Days after several technology leaders slammed President Trump’s ban on immigration of refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, a report surfaced Monday suggesting the tech industry might be targeted in Trump’s next executive order.
Related: Internal memo: Expedia’s CEO, a former Iranian refugee, slams Trump’s ‘reactionary’ visa crackdown
Bloomberg News reportedly obtained a draft of the order, which looks to overhaul the current work-visa program, which tech companies rely on to hire employees. Under the order, companies would have to attempt to hire American workers first, before recruiting abroad. If they did recruit foreign workers, priority would be given to the highest paid, in an effort to open entry-level positions to Americans. The order would force major companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Google to change their recruiting practices.
Last week, Microsoft addressed potential changes to visa programs in a filing with security regulators, saying, “changes to U.S. immigration policies that restrain the flow of technical and professional talent may inhibit our ability to adequately staff our research and development efforts.”
In a statement to the New York Times, Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company believes “in a strong and balanced high-skilled immigration system and in broader immigration opportunities for talented and law-abiding young people.”
Trump has long flip-flopped on his view about the H-1B visa program, which offers temporary visas to non-immigrant workers. In his immigration proposal released during the campaign, he argued for increasing wages under the program and requiring companies to seek U.S. workers first. This order would do just that.
“Our country’s immigration policies should be designed and implemented to serve, first and foremost, the U.S. national interest,” the draft proposal says, according to Bloomberg. “Visa programs for foreign workers … should be administered in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers – our forgotten working people – and the jobs they hold.”
The executive order would also cap the number of people who annually enter the U.S. under existing visa programs to 85,000 and require companies that use the programs to publish statistics within a month of the government’s fiscal year.
In November, S. “Soma” Somasegar, a former Microsoft executive currently at Madrona Venture Group, said he hoped Trump’s administration wouldn’t implement policies that would impact entrepreneurialism. Somasegar immigrated from India in 1987.
“It is really important for the U.S. to continue being a destination choice (including having the right set of checks and balances for H-1B visas) for the best and brightest people from around the world and continue doing the needful to support the innovation ecosystem in the U.S,” Somasegar said.
It is unclear when or if the proposed executive order will go into effect.