At the end of May, it will be three years since former tech employee Craig Diangelo was laid off and forced to train his foreign replacement through the H-1B visa.
The 64-year-old is looking to change the very system which dismantled his and so many of his friends’ lives. Diangelo is running for the Fifth Congressional District in Connecticut, which is currently held by pro-H-1B Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT).
“She’s useless,” Diangelo said of Esty in an interview with Breitbart Texas.
Diangelo said in 2013, he was working at what is now Eversource Energy, when suddenly the company partnered with Infosys and Tata Consulting Service to replace at least 220 Americans’ jobs to primarily Indian nationals who were coming to the U.S. through the H-1B visa.
That’s when Diangelo, who was featured on an H-1B visa investigative on 60 Minutes last month, said he and his fellow American coworkers, many of whom who had been at the company for more than a decade, put up a silent protest.
The Americans knew their days were numbered at Eversource Energy, formerly North East Utilities, so they began putting American flags at each of their cubicles, and when they were fired due to the H-1B visa replacement workers, they would pack up their things and take their flag down.
Eventually, Diangelo said, there were no American flags left, with the entire makeup of the IT department coming through the H-1B visa at the expense of the locals. To make matters even worse, the Americans either complied to train their foreign replacements or see their severance packages disappear.
“The company would say, ‘You’re not being forced to train your replacements, but if you don’t, you don’t get your severance,’” Diangelo told Breitbart Texas.
“My company bound us to non-disparagement agreements, which means we were not allowed to disparage the company or talk about what was happening,” Diangelo said. “It’s good for a lifetime. You’re bound by that contract.”
Every year, more than 100,000 foreign workers are brought to the U.S. on the H-1B visa. Most recently, that number has ballooned to potentially hundreds of thousands each year, as universities and non-profits are exempt from the cap. With more entering the U.S. through the visa, Americans are often replaced.
“For a year afterward, I was very upset and depressed,” Diangelo said. “A lot of people couldn’t find work. Lots of the older workers are working at supermarkets and driving school buses. Others moved out of the area.”
Of the 220 American employees fired and replaced from Eversource Energy by H-1B foreign guest workers, Diangelo remains the only one who has spoken openly about the issue.
Now, he wants to unseat Esty to represent the once industrial region of New Britain, an area that he says was devastated by the NAFTA free-trade agreement, which made it easier for companies to outsource jobs to Mexico and Canada.
“She’s been of no help whatsoever,” Diangelo said of Esty. “In the years since I was laid off, I’ve got nothing but lip-service from my representatives.”
Though frustrated with the lack of action from Democrats and Republicans in Congress to protect American workers and their jobs, Diangelo said he recently was inspired by a speech Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) gave on the Senate floor.
At the time, Cotton was lambasting the recent House spending bill, as it would have increased the number of foreign workers entering the U.S. under a different foreign guest worker visa known as the H-2B.
“The employers who abuse the H-2B program go to the greatest lengths to avoid hiring an American worker,” Cotton said on the Senate floor. “The program says you have to advertise for the job in advance. And they do, hundreds of miles away in obscure newspapers that have nothing to do with the employer’s local economy.”
Diangelo said he was impressed by the impassioned plea for Americans.
“That’s the type of lawmaker I want to be,” Diangelo said. “I want to get on that floor and talk about how this is hurting American workers. The government has made it too easy for corporations to circumvent H-1B law.”
Currently, Diangelo said he has a pending Department of Justice (DOJ) discrimination lawsuit against Infosys, with hopes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions will take steps toward penalizing employers who are responsible for the some 1.7 million American workers who’ve been laid off and displaced because of the H-1B visa.
“I identify with the America First agenda,” Diangelo said. “This really is a big issue.”
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.