Trump, Tech CEOs Talk Immigration, Tech Reform

When U.S. President Donald Trump hosted tech’s top CEOs at the White House this week, the talk inevitably turned to artificial intelligence, education, immigration, and other hot-button topics.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella were among those in attendance. The meeting’s original agenda focused on modernizing the federal government’s use of technology, although other topics rapidly crept into the back-and-forth.

“Today, many of our agencies rely on painfully outdated technology, and yet, we have the greatest people in technology that the world has ever seen right here with us in this room,” Trump told those assembled. Among the things he cited as needing improvement: online government services for citizens, and cybersecurity.

The federal government is infamous for moving slowly when it comes to technology, often taking years—if not decades—to update its infrastructure. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the head of the newly formed White House Office of American Innovation, suggested during the meeting that the government could replace some 50-year-old systems that still use floppy disks. There’s also the matter of consolidating the 6,100 federal datacenters nationwide.

Behind the scenes at the White House, talk veered from modernizing the federal IT stack to immigration. According to Axios, Tim Cook asked Trump in a closed-door meeting to put “more heart” into the work of reforming immigration, and Trump responded by mentioning “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Immigration also reportedly came up in the context of H-1B reform. The Trump administration has already issued an executive order asking the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and State to evaluate current H-1B policy in order to eliminate fraud and abuse. According to Recode, tech executives gathered at the White House voiced support for legislation that would award H-1Bs to coders and engineers “in specialized fields,” instead of outsourcing firms.

The government made available some 85,000 H-1B visas in 2016, which in turn drew 618,266 applications. Opponents of the program accuse tech companies of not doing enough to source domestic talent before turning to H-1Bs; there’s also the longtime criticism that the current visa lottery system is an inefficient way of dealing with high demand. And outsourcing firms have been accused of flooding the system with applicants whose positions aren’t highly specialized.

Whatever the federal government ultimately decides to do with its tech infrastructure, it could result in huge financial benefits for the companies that attended Trump’s meeting. For example, federal datacenter consolidation would result in lucrative contracts. In a similar vein, if U.S. agencies begin relying more heavily on machine learning and artificial intelligence, they’ll surely need help from firms such as Google and Microsoft. But immigration could remain a strong point of contention between Trump and the tech firms for some time to come.

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17 Responses to “Trump, Tech CEOs Talk Immigration, Tech Reform”

June 22, 2017 at 9:14 am, John Faux said:

Trump should end all H-1B renewals effective immediately. Bear in mind that H-1Bs are supposed to be TEMPORARY. If I work as a consultant at a company for a year, I can deduct the TEMPORARY costs of maintaining two homes. Go over a year, and the IRS calls it a “permanent” move. But H-1B visas are good for THREE years and are routinely renewed for THREE MORE YEARS. Then many apply for citizenship or permanent resident status. The “temporary” visa just became back-door immigration.

So make the H-1B what it was supposed to be: A TEMPORARY way to fill a job for which NO AMERICAN IS AVAILABLE. Scale it down to one year and no renewals.

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June 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm, Ty said:

The H1B is not back door visa. It is an immigrant visa. The TN nafta visa is a temporary non immigrant visa. Given a choice between a permanent residency visa in Canada VS H1B, I chose to take my skills to Canada. I was educated and trained in the 🇺🇸 but now contributing to 🍁. Maybe the system is broken…

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June 22, 2017 at 9:30 am, Vivian Samuel said:

I agree. Stop the H1B program completely so that American Citizens can get jobs. There is no dearth of talent in the US.

Jobs should be given to American Citizens and then green card holders. There is no need for H1B visas even though they were supposed to be temporary.

Vivian Samuel

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June 22, 2017 at 7:48 pm, Evgeni Eugene Teplitski said:

As USA citizen you can get any job, all company’s preferred USA citizen. If you can’t get the job, it’s only your fault. Don’t blame all the world.

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June 22, 2017 at 10:39 am, Jason said:

Much of outsourcing is just companies being lazy. I have been developing applications for over 10 years and have looked at many job descriptions over that time. A company can simply ask for a set of technologies that they know nobody in America will have. They can then justify a cheaper rate of outsourcing or relying on H1-B visas.

