Executives and top scientists at tech giants Google, Microsoft and Facebook endorsed Joe Biden’s White House bid on Monday, complaining that President Trump’s immigration policies have prevented them from hiring overseas talent.
In a public letter, the group of 24 computer scientists — all winners of the Turing Award, known as the Nobel Peace Prize of computer programming — bemoaned Trump’s cracking-down on certain visas used by tech companies in a bid to force them to hire Americans first amid the pandemic.
Among the group are John Hennessy, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet; Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar; Vinton Cerf, a vice president and chief internet evangelist for Google, and Yann LeCun, the vice president and chief AI scientist at Facebook.
“Information technology is thoroughly globalized. Academic computer science departments attract talented students, many of whom immigrate and become American inventors and captains of industry,” the group wrote.
“We celebrate open source projects, the lifeblood of our field, as exemplars of international collaboration,” they added.
The scientists “enthusiastically” endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris, citing their ability to “listen to experts before setting public policy” which they said was “essential when science and technology may help with many problems facing our nation today.”
In an accompanying interview with The New York Times, David Patterson, a distinguished Google engineer, said the president’s decision to limit immigration would lead to a brain drain.
“The most brilliant people in the world want to come here and be grad students, but now they are being discouraged from coming here, and many are going elsewhere,” Patterson said.
The industry has increasingly waded into the November election fight after Trump in June halted several work-based immigration programs including H1-B visas, which allow American employers to hire immigrants with specialized skills.
The move, which will last until the end of the year, is designed to vault Americans to the top of the job line during a pandemic which has seen more than 60 million people file unemployment claims.
Big Tech CEOs including Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai slammed the decision as “short-sighted” and said their industry had added immense growth to the US economy.
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