This is driven by bigotry and politics, with Covid-19 being used as a pretext, but it is the right thing to do.
The visas in question, H-1B, L-1A, etc. are intended to bring in people who with skills that are unavailable in the United States.
In reality, it's primarily about getting cheap foreign workers into the country, with foreign body shops like Infosys and Tata being the largest users of the program.
The tech companies are screaming that the sky is falling, but they will be able to get what they need, they will just need to pay a few bucks more an hour:
President Trump issued a proclamation Monday barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year, moves the White House said will protect U.S. workers reeling from job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic.In fact, these problems have always posed a threat to American workers and American workers' wages.
The ban expands earlier restrictions, adding work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers, health-care professionals supporting the pandemic response and food-service employees, along with some other temporary workers.
The restrictions will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to the administration’s estimates. The measures will apply only to applicants seeking to come to the United States, not workers who already are on U.S. soil.
“American workers compete against foreign nationals for jobs in every sector of our economy, including against millions of aliens who enter the United States to perform temporary work,” the proclamation states. “Under ordinary circumstances, properly administered temporary worker programs can provide benefits to the economy. But under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.”
The real goal of these programs has been to supply cheap tech labor since before I graduated from college. (I literally had someone in an unemployment office in 1982 tell me not to bother, because H-1B job postings were not a real job opening.)
I expect this to be reversed shortly after the election, but this moratorium will provide an opportunity to show that there is no real STEM shortage, and this is a good thing.