President Trump has once again signed a travel ban, and just as before, the tech industry has voiced its opposition to the executive order, arguing that this revised ban will hurt U.S. businesses.

In addition to opposing the immigration order, which will prevent migrants from six Muslim countries from coming into the U.S., several tech companies also voiced their displeasure with the Trump administration's decision to end a program that makes it easy for companies to acquire the H-1B visas necessary to bring foreign workers to the U.S.

"A few cosmetic changes to the form and rollout of the travel order do not change its original intent," said a statement from Tech Stands Up, a grassroots group of tech industry workers that was formed after President Trump's initial immigration order, which was halted in federal court. "This ban unfairly targets Muslims and does not address the fundamental issues that affect the safety of our nation."

In the revised version of the immigration order, the Trump administration will continue to allow citizens of Iraq to come into the U.S. Additionally, the order no longer features a provision allowing religious minorities from banned countries into the U.S. The new order has also reduced the indefinite ban on refugees from Syria to a 120 day ban. The ban will be rolled out gradually over the course of the next two weeks, and people from banned countries who already have visas will continue to be allowed in.

However, just as with the original travel ban signed in January, the revised order will block people from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Libya for at least 90 days.

For many in tech, this travel ban hits close to home, since many of the top companies in the industry--including Google, Tesla, Uber, and Intel--were founded by immigrants. Additionally, most tech companies rely on foreign workers to fill large swaths of their technical roles, as the U.S. does not currently produce enough domestic talent to match demand.

Among the most notable companies that reacted to the order Monday were ride-hailing rivals Uber and Lyft.

"Lyft stands firmly against this order," CEO Logan Green said in a statement. "We will continue to speak out and take action when the values of our community are put at risk. [Co-founder John Zimmer] and I are meeting with the executive director of the ACLU on Wednesday to discuss how we can further support their efforts."

Also in opposition were venture capital investors.

"We are a nation founded by immigrants, and our ability to remain competitive globally depends on seeking out and investing in the best ideas and talent regardless of origin," says Kate Mitchell, co-founder and partner at Scale Venture Partners. "The U.S. doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas, and if we close our doors to great people and ideas, that capital will go overseas."

Besides the travel ban, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Friday announced the end of "premium processing" for H-1B visas. This program makes it possible for companies willing to pay a $1,225 filing fee to have their H-1B visa applications processed within 15 days, rather than have to wait numerous months.

USCIS announced the change as a way for the agency to get through a high backlog of H-1B applications. Premium processing will end on April 3, and the suspension of the program will last at least six months, the agency said.

It is expected that this change will make it more difficult for companies to bring on workers from outside the U.S.

"H-1B visas are an important part of solving the skills gap and the need for talent that companies struggle to fill," says  Vivek Ravisankar, co-founder and CEO of HackerRank, a Palo Alto, California-based startup that helps tech companies find talented software engineers.

Ravisankar is an immigrant from India who came to the U.S. after going through the H-1B lottery selection and receiving a visa in 2012. That year, he co-founded HackerRank, and since then, the company has raised more than $24 million, has hired approximately 100 Americans, and has helped more than 1,000 companies find and hire software developers.

"Immigrants are helping move the American economy forward," Ravisankar says. "They're contributing to American innovation and intellectual property. They're not taking away from it."

Not all in the tech industry oppose the rule. Gab, an Austin startup known for being a popular social network hangout for alt-right white supremacist groups, said it supports Trump's immigration order.

"As an American corporation, we believe that the national security of American citizens trumps the virtue signaling displayed by Silicon Valley and the dishonest reporting being perpetuated by the media," CEO Andrew Torba says. "We stand with President Trump and are happy to see the national security interests of American citizens at the forefront of his administration's policies."

Published on: Mar 7, 2017