We are told that some companies, including most of high-tech’s biggest names, have filed a fifteen-page brief in the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. They want President Trump to rescind his Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States which is currently being refined to withstand legal challenges from these and related special interests.
Beginning with 96 companies, the brief quickly grew to 127 as high-tech firms jumped on the anti-Trump bandwagon. They argue that the executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and all refugees ‘inflicts significant harm on American business’. Some of the companies have even threatened to ‘move jobs outside the United States’, unless they get their way.
The brief their lawyers have prepared argues that, ‘The beneficiaries are not just the new immigrants who chose to come to our shores, but American businesses, workers, and consumers, who gain immense advantages from immigrants’ infusion of talents, energy, and opportunity’. The companies argue that the order created uncertainty for companies depending on talent from overseas and global business travel to innovate and create jobs in the United States.
The companies said in the filing that the ban prevents high-tech companies from attracting talent, increases business costs and makes competing in the global marketplace more difficult. ‘Highly skilled immigrants will be more interested in working abroad, in places where they and their colleagues can travel freely and with assurance that their immigration status will not suddenly be revoked’, they continued. ‘Multinational companies will have strong incentives … to base operations outside the United States or to move or hire employees and make investments abroad’.
Martin Flaherty, a professor of constitutional law at Fordham Law School in New York City said, ‘I would think that perhaps for certain justices, the fact that all these tech companies are saying this would be terrible for the country is important’.
A serious threat indeed but how believable are their arguments, and threats? If these 127 companies were to relocate outside the USA where would they go? As the demands are based on the argument that without high-tech talent from these seven countries, American IT companies cannot do business, therefore, one would assume logically that they would move to those countries. If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed then Mohammed (or Microsoft) must go to the mountain.
Yet no one in their right minds could seriously imagine Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Adobe, Yahoo, Google or any other high-tech company moving to Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq or Libya in order to take advantage of the non-existent high-tech expertise they are looking for and cannot find in the USA.
We have to ask how many people are already employed in advanced computer-related work from any of the countries mentioned in the ban? The only country mentioned in the temporary travel ban that has a high level of computer literacy is Iran. Iranians are already well represented among the top talent of the American IT industry. Were the high-tech companies remotely honest they would agitate for access to Iranian talent, and stop pretending that the Yemen , Somalia, Sudan etc. are brimming with exceptional computer programmers and graphic designers without whom American companies will collapse.
If the high-tech executives were normal businessmen whose sole aim was to provide profits for their shareholders in order to strengthen and expand their companies, we might be spared their grandstanding. Greater profits means greater investment, means more jobs; most businessmen see that capitalism works. Unfortunately the high-tech oligarchs are not normal businessmen, they are true believers. They are social justice warriors who see themselves at the cutting edge of progress and are determined to use their power to drag the rest of us along with them.
When it grows up Microsoft wants to be the government.
(Image: Diego Cambiaso)