countries from entering the United States (US) has been widely criticized by the US technology industry. The industry happens to be a major employer of international workers. Furthermore, Trump immigration order bars even those people who hold valid visas and permanent residences.
These countries include Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya. This dramatic change in immigration policy relates to a new endeavor by the Trump administration, to localize jobs in the US as well as avert potential terrorist threats. It is a step further from the Obama administration’s ‘Visa Waiver Program’ and ‘Terrorist Travel Prevention Act’ of 2015.
Many senior executives of technology companies in the US have raised their concerns on Trump immigration ban, citing their personal and other relevant experiences. Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote in his memo that the company founded by late the Steve Jobs, a son of Syrian immigrants, “would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said, “Not allowing countries or refugees into America is not right and we must stand with those who are affected.” Airbnb plans to provide free housing to anyone not allowed into the US.
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As it is evident, this immigration policy change will leave many foreign employees of US companies stranded. It also affects the education and migration industry worldwide. According to Bloomberg, US colleges and universities could lose up to USD 700 million in annual revenues, due to the Trump immigration ban. Eventually, it could even derail the US from its position as a top study destination for international students.
More insightful are facts that nearly 80 percent of Iranian students are in so-called STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Only India, at 80.1 percent, has a higher share of foreign US STEM students. Former President, Barack Obama, had said that STEM students hold the keys to the nations’ future. Thus far, these fields have contributed enormously to the US economy.
Given that the US is a technology-driven and industrialized economy, immigration will continue to remain its top issue and priority. For now, the rest of the world will have to wait and see how this situation affects other industries!