In a post here more than a year ago, I lauded Donald Trump’s posted platform policy on the H-1B work visa and related issues. But two days later, Trump clarified his position, ruining the effect of his earlier policy completely, so I posted a followup, ending with the statement, “Trump’s a chump.” What did I object to so strongly? Trump now said, in essence, that he wanted to clamp down on the “Infosyses” — the firms that hire H-1Bs and rent them out to other companies — but thought the “Intels” — the firms that hire H-1Bs directly — use the program responsibly. As I have explained many times, this Intels Good, Infosyses Bad view is inaccurate, and will lead to disastrous results, notably a Staple a Green Card to Their Diplomas policy, giving automatic green cards to all STEM foreign students earning degrees in the U.S.
Contrary to what you read in the press (and even to what Trump himself has sometimes said), Trump has been quite consistent on that issue ever since. In particular, he has endorsed Staple, implicitly and explicitly, many times.
So, in advance of Trump’s meeting yesterday with Silicon Valley CEOs, I was expecting him to endorse Staple again. But I certainly wasn’t expecting this account from Recode:
At the top of the gathering (I may not have the order of all the topics exactly right), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella brought up perhaps the most thorny issue: Immigration and how the government can help tech with things like H-1B visas to keep and bring in more talent. Nadella pointed out that much of the company’s spending on research and development was in the U.S., even if 50 percent of the sales were elsewhere, so that immigration would benefit those here.
Surprisingly to the group, Trump apparently responded favorably, “Let’s fix that,” he said, without a specific promise, and then asked, “What can I do to make it better?”
This is rather bizarre wording, almost sounding like Trump had never even heard of the H-1B visa, and even more industry-friendly than proposing Staple.
If the above account is accurate, it is troubling in ways that go beyond H-1B. Does Trump get confused that easily? Frankly, I in fact doubt that the account is entirely accurate, but it certainly has me scratching my head.