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Tech Titans' Push for 'Immigration Reform' Connected to their Lavish Lifestyle


The neoconservative publication, The Weekly Standard, and its editors have a history of supporting immigration reform with amnesty and massive increases in foreign workers. But in the ongoing debate, they've changed their analysis, and it may have helped slow House Speaker John Boehner's most recent push. In fact, in this week's issue, Jay Cost examines the impact that mass immigration has on wages for working Americans.

But much of their recent analysis has strayed from the details and focused more on the strategy and timing for immigration reform. Still, the cover story for their December 2, 2013 issue, "Silicon Chasm", exposed the true motivation behind Silicon Valley's massive push for reform.

Charlotte Allen wrote the piece after touring Silicon Valley with David Berkey, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institute. It's more a narrative than a commentary or news piece, but it exemplifies the plush lifestyle of Silicon Valley's tycoons and their immigrant servant class. Allen described the distinct differences between the two sections of Silicon Valley - the massive mansions hidden behind the tree-lined streets in quaint towns like Atherton and the low-class communities like Menlo Park. Regarding Menlo Park, she wrote:

"You can laud this underbelly barrio as vibrant immigrant culture or you can decry it as an instant-slum product of untrammeled illegal border-crossing, but it represents an important fact on the ground: These are the people who earn their livings tending to the needs of the high-tech "creative class" that has made Silicon Valley famous....

"They tend the meticulously clipped lawns, flower beds, hedges, and trees of Atherton. They clean the houses and the swimming pools, they deliver the catering, they watch the children, and they repair the roofs, the plumbing, the balconies, and the wine cellars of the very affluent and the very busy. You might say that across-the-tracks Menlo Park, along with down-market Latino neighborhoods just like it up and down the peninsula--East Palo Alto, parts of Redwood City, the southern end of San Jose--functions as a kind of oversize servants' wing."

But as Allen wrote, maintaining the servant class was not the only reason for the tech tycoons banding together last year to form the pro-amnesty group, FWD.us. While their businesses compete to develop the newest gadgets or to earn customer loyalty for their online services, they are making an aggressive push on Congress to increase the number of foreign workers who help create those gadgets and keep their busy websites running.

"FWD.us, unlike other pro-immigration groups, isn't much interested in amnesty for illegal immigrants or easier border-crossing for lettuce-pickers. Its chief interest is in expanding the H-1B work visa program for "highly skilled" workers that's mostly used by tech employers to hire temporary guest-workers from foreign countries, usually from East and South Asia."

The tech tycoons use sophistry to advance their cause - the United States doesn't produce enough tech workers to fill their open jobs. This is contrary to research from the Center for Immigration Studies that found that 10 million Americans with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are not working in those fields. Further, the New York Timesreported last July that an analysis of three million resumes from job seekers in the U.S. found that there are plenty of candidates available for open tech positions.

UC-Davis Prof. Norm Matloff and Rochester Institute of Technology Prof. Ron Hira have noted on countless occasions that the call for more foreign tech workers isn't about work shortages; it's about keeping wages down. Allen hit this point.

"Most damning of all is that, despite persistent claims of tech-worker shortages, programmer salaries overall have inched only slightly higher from what they were 20 years ago: from $60,000 a year to about $75,000 a year in 2012 dollars, according to the Economic Policy Institute."

Just this week, a subsidiary of FWD.us, Americans for a Conservative Direction, launched a $750,000 television ad campaign. The ads attempt to sell the Immigration Principles revealed by House leaders at last week's GOP retreat. Interestingly, the ad doesn't even mention their call for more foreign workers; it instead focuses on the enforcement and amnesty provisions in the principles. But both FWD.us and Americans for a Conservative Direction list both amnesty and foreign worker increases as part of their objectives.

So, while Pres. Obama continues to talk about income inequality and the shrinking middle class, he and Speaker Boehner, among others, are helping the tech tycoons protect their cheap workforce and servant class.

"[T]he oligarchs of Silicon Valley seem intent on keeping the social pyramid stacked in exactly the same layers in which it's stacked right now. After decades of political quietism during which Silicon Valley entrepreneurs expressed libertarian sentiments but mostly voted Democratic and funded Democratic candidates who shared their elite-class social and political views, Silicon Valley has finally mobilized--for immigration expansion."

Read Charlotte Allen's full article on The Weekly Standard's website.

CHRIS CHMIELENSKI is the Director of Content & Activism for NumbersUSA

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