President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist seems to think there are too many immigrants leading Silicon Valley. Steve Bannon, who previously served as Breitbart News Network’s executive chairman, hinted at some of his views on foreign workers at technology companies in the past. In an interview between Trump and Bannon that took place last year, and that The Washington Post resurfaced yesterday, Bannon alluded to the idea that foreign students should return to their respective countries after attending school in the US, instead of sticking around and working at or starting tech companies.
Trump voiced concern over these students attending Ivy League schools and then going home: “We have to be careful of that, Steve. You know, we have to keep our talented people in this country,” Trump said.
When asked if he agreed, Bannon responded: “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the CEOs in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think . . . ” he didn’t finish his sentence. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.”
While Bannon didn’t explicitly say anything against immigrants, he seemed to hint at the idea of a white nationalist identity with the phrase “civic society.” Taken in tandem with the stories Bannon allowed to go up on Breitbart News, including pieces that attacked women, feminists, political correctness, muslims, and trans people, Bannon’s comment wouldn’t come as a surprise.
Meanwhile, foreign-born CEOs, including Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, have tried to quell concerns from employees. In a note last week, Nadella and Microsoft congratulated Trump, while saying that the company’s commitment to “fostering a diverse and inclusive culture” remains “steadfast.” Mark Zuckerberg-backed FWD.us has also said it plans to reject and work against a rollback or freeze on reform of the H-1B visa program. The H-1B visa is the most widely used system for bringing high-skilled foreign labor into the US. For now, Trump’s policy on those visas is still up in the air.