Silicon Valley is used to being held up by presidential hopefuls as a shining example of all that America can achieve.
The tech CEOs are outsiders, far from Washington, who are creating the future by thinking differently, or so the narrative goes.
But Donald Trump, in his first big policy paper, appears to be breaking from that script. Big time. He uses Silicon Valley as a cudgel to attack Sen. Marco Rubio, who is also seeking the Republican nomination.
In Trump’s view, tech is a big business that cozies up to elected officials, just like any other industry.
The occasion is Trump’s take on immigration reform, which mostly deals with the border with Mexico and undocumented people living in the U.S.
But when Trump turns his attention to the H-1B visa program, he questions Silicon Valley’s plaintive wail that there isn’t enough talent in the U.S. for their needs.
Trump swipes at Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican who has worked on immigration reform legislation, calling Rubio “the personal senator” of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg:
Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.
Zuckerberg did set up FWD.us, a public interest organization that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform, not just the H-1B issue. Zuckerberg has also given directly to Rubio, including $5,200 in 2013, according to OpenSecrets.org.
Trump ties the tech industry’s pursuit of a boost in H-1B visas to Silicon Valley’s lack of diversity:
Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.
Trump argues that firms should “hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS (immigration services).”
And he ends on this note:
Before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages.
I’m going to guess that Trump may not get a lot of tech industry love. But I don’t think he’s looking for that.
Above: Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)