What Does a Trump Presidency Mean For Tech?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

As much of the United States and world sit stunned at Donald Trump’s historic and unprecedented Presidential victory, a few questions have gone unanswered. Most notably, we’re not sure where he stands on many issues related to the technology industry, which could be problematic for tech workers.

Via his website, which has been retrofitted for his campaign for the Oval Office, we learn the only tech-related thing he’s actually taken a stand on is Cybersecurity. Here is Trump’s entire plan:

  • “Order an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.
  • “The Cyber Review Team will provide specific recommendations for safeguarding different entities with the best defense technologies tailored to the likely threats, and will followed up regularly at various Federal agencies and departments.
  • “The Cyber Review Team will establish detailed protocols and mandatory cyber awareness training for all government employees while remaining current on evolving methods of cyber-attack.
  • “Instruct the U.S. Department of Justice to create Joint Task Forces throughout the U.S. to coordinate Federal, State, and local law enforcement responses to cyber threats.
  • “Order the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide recommendations for enhancing U.S. Cyber Command, with a focus on both offense and defense in the cyber domain.
  • “Develop the offensive cyber capabilities we need to deter attacks by both state and non-state actors and, if necessary, to respond appropriately.”

These are the words of an outsider campaign looking in; the text doesn’t delve beyond those bullet-points into the nuances of protecting IT infrastructure against threats.

Image Credit: CommitStrip

Donald Trump Wants To Kill The H-1B Visa

In contrast to Trump’s limited scope on technology, Hillary Clinton’s views were outlined in a ‘brief’ (that’s polite; the page is exhaustive), wherein she touched on everything from Computer Science education in schools to STEM investments and Cybersecurity, down through creating a pipeline of tech talent and continued education for existing tech workers. She also wanted to make government services and tech more accessible to all, and was a proponent of an information free-flow across borders where applicable.

When it came to a forward-facing view on tech, Clinton’s views were undeniably more grounded and resolute. She wanted to lean on education and open-source to springboard us all to a new level, which makes perfect sense.

But with regard to the huddled masses worried about losing their technology jobs to foreign workers, Trump has definite opinions. Though he hasn’t yet outlined any specific strategy, he’s on-record as saying he’d like to eliminate the H-1B Visa program. From a Republican debate in March:

I know the H-1B very well. We shouldn’t have it, it’s very, very bad for workers. It’s unfair to our workers and we should end it.

Trump also admitted to using the H1-B Via program for his own businesses.

Clinton favored tempering ongoing education with the use of H-1B. From an interview with Vox in June:

… one of the biggest complaints I hear around the country is how callous and insensitive American corporations have become to American workers who have skills that are ones that should make them employable. The many stories of people training their replacements from some foreign country are heartbreaking, and it is obviously a cost-cutting measure to be able to pay people less than you would pay an American worker.

I think it’s also a very unfair and sad commentary that we don’t want to invest in training American workers because that’s just “time-consuming.” And it’s a cost — so even if they could do what we’re wanting them to do, it’s just easier to get someone who will be largely compliant because they want to stay in the country. And that’s just wrong.

Hillary Clinton

What Does It All Mean?

On the surface, it’s pretty clear that Clinton understood the temperature of tech in today’s world, both inside the government and the private sector.

Trump is a lesser-known entity. To date, he’s done little more than announce broad ideas, although his shoot-from-the-hip messaging has clearly resonated with much of the United States. Speaking to Recode, Kik CEO Ted Livingston said: “The biggest people in technology, media and finance were all trying to figure out how to stop Donald trump and he still won.”

And that’s indicative of a problem; not because he has unfavorable positions on any tech issue, but because we don’t know what his actual policies are. He’s never actually laid out a plan on issues related to tech (or much of anything else); we can’t quite hold him to anything.

But that could also be positive. Perhaps Trump quietly knows that he doesn’t understand the issues all that well, and will keep an open mind moving forward. He could surround himself with people much more knowledgeable of the issues, and defer to their good judgement.

