How Trump Accelerated The Virtualization Of Work

Coronavirus and bigotry are creating a perfect storm

Indi Samarajiva
Jul 8 · 4 min read

America has banned immigrant workers and virtualized work. You couldn’t create a better outsourcing policy if you tried.

Today, Donald Trump’s immigration ban has spread from Muslims, to asylum seekers, to green card applicants, to H-B1, to student visas, and many work visas. America is effectively closed for business.

At the same time, business is closed. Due to his world-beating mismanagement of COVID-19, America will be full of virus for years. Many people, especially in ‘skilled’ tech jobs, are working from home, and office cultures are adapting to become completely virtual.

All of a sudden it doesn’t matter if you have a visa. You don’t need a visa for a Zoom call. You can sign up for GitHub with an email. Immigrants can still do the work, they just can’t migrate. So they’ll do what everyone else is doing. They’ll work from home.

Unwittingly, Donald Trump has accelerated the virtualization of work decades into the future. He really did put a wall around America, but COVID created thousands of virtual offices that don’t care.

Thanks I guess. Donald Trump just created thousands of jobs for people he despises. People like me.


Bye Pradeepa, Hi Pradeepa

Here’s a example. Meet Pradeepa.

Now

Pradeepa was about to move to San Francisco. She was looking at houses, schools, doing some shopping online. Then H-1B visas were suspended. She was stuck.

Pradeepa called her new boss frantically, but Esme said it was fine. Everyone was working from home, she could just jump on the next Zoom call. So Pradeepa started work. From Colombo, Sri Lanka.

January

It’s been months, but America never controlled coronavirus. Offices are still remote and the immigration ban is still in place, until the government changes.

Esme looks at the budget and realizes that they can get 5 engineers for the price of one, in Colombo, or Accra, or Ulaanbaatar, all places with a vibrant talent pool which happen to be mostly COVID-free. So five jobs are created. Just not in America.

Pradeepa sets up an office. Just not in America.

April

The immigration ban is lifted, but the board doesn’t care anymore. They gave up the San Francisco office months ago and all of the new engineers are remote. The entire culture and tools of the office have changed, they wouldn’t know what to do with a physical employee if they had one.

Maybe $100,000 of value was happening at the water cooler, but it never showed up on the P&L. Where they do have offices, it’s in safe countries, with functioning public health services, not failed states like America. The board is happy because it’s cheaper, and the quality is better, because suddenly they’re drawing from a global talent pool.

The violent shock of the immigration ban plus coronavirus has accelerated the virtualization of work 20 years into the future. Silicon Valley has gone global. Not really what a racist President intended, but the economic forces were stronger than his malicious intent.


That, in short, is how Trump outsourced your job. In the short-term, his policies are incredibly cruel — families are separated, careers are derailed, dreams are denied. In the long-term, however, America’s loss is humanity’s gain.

The engine of American growth was always immigration. Half of Fortune 500 CEOs are immigrants or the children of immigrants. Immigrants create new business at double the native rate. After Trump stops the engine and makes America toxic for years, that growth goes somewhere else. It spreads across the world.

A thousand smaller flowers bloom, out of the valley of empire. The American century ends. And people are glad.

Trump never made America great again, but by destroying it, he created a lot of opportunities across the world. So thanks I guess. America tried to ban immigration, but as a nation of immigrants, in the end they just banned themselves.

indica

Views from the global south

Indi Samarajiva

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Founded some stuff, sold one, now writing full time. He/him. Contact: indi@indi.ca

indica

indica

A global south perspective on the world.

Indi Samarajiva

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Founded some stuff, sold one, now writing full time. He/him. Contact: indi@indi.ca

indica

indica

A global south perspective on the world.

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