The Computer Braceros

by Patrick J. Buchanan – April 21, 1998

Why is a Republican Party that once declared the protection of U.S. economic independence and the American standard of living the essence of its creed doing this? Why is the party of the full dinner pail colluding in a betrayal of American engineers and scientists who have already been punished by deep defense cuts, corporate downsizings and the wholesale export of U.S. manufacturing?…

Wenever one points to the exploding U.S. merchandise trade deficit — running at a record annual rate of $222 billion in ’98 — and vanishing U.S. manufacturing jobs, the impatient retort comes back:

“Oh, quit worrying about the trade deficit. Who cares about those ‘dead end’ jobs anyway? Let the auto plants and textile mills go to Mexico or Asia. Those are yesterday’s industries, yesterday’s jobs. Tomorrow’s jobs are in computers and high tech.”

Well, now, many of tomorrow’s jobs are about to be taken away from American workers and given to foreigners. Consider:

Under U.S. immigration law, H-1Bs are high-skilled foreign temporary workers, for whom an annual quota of 65,000 has been set. Silicon Valley, however, so loves these foreign workers, who cost less and are totally dependent on their employers, it wants the quota raised to 95,000 immediately and then up to 105,000.

And a bill to do just that has passed Senate Judiciary with the enthusiastic backing of our open-borders Republican leadership.

Having driven Reagan Democrats over to the Reform Party and Ross Perot with a trade policy that sent millions of industrial jobs abroad, the GOP now seems determined to alienate white-collar workers by bringing foreign workers in to replace the Americans in Silicon Valley.

The Commerce Department estimates that 1.3 million jobs will be created in information technology in the next decade. Thus, the importation of up to a million high-skilled foreigners would have a devastating impact on the job opportunities of American computer scientists and programmers. Since college enrollment in computer studies has exploded nationwide — by 40 percent last year — the GOP is about to kill the dreams of thousands of young Americans.

Why are we doing this? According to Norm Matloff, professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, U.S. computer companies are already turning away 25 to 50 applicants for every one they hire. Why then import more foreign technicians?

Simple: Silicon Valley prefers “guest workers.” They demand less pay and are more pliable, as they are dependent on employers for gaining resident alien (“green card”) status. After being squeezed dry, these highly paid indentured servants can be turned loose into the population and new workers brought in to replace them. Americans are thus now being dispossessed in their own country.

“Money is not the driving factor” for the computer titans, says author Roy Beck. “It’s so much easier for them to go to a country with a billion people, like India, and pick up the willing programmers with this or that skill. It’s easier for them to go to India than Indiana.”

In the 1950s, the United States had a “bracero” program. Mexican farm workers would come in to do the “stoop labor” Americans would not do. The H-1Bs are computer braceros, the difference being that the Mexicans were brought in to do jobs Americans did not want, while the new braceros are being brought in to take jobs Americans do want, for themselves and for their children.

Why is a Republican Party that once declared the protection of U.S. economic independence and the American standard of living the essence of its creed doing this? Why is the party of the full dinner pail colluding in a betrayal of American engineers and scientists who have already been punished by deep defense cuts, corporate downsizings and the wholesale export of U.S. manufacturing?

Answer: The conservatism of the heart that made the GOP the party of Middle America, the idea that we put our own country and its people first, has been replaced by a utilitarian ethic. Dow-Jones is the new god and a company’s stock price the ultimate test of value. Loyalty to one’s fellow citizens and patriotism are now judged to be burdensome sentimental baggage.

A near-sighted corporate America believes that by ridding itself of highly paid U.S. workers, it can stay in front of Europe and Japan in the Global Economy. And there are two ways to replace U.S. workers: Ship factories and jobs overseas, where foreign labor can do the work — or bring the foreign workers into the United States to replace Americans in their own country. In both schemes, the Fortune 500 has found a willing collaborator in the GOP.

Yes, soft money pays big dividends.

Scholar Christian Kopff once asked, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his country?” But in Silicon Valley, some see themselves as citizens of the world and fellow Americans as expensive and disposable factors of production.