At least that’s what we’re hoping. Saying you’d like to end H-1B without any sort of contingency for how businesses will fill in their gaps is problematic, even if it makes for great headlines. Regardless of your political leanings, the Trump presidency represents absolute caprice, and we just can’t say how that will affect the tech sector.


30 Responses to “What Does a Trump Presidency Mean For Tech?”

  1. Finally!!! There’s a slim chance of stopping the outsourcing fiasco!!

    This is being put in the limelight and there may be a slim chance of stopping this H1b visa problem. US businesses have given away our tech jobs for so long, under the auspices and lies that we haven’t enough talent or don’t want to do the tough stuff is just bull crap!!

    Hopefully, the Trump administration will stop not only the H1b visa as it relates to IT, but also the L1 intracompany transfer visa as it relates to IT as well!!!

    So very many Americans have been hurt by it!!

    Under Clinton, it would have continued.

  2. Mark Griifon

    Yesss….finally something will be done to get Programmers, like myself back to work. I hope trump enacts laws that put American workers first and eliminating h1b and L1 visas is a good start.

  3. Elena Danielyan

    H1 has to go. For good. H1 is bad not only for American workers. It’s horrific for American businesses. It erodes industry, floods workplaces with semi-competent professionals bringing foreign practices of stunningly low standards and quality, degrading IT standards and IT market. I am not even touching on devastating impact of H1 on our rates and salaries.

  4. The naivete of Trump and his supporters is breathtaking.

    1) There is a real skills gap right now, which means that there aren’t enough Americans to fill the all the open positions.

    2) It costs a company money to sponsor a foreign worker. In most cases, they would probably save money by hiring an American.

    3) If they can stonewall Obama, then they can easily block any of Trumps half-baked ideas.

    4) If you are an unemployed programmer in this job market, then the problem is most like you.

  5. Joe Brown

    1. There is no skills gap, just companies looking for cheap labor.

    2. The money spent obtaining foreign labor is offset by tax breaks and salary savings.

    3. Trump is not Obama.

    4. If you are for H1b visas than you’re part of the problem.

  6. What Joe Brown said makes absolutely no sense. He should study basic economics, specifically the Law of Supply & Demand.

    I would the rather the US drain foreign countries of their technical expertise, then have them work for other superpowers.

    No, Trump is not Obama. Trump is a shortsighted selfish maniac with a Reptilian cortex in lieu of a Triune brain.

    If you are complaining about pay in this economy, then you may be part of the problem. I am very well compensated.

  7. James Brown

    I doubt Dja is even an American. And that’s the problem. Americans who lost there jobs to outsourcing , retrained in website development and still can’t find jobs are the ones who voted for trump. We are no longer going to be ignored Dja.

  8. Oh it’s very definitely a major problem!! Many have complained for years and it has fallen on deaf ears over and over again with no response!

    The business and immigration law lobbies in Washington DC are rich and powerful. I really do hope Trump does bring it to an absolute halt once and for all!!!

  9. I am a 3rd generation American, I am over 50 years old, and it took me 3 years to learn web development in my free time. Luckily, I started studying before I became unemployed. I now work with a diverse set of individuals, and learn something new from them each and every day.

    Web development is challenging, but it wouldn’t pay much otherwise, because there would genuinely be a glut of capable individuals at the ready to do it for far less. The role is demanding period, regardless of where you originated or how you got here, and that’s precisely why there is a shortage of talent.

    Just search this site and you will find proof of demand. Thus, the advantage you hope to attain is neither necessary nor righteous. I know the work is hard, believe me; but you shouldn’t want for work to be easier, you should want to better yourself instead.

    America once had citizens, now it’s brimming Americans who feel entitled and complain about being ignored. If this were the onset of the industrial age, rather than the digital era, where would we be with such an attitude. Here’s a bit of classic American wisdom..

    Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

    Sorry about any misfortune, I really mean it. -dja

  10. Joe Brown

    Dja, that’s the problem with people like you and the main reason why Trump won. You and your kind don’t listen, you and your kind think your the only people who work hard to get ahead. Programming/web development is not that difficult to learn. I’ve learned how to code in Java, CSS, HTML and javascript in 18 months. The problem is finding a job as an entry level developer in field in whichn the rungs of entry level or job transition er in my have been cut by H1b and L1 visa holders.