Can a retailer (Walmart, Kohl’s) bring in cheaper labor from other countries because they don’t have a specific skill set stocking something (like canned Chu Chu peas from Mylasia)?

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June 22, 2017 at 11:19 am, Trumpisadope said:

Some good ideas in this thread but let’s face it, this president is all talk, he lacks the focus and competence to translate any of this into policy.

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June 22, 2017 at 11:59 am, jay said:

Anyone whom enters a STEM career is a fool. It’s only a temporary job. Look at the guys that make triple six figures. Most are not that bright, they are just in industries that pay(banking) or positions where decisions are made. And most are in their 40s The stupid engineer keeps his head down and does his work. Look at how many engineers the great Mr. Steve Jobs jacked out of their stocks! And that’s the high tech end where the bucks are! So enjoy your career until your technology is out, and the new kid knows the new stuff OR you are simply too expensive and can be replaced by offshore. I started developing in 1990. Americans that are too expensive are not up the the task or proficient in the technology, but the cheaper offshore labor is. Here’s how that works. I can interview three U.S. developers that are experts in “whatever”, I fire kill shot interview questions. Then I can interview three offshore experts and they interviewed fairly to pass. Bingo, the Americans are dope, the offshore guys are not… and thy just happen to be 1/5 the cost… what a coincidence!!! What great luck for these companies. Let me quote the great(little) Jack Welch from back in 2001 “I can get better engineers cheaper overseas” yep, thanks Jack, you miserable little turd! But hey maybe you can get some dockers and a polo shirt gain 25lbs and become a middle manager surfing the internet for a fortune 500 for 100K a year.

Get a clue… the labor is needed for growth… and policy is the shadow that corporations cast over the masses. Corporate greed wins every time. See the reality; make the adjustments now, or you could quit possibly suffer financially in the future.

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June 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm, Rocky said:

well said Jay, the sad thing is that no one in Trumps administration sees these comments

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June 22, 2017 at 12:51 pm, Rocky said:

Indians have taken over our entire IT industry, not they have the right to hire other Indians and turn down all Americans, what a shame. Stupid Obama started this and now all Americans are suffering, including all our children coming out of college where they tell you to get a great education so you can earn more money, NOT. we will just hire Indians for 1/4 the cost.

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June 22, 2017 at 2:45 pm, jay said:

Not an Obama issue, it’s all around political pandering to corp greed. I worked in the Citibank development center at the turn of the century 2001. I used to look around and say “Where’s all the pimply faced little American kids”. They were not welcome, and that was 17 years ago. I was the only American on my Dev team( and at 39 I was the only one over 30)… and, it was on the only new development (non maintenance) project(because it was a government system interface considered sensitive) developed stateside. All else was off shored to a subsidiary in Mumbai India. I came to see the beginning of the down fall. The last days of Making good bucks in this field was Y2K and the dot com craze. And I had already been a developer for 10 years. Yes if you are top you can make bucks. But seriously, if you are 40 or 50 and a Doctor, Lawyer, Banker… your experience counts for something. Think any hiring manager wants to her me blather about how I’m worth money because I actually lived through the evolution of decoupling and know what it is. Your career will come in 5 to 7 year tranches of experience. You get to be the new guy all the time and an expert for only a short time. Why teach old dog a new trick is what you will be living in the future, and it get tiresome! Start running and don’t stop.

People tell young people that if they want to be happy… do the thing you love. However, corporate America will make you do so much in such a short time and pervert the thing you once loved that you will no longer recognize it… and you will no long love that what you once did!

I tell young people, go for the money, at least if you hate your job(and eventually you will) you can stay at a top resort on vacation and drive a top of the line Mercedes or Tesla. Money is a salve believe me. If you get to the 250k – 300k level, you will feel proud. Else you will justify yourself as the smart one… really? Slick manager make a living on using you and taking a big bonus for managing your hard work.

