I’m getting e-mail messages from some absolutely furious supporters of Donald Trump — who are now FORMER supporters of Trump. They’re hopping mad, because they think he reversed himself on the H-1B issue in tonight’s GOP primary debate.
But their anger is badly misplaced. They should have been angry LAST AUGUST 18, which is the real occasion on which “tonight’s” reversal occurred. If you don’t like what he said tonight, then where were you when he said the same things seven months ago? If you weren’t reading this blog then, you’re excused, but otherwise you’ve failed once again to grasp the central importance of the Intels-vs.-Infosyses issue, which as many of you know, is my favorite bogeyman.
My August 18 post was titled, “¡Ay, Caramba! It Took Only a Few Days for Trump to Reverse His Stance.” In my August 16 post, “Sanders and Trump on Immigration,” I had praised them both, but especially complimented Trump, for instance pointing out
Trump says in his platform what no other politician, including Sanders, is willing to say: Immigration is great in sensible quantities, but in its present form, both legal and illegal, it’s hammering the lower and middle classes. Take for example the high black and Latino unemployment rates. The Democrats say the solution is education and the Republicans say the path is lower taxes and regulation, and though both may have points, Trump states the obvious — bringing in large numbers of low-skilled immigrants is going to harm the most vulnerable people in our society, our own low-skilled (including earlier immigrants).
(Note: A reader later pointed out that Sanders had in fact made similar statements.)
However, in what turned out two days later to have been a very prescient remark, I wrote in the August 16 post (emphasis added),
Trump’s proposals for handling illegal immigration are vintage Trump, some sensible, some off-the-wall, but on H-1B, the man gets an A+…Most important to me is that, at least as stated, these provisions would go a long way to stem the visa abuse by not only the “Infosyses” (rent–a-programmer firms) but also the Intels, who are just as culpable.
Well, sure enough, two days later, Trump reversed himself, basically saying what I had feared, that the Intels — read, the employers who hire foreign students at U.S. universities, rather than directly importing from India — deserve the H-1B visas after all. He tweeted,
When foreigners attend our great colleges & want to stay in the U.S., they should not be thrown out of our country…I want talented people to come into this country—to work hard and to become citizens. Silicon Valley needs engineers, etc.
That is basically what he said tonight:
”I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly-skilled people in this country. If we can’t do it, we will get them in. And we do need in Silicon Valley, we absolutely have to have. So we do need highly-skilled,” Trump said. “One of the biggest problems we have people will go to the best colleges, they’ll go to Harvard, they’ll go to Stanford, to Wharton, as soon as they are finished they get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately. They are not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.”
Asked if that represented a change from the position expressed on his website, which states that “[t]oo many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement” to hire American workers first, Trump said it was. “I’m changing it, and I’m softening the position, because we have to have talented people in this country,” Trump said.
That “softening,” as I said, actually occurred last August. His campaign just never bothered to update the website. Really, there is nothing new.
So, Trump drank the “¡Intels si, Infosyses no!” Kool-aid last August, not tonight. As I said back then, “Someone got to him.”
Now here is the key point: I can’t really blame Trump for this, because he has tons of fellow Kool-aid imbibers among critics of H-1B, who in spite of many repetitive posts here (“Oh, there he goes again”) that the Intels/Infosyses dichotomy is not only false but destructive, it just hasn’t sunk in.
Just yesterday, for example, I made yet another post railing against that dichotomy, explaining for the umpteenth time that if legislation (e.g. the current Durbin/Grassley bill) were to be enacted based on that dichotomy, the result will be BUSINESS AS USUAL for the Intels AND the Disneys. And yet, once again, I got pushback, the usual line “But the Infosyses ARE different.” Yes, of course they’re different, but that doesn’t change the fact that bills based on “¡Intels si, Infosyses no!” will NOT result in U.S. citizens and permanent residents being hired instead of foreign workers.
So, if you hate to give up that Kool-aid, you shouldn’t be disappointed with Trump’s remarks tonight. But if you want more jobs for Americans, you’d better hope that someone can explain to President Trump that what he thinks is true about the Intels is quite distorted.