    Your sympathy does not pay my bills and I don’t need it. Hopeful Trump will to roll back H1b and L1 visa laws entry level developers can compete with Americans instead of cheap foreign labor.

  11. I don’t think the entire h1-b visa is wrong, but the IT companies are using that to pay lower salaries to every body, I think the H1b needs a filter exemple: a company can hire using h1b but the lower salary you can pay for the foreign is 250k/year. This way the companies still would hire the genius out there, but they wouldn’t use h1b to lower the salaries here.

  12. There is a lawsuit currently being prosecuted in which Disney is alleged to have brought in H1-B workers, had Americans working for them train the H1-B workers, and then fired the Americans, retaining the H1-B workers at a lower wage. So let’s stop the crocodile tears for the poor employers.


    The use of the H1-B, a government program, attempts to address a market failure, but it is not monitored. A better way would be for the Government to set up a self-funding (right now it’s supported by taxes, with refundable fees) program where a company would have to post the job and all pertinent details to a government site. The government would retain all resumes sent to the site and the employer would have to review them and interview if a match is found. If, after three months, a match is not found, then the company would have to pay at least a $10K fee (more if necessary for the self-funding) to get into the ‘lottery’. This fee would be non-refundable (currently it’s $1K and refundable.) When a hire is made, someone hired by the government would compare the resumes and interviews to ensure no American was turned down who met the requirements. The company would pay a further $10K/yr (or more to keep it self-funding) for a yearly desk-audit to ensure that the special skill is still needed; if it’s not, the H1-B would be cancelled and the company would be fined $250,000 for noncompliance. The company would also be barred from H1-B for three years, and lose any H1-Bs it had.

    Something like this would ensure companies really, really need a skill not found in the US, instead of really, really needing a skill that they’re not willing to pay Americans for.

    Incidentally, President-elect Trump acknowledged that the H1-B may be needed, but that it’s so badly used that it needs to be shut down and start over. He’s a businessman – who else but a businessman would know how it’s being abused? Previous presidents were either lawyers or military, ripe for abuse by unscrupulous persons.

  13. JB, Trump’s thin veil of empathy isn’t going to pay your bills either. If he reduces the presence of foreigners, he does so for personal reasons. I have to assume he’s here primarily to eradicate the legacy of a president he finds abhorrent. I doubt your cash flow problem is a concern.

    It’s sad to see so many support this agenda. I can easily make as many arguments for allowing foreigners in as I can for denying them. But personal opinions should’t be scaled to formulate national policy. Especially when those opinions are self-serving and vindictive.

    Just doing what’s comes easily and reacting emotionally to every problem might pass for leadership if you manage a private business empire. But I would prefer public officials who consider the big picture, look at historical precedent, and cite evidence, before offering solutions.

    A fundamental tenet of free-market capitalism, albeit brutal at times, is the necessity of competition. It’s modeled after the evolutionary forces that wrought this world into existence and keep it going. Capitalism would not flourish in a bubble, and neither would we.

    For capitalism to succeed, participants must embrace adversity and forgo exclusivity. What pains you would also pain your suppliers and presumably serve your best interests. The real danger is prejudice and favoritism, as it results in stagnation and atrophy.

    To be perfectly clear – when you have less competition, you do less than stellar work.

    On the other hand, if the pool of available talent grows, then companies might sense an opportunity to grow their ambitions. This could result in new projects that might not otherwise even be attempted. So limiting talent would actually throttle corporate ambitions.

    America didn’t become the envy of the world by catering to a few misguided individuals. She embraced the trials and travails of capitalism and greeted disruption with tenacity. America is now in the throws, because the ignorance of ages just reigned supreme in this election.

  14. My company over the last year plus has had round after round of layoffs; all from the “well compensated” middle ranks of both technical professional and managerial tracks. Of those laid off just about every one of them had at least 2 of the following attributes:
    over 50.

