Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) is singling out the H-1B visa program in a new op-ed for its harmful impact on American workers.
In a piece titled ‘Putting The American Worker First,’ Brat argues that the H-1B visa puts the need of foreign workers first, rather than Americans, by allowing businesses to bring in 85,000 new foreign workers every year, often taking once high-paying jobs from Americans who are fired and forced to train their replacements.
“One thing is clear: the United States’ immigration policy should serve first and foremost the interests of the American worker,” Brat begins the op-ed:
The current system for H-1B visa workers does not put the interests of our country first, and rampant abuses to the system leave the American worker standing on the sidelines and often underemployed. During a time of heightened political divides, this is an issue both Democrats and Republicans in Congress can agree needs to be addressed.
Too often, companies capitalize on the loopholes in our immigration system to displace high-skilled American workers in search of cheap labor. I applaud the announcement of President Trump’s America First policy to return more American jobs to American workers by rooting out fraud, identifying necessary reforms and punishing companies exploiting the system for their own financial gain.
Brat touts his H-1B reform plan introduced with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), where employers seeking foreign workers through the H-1B visa would have to raise the minimum wage for those workers, while also giving “investigative authority” to the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor to “find abuses and creates more defined allotment categories to prioritize STEM workers.”
The abuses of the H-1B visa at the expense of American workers have largely been silenced, according to Brat, as fired Americans are forced to sign agreements which mandates they not speak about the termination:
The outrage from laid-off American tech workers has been muted because companies frequently require employees to sign nondisclosure forms prohibiting them from criticizing their employers in exchange for severance pay. Last year, employees at Disney filed in federal court to sue outsourcing companies that contracted with American companies to supplant Americans with H-1B workers.
And just last month, 60 Minutes aired an episode entitled “You’re Fired” that highlighted how the H-1B visa program is working against the American worker. The episode told the story of Robert Harrison, an engineer at a medical center in San Francisco. Last October, he was told along with 80 of his IT coworkers that they were being fired and replaced with international workers. These American workers were asked to train their replacements and promised generous bonuses.
The American worker should be allowed to compete for positions before a company outsources the jobs to a foreign worker with an H-1B visa. The purpose of our immigration laws should be to protect the interests of our country and promote a thriving economy and productive citizens. Instead, the H-1B system has created an entire industry of foreign workers coming to the United States to be trained, and then the role is outsourced back to their country of origin for drastically lower wages. This practice eliminates many traditional entry-level positions for technical professionals in the United States.
Brat says that not only does the H-1B visa harm the millions of displaced Americans that it has impacted since its inception, but it “underpays and exploits foreign workers,” writing that the current GOP-led Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration must make major reforms to the program.
Trump’s newest executive order targets the H-1B visa for its abuses by U.S. companies, calling for a “full legal analysis” of the program by DOJ, DHS, and the Labor Department, as Breitbart Texas reported.
If the H-1B visa program had never been enacted, computer science job availability in the labor market would be up 11 percent and wages in the tech industry would have increased by five percent, Breitbart News reported.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.