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5 tech battles facing Trump

Patrick Thibodeau | Feb. 2, 2017
The tech industry could face challenges from Trump on immigration reform, R&D support, climate change, China relations and auto emissions

5. Trump to fight tech on H-1B

In 1998, President Bill Clinton's administration wasn't completely buying the tech industry's insistence that the U.S. suffered from a shortage of highly skilled workers.

The Clinton administration, which was considering backing legislation to raise the H-1B cap, discussed whether to challenge the tech industry on its claims. In a White House memo, a Clinton staff member wrote it should seek legislation that "calls industry's bluff re: their shortage of really highly skilled and desirable workers."

The Clinton administration pitched a rule requiring companies to first try to hire a U.S. worker if the position paid less than $75,000 (With inflation that salary would be about $110,000 today).

But Clinton dropped the idea, giving the tech industry much of what it wanted and did nothing to impede the visa's use in displacing U.S. workers.

Trump is expected to do what Clinton did not, and appears ready to challenge the tech industry.

Trump is leaning in the direction of supporting an H-1B visa that would favor foreign workers who have earned advanced degrees from a U.S. school, have a high-paying job offer and the needed skills. If these students are indeed among the best and brightest, the Trump administration will argue higher wages shouldn't be a problem for the tech industry.


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