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Why Silcon Valley Loves Obama's Immigration Order

Hint: It has a lot to do with our imaginary tech shortgage.
Why Silcon Valley Loves Obama's Immigration Order
Image from: Ferran Rodenas

I seriously wonder how many people believe this. I wonder if Obama believes it! Because I know so many people in the tech world, and not one of them has ever said there was a tech shortage. So clearly the effect (if not the intent, and I'm being generous here) is merely to suppress tech wages in this country. Yay, Race To The Bottom!

How is Silicon Valley supposed to stay exceptional when its belief system keeps getting debunked? First empirical evidence proved there's no such thing as a meritocracy. Then they had to add a disclaimer that "change the world" may not mean for the better.

Now the shortage of tech workers—a phenomenon used to justify both immigration policies and insane perks—"doesn't really exist."

The Tech Worker Shortage Doesn't Really ExistTech companies are pleading for more visas to address a problem scholars say they made upRead more businessweek.​com

Businessweek spoke to a number of academics who said that when tech CEOs complain about a labor shortage, what they meant to say was a shortage of cheap labor:

"There's no evidence of any way, shape, or form that there's a shortage in the conventional sense," says Hal Salzman, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University. "They may not be able to find them at the price they want. But I'm not sure that qualifies as a shortage, any more than my not being able to find a half-priced TV."

The desire for more affordable labor explains the tech industry's "muted enthusiasm" for President Obama's new immigration order. The president's plan "will let U.S. companies temporarily hire more foreign college graduates." However, it won't provide more H1-B visas. And according to Businessweek, those H1-B visas for highly-skilled workers are the tech sector's top priority:

Tech Sector Has Muted Enthusiasm for Obama Immigration PlanPresident Barack Obama’s immigration order will let U.S. companies temporarily hire more foreign…Read more bloomberg.​com

"It seems pretty clear that the industry just wants lower-cost labor," Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, wrote in an e-mail. A 2011review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the H-1B visa program, which is what industry groups are lobbying to expand, had "fragmented and restricted" oversight that weakened its ostensible labor standards. "Many in the tech industry are using it for cheaper, indentured labor," says Rochester Institute of Technology public policy associate professor Ron Hira, an EPI research associate and co-author of the book Outsourcing America.


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A Facebook spokesperson maintained that the tech talent gap was real, but the data-loving behemoth couldn't show Businessweek any evidence:

"We look forward to hearing more specifics about the President's plan and how it will impact the skills gap that threatens the competitiveness of the tech sector."

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