Some of the most powerful leaders in the tech industry are meeting with President-elect Donald Trump in New York today. Among those meeting with Trump are Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt from Google as well as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook.
Although the agenda of the meeting has not been made available to the public, it is likely that one of the main talking points is going to be how Trump plans to handle immigration once he takes office in January 2017. The tech sector is heavily reliant on hiring talent from abroad, a practice made possible through the H-1B visa program for specialized workers. Trump has been critical of the H-1B program during his campaign, saying it is often used as “a cheap labor program” rather than a way to hire talent unavailable in the United States. As our chart illustrates, the tech industry is the main beneficiary of the program, with 65 percent of workers who received a H-1B visa in 2014 working in computer-related occupations.
Following Trump’s election in November, the Internet Association, an industry group representing Google, Facebook and Amazon, among others, had addressed the president-elect in an open letter, laying out the internet industry’s stance on key policy areas. Among other things, the letter called for immigration reform that would “allow more high-skilled graduates and workers to stay in the United States and contribute to our economy” – a notion that runs counter to what Trump promised during his campaign. Today’s meeting will be a first test of how far apart both sides really are on key issues and will likely set the tone for future correspondence between Silicon Valley and the White House.