American worker advocates who want to see the H-1B visa program reformed have mixed feelings about President Trump’s meeting with tech CEOs this week.
During a meeting with Silicon Valley’s top tech CEOs at the White House, as Breitbart News reported, Trump signaled a willingness to work with the industry on issues like the H-1B visa, which brings in hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to take American jobs.
“[W]e’re working very diligently with everybody, including Congress, on immigration so that you can get the people you want in your companies,” Trump said following the meeting, Breitbart News reported.
A handful of anti-H-1B experts and attorneys gave the President’s comments a mixed review.
Rosemary Jenks from NumbersUSA, which has long called for reform to H-1B to protect American jobs, said it was “unclear” whether or not Trump was restating his long-held anti-H-1B position or softening on the issue.
“It’s really unclear if it’s a changing of position, or if its just the way Trump talks. We saw this during the campaign,” Jenks told Breitbart Texas. “The idea of getting tech companies the workers they actually need, isn’t a problem, because it’s clear they don’t need many foreign workers.”
Mark Krikorian with the Center for Immigration Studies told Breitbart Texas he similarly did not put much clout into Trump’s words at the tech industry meeting, saying “I’m not sure his referencing comprehensive immigration reform at the meeting really means anything.”
“The president’s comments can never be seen as subtle messaging about what’s coming up in policy,” Krikorian said. “That’s not the way this president works. I think it’s all talk until we see action.”
Other opponents to the H-1B visa, where Americans are often fired and forced to train their foreign replacements, said they don’t believe Trump’s position has necessarily changed, but that the administration needs to do more on reforming H-1B.
“Since August of 2015, Trump has always had the same position on the H-1B visa,” UC Davis Professor Normand Matloff said. “It has been consistent for two years. I don’t like his position, but it has not changed. Sometimes, he’s not so much aware of what he says.”
“His position is that he supports the hiring of foreign nationals in Silicon Valley and opposes hiring by the Indian outsourcing firms,” Matloff said. “He’s said this again and again. I don’t like it.”
Attorney Sara Blackwell told Breitbart Texas that Trump needs to hold a similar meeting, as he did with the tech CEOS, with Americans who have lost their jobs to the H-1B visa and outsourcing.
“Honestly, if you want the high-skilled workers, then we need to cut out the business model of bringing in foreign labor just because it’s cheaper,” Blackwell said. “The current H-1B visa is being used by the tech CEOs to bring in cheap labor.”
“What needs to be heard is the American workers and legal immigrants this is hurting,” Blackwell continued. “They need to completely change the H-1B… which means extreme reform.”
Despite an executive order by Trump to conduct full, inter-agency legal review of the H-1B visa, there continues to be no path forward for reforming the foreign worker program, there continues to be no major legislation proposed yet that would bring major changes to H-1B.
Jenks and Krikorian, though, said they expect to see a kind of H-1B reform where American companies can still get the foreign workers they want, so long as their salaries are higher than that of their native counterparts.
Matloff said this kind of reform is based on the premise that the American tech giants are generally not abusing the H-1B visa, while the Indian outsourcing firms like Infosys and Tata Consulting Services are misusing the visa to replace Americans. He says this premise is false, telling Breitbart Texas that the entire industry is abusing the visa.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.