Our Cybersecurity Depends on Somali H-1Bs?

By Dan Cadman, February 15, 2017

I was browsing the opinion pages of the Daily Caller when I came upon this article: "Congress May Become Judge of Trump's Immigration Order", by Megan Barth, who is described as the founder of ReaganBaby.com, whatever that might be.

Reading it, you might readily conclude that she is a flack for Big Tech — Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple — since the gist of the opinion piece is that Congress should consider Trump's order in the course of its business (and, by implication, overturn it legislatively) because it's incommodious to those companies' reliance on the H-1B temporary foreign worker program.

Ms. Barth makes some preposterous statements in her discourse. Here's a sampling:

This issue may end up in Congress with a debate likely to happen in the Senate when the Senate takes up the Gorsuch nomination [for the vacant Supreme Court seat] in a few months. When Neil Gorsuch comes before the Senate Judiciary Committee he will be asked if this executive order is consistent with the power of the president to protect national security or if it conflicts with a constitutional mandate that there be no establishment of religion implementing a religious test towards refugees and visa holders. Gorsuch will also be asked if this order is overbroad and bars individuals from entering the United States who pose no threat and were not the target of the executive order.

Microsoft is not the only company caught up in the cross fire. Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all involved in the court fight to protect the holders of H-1B visas who pose no security risk. These visa holders have already been through some extreme vetting and they have been the subject of criminal check, the existence of employment, a place to live, and documentation.

These foreigners need to stay within our borders because Americans can't simply take over the important cybersecurity jobs that these H-1B visa holders currently fill. Currently, over 209,000 cyber security jobs in the U.S. are vacant, and postings are up 74 percent from five years ago. While American schools are certainly starting to ramp up their computer science education instruction, the truth is that we don't have enough domestic experts to meet demand just yet. Americans' security is important, why is why Microsoft's (sic) believes that it's (sic) exception to the executive order should be granted as soon as possible.

I, of course, have a few reactions to her words.

First as to Gorsuch, if any member of Congress is so unwise as to ask him to speak to pending litigation that might end up before him on the bench (and someone almost certainly will, likely a Democrat hoping to lead him into a blind alley) he should decline to address the matter except in the most general terms, by observing that if he is so honored as to be confirmed, he would not like to prejudice his views of the issue until he is fully versed with the matter before the court.

Second, as to Microsoft and other IT firms so highly dependent on the use of cheap foreign labor: Are the positions they claim to need really so heavily dominated by the nationals of the seven countries whose entry was suspended by the order: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen? Four of them (Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen) are failed states with no educational institutions left to speak of, and huge swaths of Iraq have been in the hands of ISIS and virtually ungovernable. It hardly seems likely that computer and software engineering experts have poured out of those countries in the thousands in recent years. In fact, it beggars belief.

Then there is the claim that they have "already been through some extreme vetting". In this country, as well as throughout Europe, Australia, and indeed the globe, the vast majority of cases involving terrorism attacks, attempted attacks, and material support of terrorists have been undertaken by migrants or their progeny living in the midst of the countries they assault. I myself don't consider a criminal history check, confirmation of employment, and "a place to live" as extreme vetting. As to documents: I doubt that Barth has enough experience with the proliferation of fraudulent documentation that permeates modern society that is readily accessible to criminals and terrorists, to speak with confidence on that score.

Finally, there is the eyebrow-lifting statement that "These foreigners need to stay within our borders because Americans can't simply take over the important cybersecurity jobs that these H-1B visa holders currently fill." I laugh out loud at the notion. So all they're doing is cybersecurity work? Not pounding out all those irritating applets that pop up when you least expect it, trying to sell you this, that, or the next thing?

God help us if our national cybersecurity needs are only being served by cheap, temporary foreign workers laboring over software code in Microsoft, Apple, or others' highfalutin modern version of sweatshops. No wonder one of my credit cards, apparently using inferior, penetrable software, has been hacked by "third party vendors" three times in the last few months.

Tell me, Ms. Barth, what color is the sky on your world?