Silicon Valley oligarchs come to the immigration debate with considerable advantages. Aside from the obvious giant bags of money, there’s the perception (often correct) that they're wizards responsible for breathtaking innovation and economic growth. So when they say they need ever-greater numbers of indentured code-jockeys from abroad because there aren't not enough Americans available, they're taken seriously (even though the real motivation is simply cheap labor). This gullibility is all the more prevalent in Congress, many of whose members don’t even know how to turn their computers on (let alone send e-mail).
But the Silicon Valley oligarchs also have a disadvantage: the inability to hide their contempt for American workers. Joe Green, for instance, at the time head of Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg's anti-borders lobbying group Fwd.us, said last year that foreign workers were simply better than Americans. More recently, at a National Journal discussion paid for by Fwd.us, one of Zuckerberg's "major contributors," Danish immigrant businessman Lars Dalgaard, was asked about the recent wholesale replacement of American workers by H-1bs at Southern California Edison and gave this response:
You know, I'm going to be rather crude about that. Nobody's going to hold you up and carry you around ... If you're not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job ... well then, you don’t deserve the job.
His co-panelist, a foreign student from Belgium, agreed.
No one "deserves" his job, of course. And it's true that, as Moe Greene noted, if you've got a business to run you've got to "kick asses sometimes to make it run right." But there was no claim that the hundreds of American workers replaced en masse by H-1Bs (whom they had to train at the risk of losing their severance) at SCE or Disney or elsewhere were not doing their jobs, or weren't qualified or were being "carried". Rather, they were replaced with less-skilled — but much cheaper — foreign workers, using a program that’s supposed to be only for the "best and brightest." Dalgaard was blaming the victims of a crony-capitalist immigration scheme for their own plight.
Nor is this simply a matter of economics. The culture of Silicon Valley is anchored on the left, as we've seen starkly over the past year on gay marriage. Given that a visceral aversion to America and ordinary Americans is one of the modern Left's most basic impulses, it's no surprise that this aversion is broadly shared by people in the tech industry.
Such preference for foreigners over Americans isn't confined to skilled immigrants, as Jeb Bush's Amerophobia attests. But American software engineers replaced by foreigners are more likely to have the verbal and other skills required to get their complaints heard than do, say, American construction workers in the same situation. And that may be why the congressional gullibility which has served Big Tech so well for so long is ebbing. Southern California Edison's purge of American workers, for instance, continues to resonate, with a bipartisan group of senators demanding an inquiry.
Corporate cronyism has been getting the attention it deserves in the financial sector, the "green" industry, and the Ex-Im Bank. This is finally beginning to happen to the tech industry too, as the insulation and even deference it enjoyed in its pursuit of cronyist immigration policies begins to wane. It’s about time.