It used to be, the developer made more than the managers because they had the expertise. Not any more…. you are now a commodity. Commodities are all the same, so get the cheapest one. How does it feel to be a commodity?

One last note, way back on that Citibank project, here’s what the visa holding Indian developers would say… “Global Economy”… “Global Economy”. That’s their thinking! “Global Economy”. Used to really piss me off!

If you blame Obama… Bush… or any other politician… then you are or will be a victim. Not a good way to be! These clowns do not work for us… they pander to whomever they need in order keep their “OWN” gig! “PERIOD!”

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June 22, 2017 at 1:39 pm, J.R. said:

Anyone that thinks Trump is going to limit H1B’s is crazy. The GOP has tried to expand this program for the last 8 years. Rubio wanted to increase the limit to 350k a year. Trump will do what the GOP wants and the GOP wants to expand not restrict.

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June 22, 2017 at 5:11 pm, Rocky said:

I beg to differ, it is Obama that started allowing 1 to 3 million Indians per year to come over to take the IT jobs. now they control all the hiring, so who do you think they will hire, of course brother. there are several military guys looking for jobs and they have to interview with Indians who are not even citizens and they determine our ex military faith

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June 22, 2017 at 6:36 pm, Jay said:

Yes, and my reply above was more a general comment than directed at you. Aside from Obama, believe me I know how you feel. But I have been subjected to this for years. Anyhow, what we are seeing is the end results of 20+ years. Now it is like you say. Indian hiring managers that look out for their own; god forbid an American does that! And, none ever get sent back from not finding work. Plus, all the wives now work as QA and business analysts. They’re coming close to pretty much stitching up the industry as a whole in general corporate development and anything involved in the life cycle. I have watched offshore resources get trained and certified and all sorts of stuff while the state side counter parts are left on the vine to wilt and fade away. I could write a book. Some are being groomed offshore and some make it over. And they are better equipped to run an offshore team. So now, American developers are on the outside looking in. And the takeover is proliferating and creeping into all aspects of IT: PM, Analysts, you name it…. pisses me off.

The main tragedy is you can never really prove you are the right person for a position. If I don’t like your face, I can piss on you in an interview and hammer you OR I can as reasonable questions. Who is the on that has determined Americans are not qualified?

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June 22, 2017 at 6:48 pm, jay said:

Let me answer my own question above “Who is the one that has determined Americans are not Qualified?” Let me again restate.

Corporate leaders like Jack Welch of General Electric. I will re-quote from above.

“I CAN GET BETTER ENGINEERS FOR CHEAPER OVERSEAS”
2001 Jack Welch CEO General Electric

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June 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm, Mesh said:

If someone has the top-notch tech talent, no one can stop Americans. American education system should stop attracting the international students with tuition fee worth $64,000 + which increases the talented no-American population and competition to earn the money and pay back the loan in a much weaker currency than USD.

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June 22, 2017 at 9:19 pm, Jeremy T said:

My take on this since I’m just starting out is, yes! There is a clear prejudice about hiring Americans to work in the Tech industry.
However I feel that it is mostly due to lack of competent employees in the American workforce. Most seem too lazy to get up and do something besides retail if they got lucky and made it to management before Corporations started to ask for a little more education for those roles. Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees.Now i feel this is the job of the American Corporations and their own complacency. They have no role in trying to recruit people who are capable of doing those jobs their goal should be to fill slots with individuals who may need some training to be able to do those task asked of them, but not to fully train people. They can do this but they choose not to do anything but bitch and moan with the feds make it hard for them to get cheap labor from other countries. We have huge problems with this as these individuals eventually become Citizens or they send most of the money back home and do very little to support the US’s economy.

That’s just my 2 cents, take it or leave it.

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June 22, 2017 at 10:32 pm, Texas said:

The nepotism, that Indians practice is the worst I’ve ever seen. I have spoken to a Director (Indian) in the I.T world and asked, if she could not find a qualified American. She told me, American’s can’t be controlled. She had one American on her team and was not too happy about that. I tell young American college students not to think about going into the I.T field, they will be very disappointed. It has been flooded with under qualified Indians….SAD!!!!!!

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