    Even the best of the best were not immune!

    During the layoffs the company never quit hiring… in an offshore model subsidiary in India or H1b’s to do the same work on the same teams at a MUCH lower pay grade.

    They also practice heavily in the “consulting” model that Marco Rubio illuminated where consulting firms sponsor H1b’s and bring them over paying them much less. Then the domestic companies replace domestic positions by contracting out the positions to these “consulting” firms who then profit greatly from the spread between their hourly rate and the lower salary paid to the H1b’s. This lets the domestic company avoid the sponsorship fees and benefits.

    When the company lays off top talent and then immediately complains that they can’t find and hire enough good (presumably CHEAP) talent, then the system is broken, trust is gone and nobody is safe.

  15. James Brown

    Dja, the capitalism system you describe does not work. And in a system that is no longer working needs to be changed. When 98% of productivity goes to the wealthy then that sounds like a recipe for revolution. By not addressing the pain of millions like me the election of someone like Trump was enavitable. Dja people are tired of listening to people like you, 50,000 ft view of the American economy. Maybe your job will done by h1b/l1 type and you can join us in low wage and hell.

  16. Have you heard that while unemployment is down, tech unemployment has increased. I was laid off last year and now all that I find is contract work for half of what I used to make with no benefits! H1B killed the tech industry but I’m afraid now all the big India based consulting companies like Tata will simply off shore the work now that networking allows anyone work on anything from anywhere.

    Honestly, we all know that unemployment is down as high payed workers have had to take on multiple lower paying jobs to keep their heads above water.

    Trump won with the help of the rust belt and automotive sector states that are dying. Clinton lost Pennsylvania with a stupid statement of killing off coal, cursing the lives of tens of thousands that were already suffering.

    What college bound student would go into Computer Science when their future will max out at $50/hr with no benefits.

  17. The H-1B program has a place – but it’s been HORRIBLY abused by industry. A better approach would be to limit the quota to 20,000 workers and auction off the visas with a starting bid of $50,000 for a two-year visa. If industry REALLY needs a particular “expert”, $25K year is not too much to pay. And if demand drives the prices higher – that’s okay too.
    The visas should be NON-RENEWABLE. Someone who has been here two years should be required to leave the country for a period of two years.
    I think this would encourage two behaviors – industry would invest more in training Americans -and- they would outsource more (which is actually preferable to importing the outsourcing). Of course, if you outsource, you lose control – and as some companies are finding out, that’s not a good thing.

  18. I can lose my job to a more qualified individual, one who is willing to take less pay, one who is younger and more adept at learning, or all the above. Many positions are on borrowed time, simply because they’re a candidate for automation.

    These are facts of life for everyone in the private sector. These perils extend to companies that employ people, as well. If employers don’t provide optimal solutions at a reasonable price, then some other entity will eventually come along and steal their market share.

    An economy cannot thrive, without attrition. In your case, this translates into fear of extinction, which stalks us all to some extent. The best defense is to keep moving and improving. The world doesn’t hold much pity for those who ride out sigmoid curves.

    Sorry if someone grabbed your attention and sold you on the notion that complaining could change how the world works. Trump can’t prevent evolution any more than he could freeze time. My advice is to set frustrations aside and do something positive with your energy.

    Change can anticipated with enthusiasm and optimism, or it can be forced upon those in bitter denial. One of these paths will leave you with dignity, the other with disillusion. But here’s a fact you can take to the bank and cash – Trump couldn’t care in the least.

  19. This H1B problem goes way beyond what’s mentioned here. I know personally of a foreign worker who started a consulting company and brought low paid workers over here from India. He became a multi-millionaire very quickly by paying kickbacks to the foreign workers in management positions who hired his workers. This is a case of foreign workers screwing both the American workers they discriminated against and the American managers that they worked for. This is occurring in Freddie Mac even as we speak.

