Friday, November 24, 2017

Undoing the unAmerican H1-B work visa program.

Trump Keeping His Word on H-1B Work Visas

Karin McQuillan

The pro-immigration lawyers are apoplectic, which is always a sign for celebration. As in other Trump achievements during his first year, the President is accomplishing a cutback on foreign tech workers displacing Americans entirely on his own. The Republican Congress remains stubbornly opposed to the immigration restrictions Republican voters want.  
The main tool at President Trump’s disposal is the appointment of a new agency head, in this case Francis Cissna as director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), who came on board in October, followed in swift order by the novel idea of actually following the law and scrutinizing visa applications.
Unsurprisingly, the law calls for high-skilled visas for foreign workers to fill critical jobs. Instead, Silicon Valley and the Obama Administration abused the privilege and used it to import cheap STEM workers to replace higher-paid Americans.  H-1B visas are heavily used by outsourcing firms. First, they bring a worker here to be trained by skilled Americans. Then they shut down the American facility and outsource the jobs to India. Not a nice policy for the U.S. government to actively support.
Wages in the IT industry rose rapidly throughout the 1990s, but have been essentially flat or declining in the past decade, which coincides with the rising number of guest workers on temporary visas.
(snip) Companies so routinely evade protections in the visa system designed to prevent displacement of American citizens that immigration lawyers have produced videos about how it is done. For instance, tech companies that import temporary workers, mainly recent graduates from India, commonly discard more expensive, experienced employees in their late 30s or early 40s, often forcing them, as Ron Hira and other labor-force researchers note, to train their replacements as they exit. Age discrimination, Hira says, is “an open secret” in the tech world.
Controlling the abuse of H1-B visas is a core part of Trump’s agenda to bring jobs of American companies back home.
Outsourcing companies use the temporary visas to bring workers to the US to learn the jobs that the client company is planning to move to temp workers’ home country. The 10 firms with the largest number of H-1B visas, the most common visa for high-skill workers, are all in the business of shipping work overseas, and former Indian commerce minister Kamil Nath famously labeled the H-1B “the outsourcing visa.”
These practices have helped to reduce incomes and career prospects in STEM fields drastically enough to produce what UC Davis’s Norman Matloff calls “an internal brain drain” of talented Americans to other, more promising career opportunities such as Wall Street, healthcare, or patent law.
Under Trump, our immigration agency is doing its job, to protect American jobs.  More than a quarter of the applications are being sent back for further proof of necessity.  Most of the refused visas are for programming jobs at the low end of the pay scale, unlikely to be critical skills Americans can’t supply.
More immigration restrictions are expected soon. Obama’s Immigration service automatically granted wives of H-1B visas the right to work here, taking American jobs. That regulation was challenged in court, and the Trump DOJ is expected to drop the defense and allow it to become illegal. 

Obama also instituted a program giving green cards to every foreign graduate of an American college with a master’s or PhD in a STEM field -- even though hundreds of thousands of STEM graduates are unemployed or underemployed, and are being forced to leave science and engineering fields.
Two big regulatory changes are looming that would undo actions by the Obama administration that eased the way for high-skilled foreign workers…  the Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreign graduates from U.S. colleges in science and technology an extra two years of work authorization, giving them time to win an H-1B visa. The Trump administration could kill that benefit or reduce the two-year window, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Including subcategories, we have 185 different visa programs, a rich field for abusing the law and American workers by large multinational and IT firms. 
Another section of the swamp is being drained, one destructive regulation at a time.

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