Sen. Marco Rubio told a nationwide audience in Wednesday’s CNBC Republican presidential debate that companies are importing foreign graduates because American college grads just can’t do the work.
The claim came when CNBC’s John Hardwood asked Rubio if he was undercutting American professionals by supporting a bill to let companies import more foreign temporary H-1B “guest workers” for white-collar jobs. Rubio evaded the question by blaming Americans’ supposed lack of skills.
“We need to get back to training people in this country to do the jobs of the 21st century… The best way to close this gap is to modernize higher education so Americans have the skills for those jobs,” Rubio claimed. The “ideal scenario is to train Americans to do the work, so we don’t have to rely on people from abroad,” Rubio declared.
According to labor experts and U.S. census data, foreign workers are often used to replace employed American workers, and the U.S. labor market is now flooded with under-employed Americans hoping to pay off their college debts and earn a decent wage.
“It’s ironic that Rubio would basically blame American workers for not being skilled and trained [even though] American workers in his own state, who have the skills and were doing their job, were replaced by H-1B workers, who had less skills,” Howard University professor Ron Hira told Breitbart News.
Rubio’s declaration at the CNBC debate echoed one of the more damaging statements made during his 2013 push to pass his “Gang of Eight” immigration expansion bill. Rubio’s aides told Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker in mid-2013 that American white-collar professionals and blue-collar workers can’t do the job and need to be replaced by foreign workers.
According to Lizza, the Rubio aide declared:
There are American workers who, for lack of a better term, can’t cut it. There shouldn’t be a presumption that every American worker is a star performer. There are people who just can’t get it, can’t do it, don’t want to do it. And so you can’t obviously discuss that publicly because–.”At which point another Rubio aide jumped it asserting, “But the same is true for the high-skilled worker.” To which, the first Rubio aide replied, “Yes, and the same is true across every sector, in government, in everything.
Instead of moving to stop Disney from using the H-1B visas, Rubio plowed ahead with his plan to triple lower-wage H-1B visas used to replace Americans. Rubio’s bill, the Immigration Innovation Act— or I-Squared— is endorsed by Disney’s CEO. That complicated bill also includes language in Section 303 that would allow an unlimited inflow of foreign college grads to work in a very wide variety of professional and technical sectors.
In his debate questioning, CNBC’s Hardwood confronted Rubio with populist leader Jeff Sessions’ opposition to Rubio’s donor-backed plan:
“Wired magazine recently carried the heading, “Marco Rubio wants to be the tech industry’s savior.” It noted your support for dramatically increasing immigration visas called H1B, which are designed for workers with the special skills that Silicon Valley wants. But your Senate colleague, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, says in reality, the tech industry uses this program to undercut hiring and wages for highly qualified Americans. Why is he wrong?”
Rubio dodged the question in a fashion reminiscent of his Gang of Eight sales pitch– proclaiming his support for so-called “reforms” which do not exist in his legislation. “If a company gets caught doing that, they should never be able to use the program again,” Rubio told Hardwood. “We need to add reforms, not just increase the numbers, but add reforms.”
But the New York Times’ Julia Preston exposed how Rubio misrepresented the contents of his immigration bill to American viewers:
Neither of [the] proposals [Rubio mentioned in the debate] is in a bill to increase H-1B visas that Mr. Rubio, along with other senators, sponsored this year. That bill, introduced in January, does not add any new protections from the existing H-1B program, which does not have a requirement to recruit American workers first and has led to many Americans being displaced by foreign workers with those visas.
Immigration experts have confirmed this as well. The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on H-1B abuses. In written testimony, immigration attorney John Miano was asked: “what protections exist for American workers in” Marco Rubio I-Squared bill. His blunt answer: “There are none.”
Data from the U.S. Census bureau and labor experts documents how “American professionals… can’t cut it” narrative could not be further from the truth.
The United States has a surplus– not a shortage– of skilled American professionals. Rutgers’ Hal Salzman has documented how the U.S. graduates two times more STEM students each year than find STEM graduates; there are more than 11 million Americans with STEM training but without STEM employment; the surplus of tech labor means IT workers have not seen real wage growth since the Clinton administration. As Salzman said in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
Proposed high-skill guest-worker legislation [such as the I-Squared bill] would expand the supply of guest-workers to levels greater than the total number of new technology jobs; that is, these visa changes would provide enough guest-workers to fill every new job opening in the IT workforce with a reserve large enough to allow firms to legally substitute young guest-workers for their incumbent workforce.
