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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in Bellevue, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Here are the real reasons Silicon Valley is freaking about Trump's travel ban


Here are the real reasons Silicon Valley is freaking about Trump's travel ban

WATCH | Most international tech talent comes to the U.S. from countries other than those specified in President Trump's travel ban. So why is Silicon Valley so upset?

No shortage of foreign-born talent -- yet

Are recruiters in the U.S. tech world concerned about the Trump administration's newly ordered seven-country immigration ban? Yes, but mostly because of principle, rather than any immediate threat to their talent pool.

More than numbers

Of the countries listed in the new “extreme vetting” executive order, Iran accounted for the most H-1B visas in 2013, with 810. (H-1B visas are the type given to high-skilled workers and typically gobbled up by the tech industry.) Syria had 280 that year, Libya had 53 and Iraq had 46, according to numbers from a Howard University study.

In contrast, Indian citizens grabbed more than 105,000 H-1B visas in 2013.

It's not the numbers at this point from those specific countries. It's more the principle that you'd have these kinds of restrictions for the reasons they've identified.
Sean Randolph, director of the Bay Area Council

Will China see a ban?

The Trump administration says the travel ban is about national security. But the tech world is voicing concern over what the next order could be.

Trump has said his economic policies will be tough on China, raising fears that a country that produces more high-skilled tech workers than any of the current travel ban countries could be subjected to a similar directive down the road.

Let's remember that 53 percent of the engineers that fuel the Silicon Valley economy weren't blessed to be born in the United States; they're immigrants.
Carl Guardino, Silicon Valley Leadership Group


If talented tech engineers from nations unaffected by Trump's order begin to perceive the U.S. as hostile toward immigration, they might not want to come work here, either.

"At some point, people could say, 'Hey, you know, it's just a hostile environment,'" Sean Randolph, senior director at the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, told Circa. "'I'm going to invest my future and resources some place else.' That's the last thing we want to see."

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