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AP

The tech industry came out swinging against Trump's latest push to restrict immigration, denouncing a White House-backed Senate bill that would cut legal immigration — i.e. green cards — in half and move to a merit-based system.

How it works: The bill, known as the RAISE Act, doesn't actually touch temporary employer-sponsored (H-1B) visas that the tech industry cares about most. Instead it would cut back on family visas and and cap permanent residency for refugees in favor of skilled workers that meet certain criteria. Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, the sponsors of the legislation, argue this approach will reduce the number of low-skilled immigrants that compete with Americans for low-wage jobs.

Tech vs Trump, again: Favoring skilled workers while leaving H-1B visas alone might seem like a decent deal for the tech industry. But instead, tech sees it as exacerbating the skills shortage while injecting more bureaucratic dysfunction.

"While it's not the end of the world for tech, there's really nothing in the bill for the industry to be enthusiastic about," a Republican adviser to the tech industry told us. "Even though it raises the bar in terms of skills, it doesn't do anything to help temporary visa workers get green cards — and that just perpetuates the current problem for tech firms."

Why tech isn't on board, according to industry sources and statements:

  • Tech has long had an alliance with groups supporting family immgration to avoid the zero-sum game tug-of-war between family-based and high-skilled immigrants. Supporting this bill would throw its allies under the bus.
  • A points-based system would let the government dictate skills parameters and hiring practices. Tech companies want to retain the flexibility they have today to recruit their own workers. Information Technology Industry Council CEO Dean Garfield said it "injects more bureaucratic dysfunction."
  • Without increasing green card availability, temporary H-1B workers will still have no path to citizenship, perpetuating the skills shortage and uncertainty for visa holders.
  • The best talent, including entrepreneurs who might be the CEOs of the next iconic company, may be lost to overseas competitors.
  • TechNet CEO Linda Moore said Congress should instead focus on curbing H-1B abuses and increase numbers of green cards and visas for high-skilled workers.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves to be removed after fires

A firefighter looks up at a giant sequoia tree after fire burned through the Sequoia National Forest near California Hot Springs, California, on Sept. 23. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

"Upwards of" 10,000 trees near giant sequoia groves have been "weakened by drought, disease, age, and/or fire" and must be removed in the wake of California's wildfires, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks announced.

Why it matters: The damage to these trees, considered "national treasures," and work to remove them means a nearby key highway must remain closed to visitors as they have "the potential to strike people, cars, other structures, or create barriers to emergency response services," per a statement from the national parks.

Obama stumps for McAuliffe, urges Virginians not "to go back to the chaos"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama framed a Nov. 2 gubernatorial race as a bellwether for the Democratic Party and the country, telling a crowd at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe on Saturday that "I believe you, right here in Virginia, are going to show the rest of the country and the world that we're not going to indulge in our worst instincts."

Why it matters: With just over a week to go before Election Day in the Commonwealth, McAuliffe is bringing out the big guns. The 44th president appeared on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University to urge supporters to get to the polls.