Many of the companies lobbying for more H-1B visas, such as Microsoft, are laying off thousands of their own American workers. This phenomenon prompted Jeff Sessions to demand that Mark Zuckerberg hire the American workers Bill Gates is laying off instead of importing foreign labor.
As Sessions said on the Senate floor last year:
Facebook has 7,000 workers. Microsoft just laid off 18,000. Why doesn’t Mr. Zuckerberg call his friend Mr. (Bill) Gates and say: ‘Look, I have to hire a few hundred people; do you have any résumés you can send over here?’ … Maybe I will not have to take somebody from a foreign country for a job an unemployed U.S. citizen might take.
Moreover, far from being more skilled than American workers, H-1B workers are often far less skilled. This is demonstrated by the American workers whom they are brought in to replace are required to spend months training the low-wage replacements.
Also, more than 80 percent of H-1B workers are paid less than the median wage in their field, according to Department of Labor data. A mere 6 percent of H-1B workers are classified by the DOL as “fully competent.” As ABC7’s Rebecca Vargas reported, “These highly specialized tech fields yield average salaries in the hundred thousand range, but for the younger foreign worker their median salary is about 62,000— some even less, according to published reports.”
Breitbart News conducted an exclusive interview with one such skilled American worker who trained their foreign replacement— a disabled mom who described the humiliation of this so-called ‘knowledge transfer.’
Contrary to Rubio’s assertion, the only so-called skills “gap” which exists at these companies is between experienced American workers who have been at these companies for years, and the incoming lower-wage foreign workers, who did not yet even have the proper training replace the incumbent American workers.
“We had jobs and there was no shortage of skilled labor that would make it necessary to bring in H-1Bs. We were let go and replaced by foreign workers who certainly weren’t skilled to take our positions,” one axed American explained.
Another said, “Through no fault of my own my job was just given to someone else with a lot less experience, knowledge and skills, lowering my standard of living and raising theirs so [the company] could save a few dollars and reward stockholders with a few more pennies on their dividends.”
As The Washington Examiner’s Byron York has explained these workers could only speak out on the condition of anonymity— as their former-employers have silenced them from exposing the cheap-labor practice by requiring the Americans “to sign non-disparagement agreements as a condition of their severance.” However, recently two of Rubio’s constituents, David Powers and Leo Perrero, broke their silence and described the details surrounding Disney’s reliance upon, what labor experts describe as, an “indentured servitude” program.
Rubio claims that these companies that replace Americans are “abusing” the program, but H-1B experts say primary purpose of the H-1B program is to replace Americans.
As WND’s Leo Hohmann writes, citing immigration attorney John Miano:
Companies are not “abusing,” “misusing” or “exploiting loopholes” in the H1-B guest-worker program. Rather, the program was designed by Congress to do exactly what it is accomplishing – the replacement of the American tech worker with cheap foreign “guest workers.”
One of the displaced Disney workers, who shared their story in an exclusive to Breitbart News, said, “It is very clear that the H1-B visa is about cutting wages and exploiting immigration guest workers programs at less pay… The proposed new bill, “I-Squared”, introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake and Orin Hatch will triple the number of foreign H1-B guest workers increasing this problem threefold. I challenge them to read this story and think about the thousands or more workers just like us at Disney who will lose their jobs.”
Rubio’s answer on H-1Bs flies created a deep contrast with Rubio’s comments about his own low-income childhood.
Many of the American workers being laid off and replaced by H-1bs are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their children. As one fired American said, “My layoff has made my children fearful of their future and the security of their home. If I stay in the IT field I run a high risk of again being replaced by a foreign worker. It’s a farce teaching our kids STEM when the government is permitting U.S. companies to abuse the H-1B visa program, which allows foreigners to take these future jobs from them.”
Many students rack up enormous college debt only to find no job waiting for them when they graduate. “I would never recommend this field [i.e. highly specialized tech field] to anybody that is a student because of the lack of opportunity,” Rubio’s constituent, Leo Perrero, told ABC7. His fellow displaced co-worker, David Powers, agreed: “You don’t want your kids coming out of college and having no job, the STEM program is a joke.”
Rush Limbaugh explained that the immigration push all goes black to pleasing wealthy donors.
If immigration-advocate Rep. Paul Ryan is still Speaker of the House in 2017 and Rubio is in the Oval Office, “in the first 12 months of the Rubio… administration, first 12-to-18 months, the donor-class agenda is implemented, including amnesty and whatever else they want.”