  20. Joe Brown

    Dja your a fool. H1bs visa are not taking high level jobs, they are taking entry positions which make close to impossible for a career transition-er with little or no paid experience to get a job in the industry they spend year preparing themselves for. Obviously you and your kind are so use to your own BS you can’t even see the other persons side and try to address their issues. I actually fill sorry for you because nobody is listening to your type crap anymore, the American people are waking up. America for Americans, and if you can’t employ American(s) then you business needs to be slap with a 50% tariff for the privilege for being in our markets.

  21. One of the things overlooked is the simple fact that it is NOT the job of the President to craft job training programs and financial incentives for those seeking work. Nor is it important for the chief executive to have a great deal of personal knowledge of the mundane goings on of your industry… but to have experts in the mix who will provide guidance. It is a given that Clinton did not author a single word of her “brief”. She is a technical criminal, or she is a technical moron. In either case she is certainly not anyone to trust if you are looking for help in the US jobs market.

    The market has been reacting favorably to the Trump effect. Let it work.

  22. John Doe's

    moderator: here’s what you can share with others in your industry [but youll never allow on this board lol]: we don’t give a [expletive] if these corporations lose their shirts! [expletive] THEM! We’ll survive.

  23. dja, you sound more like a pseudo-intellectual sociologist than a web developer. I think you’re a professional troll, sent here to cause dissent in an otherwise unanimous view that H1Bs are bad for American IT workers and should be eliminated. No real American IT workers are in favor of the H1B program, and none defend it like you do. But you can give it a rest, because no one is listening to lying trolls like you anymore – people have woken up.

  24. David D Williams


    You must be a shill for the H-1B program. There is no other possible reason for your statements supporting that and other heinous immigration programs. The H-1B program, and others like it, simply create wage arbitrage opportunities for American companies at the expense of the American worker. What I don’t understand is how do H-1B foreign workers afford to move and live here at much lower wages than American workers? The only way that is possible is if they are being abused by the Tata’s and Infosys’s of the world and live 12 to a bedroom and are fed one meal per day. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and new workers to the area will find rents STARTING at over $2500/month if they can find anything at all. If you live here you have to make at least $30/hour to qualify with the landlord to rent the minimum apartment. Offshoring IT work to India where people can live on $5/day, although hated, can be easily understood. But paying transportation and setup expenses for a foreign H-1B worker that still has the same cost of living as an American worker doesn’t leave much wage arbitrage to profit from. But they still do it!!! Last night the television news reported that the University of California San Francisco hospital is laying off IT workers and replacing them with H-1B workers!!! And just like Disney, they are making the present workers train their H-1B replacements!! The H-1B program and any immigration program that displaces American workers must be stopped at all costs. The capitalists have now gone too far.

  25. Byron Claghorn

    Finally we have a competent business man and CEO that knows how to staff, organize, delegate with the “sand” to overcome the political quagmire and landslide support from our citizens (ignore the unpatriotic and poor paid demonstrators being bussed in by George Soros and the DNC factions).
    Donald Trump’s reaction to these paid protestors: “I have not been inaugurated yet & I am Already Creating Jobs!!!”.
    The good news for the Tech industry and other American industries is that Trump will begin creating new opportunities and jobs immediately after taking office. Once he stimulates and incentivizes business by eliminating the Obama regulation and tax stranglehold on our economy — Jobs and the tech jobs to support real and substantial growth will follow and your skills will greatly increase in demand and value.

    The Tech-Visa/Permit situation is primarily motivated by greed to get the necessary skills at a lower cost and overhead than American workers just like the Off-shore shift in jobs. Trump is going to address this just like manufacturing.

    However, there is an even greater reason to change to an “Employ American Tech and other Skilled Workers” — You only learn a small percentage of your knowledge and skills in school and training programs — Typically, you acquire your most valuable knowledge and skills on-the-job and a diverse range of skills and areas. When foreign workers are hired, they benefit from this advanced training and experience — But the Company and the USA loses all this substantial gain and the resources passing it on to other countries and other companies while the USA pool of Tech Workers has been cheated and lose this valuable gain. I believe that Donald Trump recognizes this drain on our Tech and other skilled resources and his policies will stem the tide of these losses for the betterment of Techs and all Americans growing our Economy and your prosperity.

