Matt Day, who covers Microsoft and technology for the Seattle Times, spoke about the impact of Trump’s travel ban on the area’s tech industry, which has come to rely heavily on immigrant talent.
President Trump’s executive order, which barred entry into the U.S. for citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations, created chaos at airports, sparked opposition from business leaders and Washington state elected officials, and raised the prospect that changes to guest- worker programs might be similarly chaotic.
While the order was halted by a federal judge in Seattle, and a subsequent appeal by the Trump administration was denied, leaked drafts of executive orders suggested the Trump administration may be planning a broad review of the U.S. immigration system.
That is said to include H-1B and other guest-worker visas, work permits for their spouses, and an Obama administration program that shields from deportation some immigrants who were brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
Changes to those policies would have wide-ranging impacts in the Seattle area, where about one in five residents was born in another country.
The anchors of the region’s booming high-tech economy, Microsoft and Amazon.com, rely on thousands of employees living here under visas for highly skilled guest workers.
Area colleges and universities are similarly fueled by talented students and faculty from abroad.
In the wake of the executive order signed last month, many who work in fields touched by immigration are worried that the Trump administration may take a disruptive approach to reform that dents the appeal of Washington, and the U.S. as a whole, as a destination for the best and the brightest.
Be sure to read Matt Day and Rachel Lerman’s examination of the impact of the executive order on the local tech industry and the H1-B visa program.