Trump goes after Silicon Valley over immigration hiring

Steven Loeb · August 17, 2015 · Short URL:

He accused tech companies of hiring workers from overseas and then underpaying them

It's hard to believe it, but even after everything Donald Trump is still (STILL) leading in the polls on the Republican side. Even after he said this. And this. And did THIS! I used to cover politics and media, and it's times like this that I wish I still did.

Even more astounding is that Trump seems to be the only one willing to say what he would actually do. That resulted in his campaign releasing a fairly comprehensive immigration reform plan over the weekend. And while there's plenty in there to dislike, whether it be impractical or, more importantly,potentially unconstitutional, there is one section that we, as a tech blog, had to take notice of.

In the plan, Trump called on companies to hire American STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates, rather than immigrants who come to the United States on H-1B visas.

"More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program's lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. 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," Trump wrote.

He singled out technology companies in particular for taking advantage of the practice, which he said allowed them to pay these employees lower wages than they would to an American worker. 

"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. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities," he said. (Rubio is, of course, one of Trump's main rivals for the Republican nomination so tying him to this practice is good politics)

H-1B visas allow U.S. employers to hire foreign workers on a temporary basis in what are known as "specialty occupations." These are jobs that require highly specialized knowledge, such as computer science. These workers are supposed to be paid the same as all other works, but many have accused companies that hire them of essentially exploiting them by paying them less.

The reference Trump made to Zuckerberg and Rubio is in regards to, the political action committee that Zuckerberg formed in 2013 to tackle immigration reform. The PAC has run ads in favor of numerous Senators who it perceives as pro-immigration, including, yes, Rubio and another of Trump's current rivals, South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham. has also lobbied Congress to get them raise the cap on the number of H-1B visas granted each year. Currently 65,000 H-1B visas can be granted each year, with an additional 20,000 visas available for people who have obtained a master's degree or higher. 

In 2013, the Democrat-led Senate passed a bill to raise the number to 110,000, but the Republican-led House of Representatives killed the bill. 

While its safe to say that Trump is less worried about the potentially exploitation of immigrant workers, who he says are not being paid the same wage as their American counterparts, than about those jobs not going to an American worker, such an accusation could not come at a worse time.

This follows a scatching report in the New York Times, put out over the weekend, in which the paper accused Amazon, and its CEO Jeff Bezos, of acting harshly and cruelly toward its workers.

In one instance, it was reported that "workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover." Ex-employees reported seeing their colleagues openly weep from being worked too hard. Bezos has responded, essentially denying the worst aspects of the story, but the damage has been done.

Then there are accusations of tech companies entering into anti-competition agreements, plus numerous claims of sexual harassment that have plagued companies over the last few years. 

Silicon Valley has taken a lot of heat, including from yours truly, over it's hiring practices, and rightfully so, with many calling for companies to hire both more women and minorities. Now it has been called out specifically by a major candidate for President of the United States over how it pays its workers. 

With all of this bad publicity, especially that New York Times article, perhaps things will actually start to change.

VatorNews reached out to Facebook but the company had no comment on Trump's attack on Zuckerberg.

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