  26. As a teenager living in Pittsburgh, I made the mistake of telling a friend within earshot of his father that I thought Hondas were pretty cool. I had forgotten his dad was an unemployed steel worker, until he went on a tirade and tried to beat me down whilst his family held him back.

    Needless to say, frustration and severed relationships didn’t do much to bring his job back. Some might agree it was Honda’s fault, while others blame him for failing to transplant his career. To be honest, I had never even connected the dots he had ranted about, before that day.

    I personally feel government intervention is needed to ensure things of strategic military value, such as steel, maintain a healthy manufacturing presence here in the US. But no amount of intervention would have sustained the mills in Pittsburgh, because USS consolidated to Gary.

    I made the leap from IT to Web Development because of dwindling demand. Smaller companies were outsourcing IT and larger companies were replacing ten employees with just one. Those developments were due to greater automation, improved hardware reliability, and greater virtualization. Once applications began moving to the cloud, the industry imploded more.

    What happened to IT is not unlike what happened to the auto industry once robotics came along. They simply didn’t need the same number of employees, which remains the single greatest expense for most organizations, by far. Humans have always been expendable and always will be, but if it makes you feel better go ahead and call it greed.

    As software development becomes more and more automated, I expect this new hard-won career of mine will disappear as well. These upheavals rarely happen overnight. It takes years and the warning signs should be plenty near the front, to anyone who isn’t in denial.

    In these modern times, technology is actually an accelerant of sorts. Employees of the steel and auto industries were able to thrive for generations, but modern industries are on a much shorter cycle. Younger generations should expect upheaval as a norm, from here on out.

    By the time they start feeding stacks of paper containing your resume into a shredder, you best have a plan. Those who leave sooner and enter a growing field are usually far better off than those who stay and fight it out. They call that final phase “the bitter end” for a reason.

    Whatever you do, don’t allow yourself to be fooled by empty campaign promises from an inexperienced outsider, let alone those of a seasoned veteran. Once these jobs are gone, they are usually gone forever. They had their shot, and capitalism “selected” them for extinction.

    Once again, sorry for your predicament. If this makes you angry, strap yourself in and Google the 5 Stages of Grief. It’s time for this pseudo-intellectual to go and code something cool now.

  27. James Brown


    Your rant proves your a grade-A Moran. Are you upset because most commenters here don’t agree with your babble and pseudo-intellectual. But such is the fate of people who have no real solutions. I’m some employer pays you as a developer.

  28. We should have some foreign employee Visa… to have good business with other countries.
    the deal is, every month the US employer(ex. Disney) and contractor(ex.Indian offshore entity) each should pay $1000 towards the cross training of American worker ( may be 45+ yrs of age).

  29. Anyone who thinks the move to H-1B visas is driven by anything other than saving money is living in an alternate reality. The Fortune 500 company that I consult for eliminated many of their in-house IT staff a year ago. Experienced and knowledgeable employees walked out the door, and high-rate contractors were canned, only to be replaced 1 year later by a large number of cheap rate, offshore workers who are poor communicators and either cannot do the job, or take 6-8 times as long to do the same job and certainly don’t do it as well. Those of us still here, be they experienced employees or long-tenured contractors, are left to shoulder MORE work because the offshore folks aren’t doing it. IT’s customers (the internal business) are complaining that problems take much longer to resolve, they don’t understand the emails/answers they’re receiving, or they don’t even get an answer at all. Needless to say, the business is NOT HAPPY!

    So yes, IT has saved money on a per person level, but quality and customer service have dropped precipitously. The old expression of “you get what you pay for” is 100% true here.

    There are plenty of skilled American IT workers, especially those in the mid-range who make decent money and have solid skills, who cannot find jobs because they’ve been superseded by cheap offshore workers and American companies are content with lower quality just to save money. I know many of them. And I hear that one of the companies I used to work for is considering outsourcing their entire IT department, so it continues to be a concern. This has to stop NOW.