Short version: at last night's debate the topic of H-1B visas* came up. Last night Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump at the debate how he felt about temporary work visas now. Trump said that he loved them to death, and was softening the position found on his website. Somewhere out in the political wilderness, Senator Jeff Sessions (an H-1B visa restrictionist who is endorsing Trump solely because of Trump's position on immigration, supposedly) immediately suffered a nosebleed from the psychic shock of this sudden, yet inevitable betrayal**. The Trump campaign had to go out and send around an email saying, No, really, forget that Trump said that. Please, please, please, forget that Trump said that. Also: Trump can't tell the difference between a H-1B and a H-2B visa.
For the longer story? Well, let's go to the transcripts.
KELLY: Mr. Trump, your campaign website to this day argues that more visas for highly skilled workers would, quote, "decimate American workers". However, at the CNBC debate, you spoke enthusiastically in favor of these visas. So, which is it?
TRUMP: I'm changing. I'm changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can't do it, we'll get them in. But, and we do need in Silicon Valley, we absolutely have to have.
So, we do need highly skilled, and one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges. They'll go to Harvard, they'll go to Stanford, they'll go to Wharton, as soon as they're finished they'll get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately, they're not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.
KELLY: So you abandoning the position on your website...
TRUMP: ... I'm changing it, and I'm softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.
If you're taking a strong stance on ending or at least cutting back the H-1B program - like, say, Mark Krikorian of National Review, or Michelle Malkin - this position is appalling. I want to be really careful right now, because I am of course a pro-immigration squish; but if I understand Mark Krikorian's position here he feels that Trump is simply talking tough about immigration to please his own base, and is using the H-1B issue to signal to hypothetical*** general election donors that Trump's not actually really into all this immigration hawk stuff. Which last part I'll agree with, for reasons that I'll get into later.
At any rate, Trump's long-suffering official He Didn't Mean It Squad had to play cleanup again:
Megyn Kelly asked about highly-skilled immigration. The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration...
- And we'll stop there because when there are two flat-out lies in the first two sentences of your press release, there's no point to keep going, is there? Look at the transcript again. Megyn Kelly didn't ask about immigration. She asked about work visas. As for the high-skilled part - look, H-1B visas are for people with college degrees. One of the major criticisms of the H-1B program is that it supposedly takes away STEM jobs from Americans with equivalent skills.
Which means that the aforementioned press release shows that neither Donald Trump nor his staff knows the difference between a H-1B visa and a H-2B visa. You see, H-2B visas are for low-skill temporary work. And Donald Trump knows this, certainly, because he still uses them all the time for his hotels. Including, interestingly, in Florida. And why does Trump use H-2B visas? Well, let's go to the transcript yet again, because Marco Rubio was able to explain the entire thing succinctly:
RUBIO: ... And, here's why he does it this way, let me explain why he (INAUDIBLE) H2-B...
TRUMP: ... Wrong...
RUBIO: ... Because when you bring them in this way, when you bring someone in on one of these visas they can't go work for anybody else. They either work for you or they have to go back home. You basically have them captive, so you don't have to worry about competing for higher wages with another hotel down the street. And, that's why you bring workers from abroad.
Note that Marco Rubio knows exactly what a H-2B visa is. And why Donald Trump uses them (because H-1Bs and H-2Bs give companies a lot of leverage over the foreigners that they've hired). And this is part and parcel of the reason why some immigration hawks are a little steamed right now at Trump. Nobody likes being flat-out lied to, particularly when it's being done in this contemptuous a fashion.
And if Trump is lying about this, it's for certain that he's lying about building a wall. Which you hopefully already knew, anyway. If you didn't, well... he's not building a wall.
*For those who are not familiar with them - lucky, lucky you - H-1B visas are work visas issued to non-immigrants in specific occupations. These visas are tied to a specific job and employer, and their existence and use are a... definite part of our current robust and vigorous debate over immigration policy.
**Not really. I'm sure that he felt suddenly sick and confused, though.
***A bit more hypothetical now than before the debate, might I add. And the Trump campaign agrees with me, given how quickly they leaped to smother the fire with their own bodies.