Tech Firms Take Lead in Lobbying on Immigration
By ERIC LIPTON and SOMINI SENGUPTA
WASHINGTON — The television advertisement that hit the airwaves in Florida last month featured the Republican Party’s rising star, Senator Marco Rubio, boasting about his get-tough plan for border security.
But most who watched the commercial, sponsored by a new group that calls itself Americans for a Conservative Direction, may be surprised to learn who bankrolled it: senior executives from Silicon Valley, like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, who run companies where the top employees donate mostly to Democrats.
The advertising blitz reflects the sophisticated lobbying campaign being waged by technology companies and their executives.
You know, having one red-blue sock puppet website for Republicans and one almost identical blue-red sock puppet website for Democrats isn't really that sophisticated. I've defended Zuckerberg in the past, but he just exudes weaseliness. Sophisticated he ain't.
They have managed to secure much of what they want in the landmark immigration bill now pending in Congress, provisions that would allow them to fill thousands of vacant jobs with foreign engineers. At the same time, they have openly encouraged lawmakers to make it harder for consulting companies in India and elsewhere to provide foreign workers temporarily to this country.
Those deals were worked out through what Senate negotiators acknowledged was extraordinary access by American technology companies to staff members who drafted the bill. The companies often learned about detailed provisions even before all the members of the so-called Gang of Eight senators who worked out the package were informed. ...
Now, along with other industry heavyweights, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the technology companies are trying to make sure the law gets passed — which explains the political-style television advertising campaign, sponsored by a group that has revealed no details about how much money it gets from its individual supporters.
What are the laws regarding obvious quid pro quos like these TV ads for Rubio and Lindsey Graham?
The industry also hopes to get more from the deal by working to remove some regulatory restrictions in the proposal, including on hiring foreign workers and firing Americans.
That should be FWD.us's motto: "Firing Americans since 2013."
... Rob Jesmer, a former top Republican Senate strategist who helps run the new Zuckerberg-backed nonprofit group that sponsored the Rubio ad, insisted that his organization’s push is based on the personal convictions of the executives who donated to the cause and who believe immigration laws need to be changed. Those convictions just happen to line up with what their corporations are lobbying for as well, he said.
“It will give a lot of people who are educated in this country who are already here a chance to remain in the United States,” Mr. Jesmer said, “and encourage entrepreneurs from all over the world to come to the United States and create jobs.”
No. It's a myth that these billionaire entrepreneurs are magnanimously bringing poor Asians to America to start companies to compete with them.
The reality is that billionaires just want code-fodder. The number of H-1B visa workers who will prove competition for the Zuckerbergs is negligible. You can see the evidence for that in a different NYT article this weekend:
From "Silicon Valley's Start-Up Machine" by Nathaniel Rich in the NYT Magazine about essayist Paul Graham's Y Combinator boot camp for entrepreneurs:
Several years ago, Paul Graham — whom everybody calls P.G. — began to film the interviews he and his partners held with prospective Y.C. inductees. When reviewing the footage, he focused on the interviews with start-ups that ultimately failed. Like any savvy marketing executive, he wanted to isolate patterns that portended ill, which he called “negative predictors.” He was already aware of a few — investors tended to be biased against older founders, for instance. “The cutoff in investors’ heads is 32,” Graham says. “After 32, they start to be a little skeptical.” And Graham knew that he had his own biases. “I can be tricked by anyone who looks like Mark Zuckerberg. There was a guy once who we funded who was terrible. I said: ‘How could he be bad? He looks like Zuckerberg!’ ”
... But after ranking every Y.C. company by its valuation, Graham discovered a more significant correlation. “You have to go far down the list to find a C.E.O. with a strong foreign accent,” Graham told me. “Alarmingly far down — like 100th place.” I asked him to clarify. “You can sound like you’re from Russia,” he said, in the voice of an evil Soviet henchman. “It’s just fine, as long as everyone can understand you.”
This was bad news for Strikingly’s David Chen, who moved in 2005 from Guangzhou to the United States to attend high school at Houghton Academy, in upstate New York. He spoke English fluently but struggled to pronounce words like “build,” “mobile” and, most ominously, “strikingly.” Yet Chen had clearly established himself as the fledgling company’s impresario and spokesman. ...
One week before Demo Day, Graham told the Strikingly founders that Chen’s accent was too strong. The quiet, reserved Bao — who spoke less frequently than either of his partners despite being the group’s only native English speaker — would have to deliver the pitch instead. Bao denied that he was anxious, but as he tried to memorize the pitch, he grew even quieter than usual. “I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m comfortable with public speaking,” he admitted.