I laid down the gauntlet in my last post, suggesting to Rep. Khanna that if he truly wants to get to the bottom of the H-1B issue, he ought to meet with me. As I said, “for better or worse, I am the one who ‘knows where the bodies are buried’ on H-1B…The ball is in your court.”
Needless to say, I didn’t think it would be likely that he would respond. On the contrary, his flurry of tweets on the issue (and on me) abruptly came to a screeching halt. Maybe Rep. Khanna is more receptive to the entreaties of his staff to calm down than Pres. Trump is to his. 🙂 Tweeting may be harmful to one’s political health.
Well, then, what if anything came out of the VOA debate? I am confident that the debate and aftermath at the very least made Khanna aware of the fact that Silicon Valley employer exploitation of H-1B de facto indentured servitude is rampant. During the debate he had loudly demanded that I supply him with names of related people at Google, but when I offered to do so, both during the debate and on several occasions since, he backpedaled. Nevertheless, I gave him several other sources that would show him the problem, and really, ANYONE in Silicon Valley who has ever been sponsored for a green card by an employer could tell him about this. Still, whether or not he followed up to verify, I think we can safely assume that he got the point.
And it is a BIG point, as it shows Mr. Khanna that those deep pockets Valley CEOs who put him in Congress (third try) are the diametric opposites of innocent idealists like him. They are cold, calculating businesspeople who are often ethically challenged. If he wants to stay in office and engage in his do-good societal activities, he will have to make a Faustian bargain with them.
One of the more influential figures among critics of H-1B, “John,” completely agreed with the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad, Foreign Students Genius view for many years. My own efforts to educate him fell on deaf ears — until Poachgate, in which it was revealed that Google, Apple and so on had engaged in illegal collusion regarding their engineers. That turned John around, as he suddenly realized that Silicon Valley CEOs were not the glorious, innocent nerds that he had pictured. Maybe Khanna will have a mini-epiphany in this regard too, though it won’t change his course of action.
And note, the illegal collusion in Poachgate was aimed at keeping employees immobile, as above, no coincidence. As I mentioned during the debate, Google stated in a meeting with several of us researchers that they prefer hiring foreign students for their immobility. They had tried keeping the Americans from jumping ship by dragging out the granting of stock options, but it hadn’t worked; for the foreigners, green card sponsorship achieves the goal. The problem leading to Poachgate was the same; the CEOs agreed not to hire each other’s workers.
The debate with Khanna has also taught us something about the San Jose Mercury News. Here it is my turn as the naive innocent. I’ve been dealing with them throughout the nearly 25 years I’ve been writing about H-1B, and am always happy to give them my time when they call for an interview. Though their editorial position (and even their TV commercials) has been unwaveringly pro-industry, their news coverage of the issue has been impartial and of high quality. But I was quite disappointed in this case.
Alan Tonelson, in his blog post today, remains skeptical regarding the Mercury editor Neil Chase’s claim that a full video of the VOA debate was not recorded. Naif that I am, I appreciate the editor’s taking the time to post his denial on my blog, and I am inclined to believe he is sincere. But I am much less trusting of the Mercury reporter who was running the videocamera at the debate, as she was openly hostile to me, very unprofessional and raising the possibility that even the editor may not know the full truth as to whether a full video was indeed produced.
More importantly, though of course I as the subject of Khanna’s tweets am biased, I agree with Alan’s point that this was an obvious news item. Just think of it: A politician participates in a public panel discussion with a person of opposing views, with the politician occasionally raising his voice, and then subsequently goes into a tweeting spree, trashing the other person over the course of several days, all over a topic the newspaper considers of central importance. Sure seems like a juicy news item to me. But Mr. Chase declined to act on Alan’s suggestion.