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President-elect Donald Trump pumps his fist after giving his acceptance speech. Pic: AP

The Trump Reality: What Silicon Valley will have to deal with in the next four years

DONALD Trump won the U.S. presidential elections last week and has begun the transition process to the White House. As the country, along with the rest of the world, comes to grips with this new reality, one sector in particular has plenty to be worried about with a Trump presidency.

Earlier this year, Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel made a highly enthusiastic speech at the Republican National Convention in favor of president-elect Donald Trump that drew criticism from tech circles. As cringeworthy as it was to some, it paid off since he was just invited to join the ranks of Trump’s inner circle.

As reported by CNET, Thiel will be Trumps’ faithful ear on anything tech or innovation-related. This is of course, a hardly coveted role – almost all of Silicon Valley has rallied against the idea of a Trump presidency, but Thiel was one of the few tech investors to buck the trend and actually support the Donald’s campaign with US$1.25 million.

While Thiel networks his way into the White House, the rest of Silicon Valley is reeling from the election results. After all, with Trump’s anti-immigration sentiment, it’ll be far more challenging for tech companies to bring in top foreign engineering talent. And H-1Bs, a visa that allows companies to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty roles, will be that much more scarce.

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Trump recently shared his opinion regarding the H-1B program via an official statement:

“The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

To this point, the Verge reported that tech companies will likely have to jump through more hoops in order to prove that there isn’t an American that can do the job better than a foreigner. The tech industry taps regularly into the high-skilled foreign labor pool in order to fill top roles, and this is seen in some of the Valley’s most talented executives: Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft’s chief exec Satya Nadella are both immigrants for example.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to the New York Times, American tech companies experienced a boom during Obama’s eight years – but Trump’s win will likely hinder, not help the tech industry’s success. Not only did he promise “to initiate antitrust actions against Amazon [and] repeatedly vowed to force Apple to make its products in the United States,” but he also “called for a boycott of the company when it challenged the government’s order to unlock a terrorist’s iPhone”.

It’s still early days but it’s safe to say that the tech industry’s fears surrounding a Trump presidency are not unfounded, as the new president-elect isn’t likely to deploy policies that are Silicon Valley-friendly.