Immigration policy played an important part in the debate before and after the 2016 election.
The debate was focused on whether or not to protect undocumented aliens in the United States because they do “jobs Americans won’t do” – for example agriculture, food processing, and unskilled construction.
But no attention has been paid to protecting jobs Americans are doing from documented alien labor.
- In 2015 60,000 bachelor degrees in Computer Science were earned from American colleges and universities.
- The same year an estimated 91,000 information technology workers in the United States were laid off from their jobs.
- During the next few months technology giants like IBM, Intel and Hewlett Packard added another +/- 50,000 Americans to the ranks of the unemployed.
Despite the loss of +/- 200,000 US technology jobs, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proceeded to awarded 85,000 “temporary high skilled knowledge worker” non-immigrant visas (H1-B) to foreign contract worker firms and American technology firms — 85,000 direct competitors for the limited number of IT jobs available in 2016 and 2017.
Why are we not Employing American Workers?
The phenomenon is not new. Computer World estimates that at least 776,000 tech workers have entered the United States to directly compete with American workers between 2007 and 2017.
For the last few years, the majority of these visas (65,000 annually) went to India-based contract labor (outsourcing) firms. The firms, in turn, hire BA graduates from Indian colleges and universities to fill the visas.
- These workers do not possess skills not found among US graduates.
- The quality of their work is not superior to US citizens. Yes, I’ve worked with them – extensively.
- These workers do not carry the average $30,000 student loan burden of American college graduates
- These workers are paid an average of 25 percent less than Americans in the same job classification
The advanced degree quota for H1-B visas (20,000 annually) go to high technology companies — Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Intel, to name just a few.
In addition, H1-B visas are issued to American college and universities above the annual quota stipulated by Congress.
While, at the same time, the National Institutes of Health spends $11 million a year to help US citizen Ph.D. graduates in STEM to find alternative careers. There are not enough jobs for all the Ph.D. graduates USA universities produce.
Solution: Hire a Made-in-America Worker
The H1-B visa program poses a direct threat to US technology workers – both present and future – as the numbers of these workers have continued to grow despite a general weakening of demand for IT workers in the United States.
In recent years more and more high profile American companies have fired entire departments of American workers and hired H1-B replacements.
- Southern California Edison
- Northeast Utilities
- Toys R Us
- Disney Company http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/06/emmons-when-walt-disney-co-replaces-americans-with-h1b-workers-its-a-small-world-for-sure/
- University of California San Francisco Medical Center
- Too many more to name
In all of these situations, the American workers were required to train their replacements as a condition of receiving their severance pay!
Many of the displaced workers had 10, 15 or 20 years of service to the firms that dismissed them in the name of profits. http://fortune.com/2015/12/24/disney-bob-iger-compensation/
Turn-off the Spigot
Despite extensive investigation and numerous hearings before Congressional Committees no action has been taken to correct the abuses of the H1-B program.
Currently there are three bills pending. One in the Senate and two in the House, including one authored by Silicon Valley representative Zoe Lofgren which would require H1-B employers to pay 150 to 200 percent of the current prevailing wage for that job classification – a move that would bring the program back to its original intent. Once, again, the H1-B visa would be reserved for the rare, unusual and uniquely skilled job creator.
In addition, the Trump Administration has issued an Executive Order to “study” the problem but did so without turning off the spigot.
Exactly the opposite should be done.
There is a practice from an earlier time in information technology that applies to the current H1-B situation.
Before every executive had a laptop with a company performance dashboard in the middle of his/her desk, IT departments used to produce volumes of paper reports. Periodically, the queue of reports had to be “cleared” to reduce wasted paper and reduce labor costs.
The IT Department would simply stop printing all the reports one Friday evening and wait to hear on Monday who called and asked for their report. If no one asked for a specific report by the following Friday, it was discontinued.
Instead of waiting for Congress – which has shown no appetite to touch anything related to immigration this year – let’s just turn-off the spigot by Executive Order.
Don’t hold a lottery to award the 85,000 2017 H1-B visas and see if any labor shortage occurs – if any company mounts a court challenge in the name of shareholder profits.
It is more likely that the result would more be more jobs and better wages for American technology workers.