Labor Dept. Promises to Help U.S. Workers, Draft H-1B Curbs

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The Department of Labor will rewrite regulations to prevent major companies from hiring cheap foreign workers instead of skilled Americans, says the agency secretary, Eugene Scalia.

The rewrite is required by President Donald Trump’s June 22 Executive Order, Scalia said in a July 2 op-ed:

The Proclamation temporarily halts, through the end of the year, entry into the U.S. of certain temporary foreign workers, and extends the President’s suspension on certain immigrant visas.

The Proclamation also directs the Department of Labor to make long-term reforms and enhancements to the H-1B visa program, a program that was intended to supplement the U.S. workforce with exceptional, high-skilled foreign workers, but which has often been misused as a source of cheap foreign labor.

“Misused” understates the problem. Fortune 500 companies and their subcontractors use the H-1B, L-1, OPT, CPT, and TN pipelines to import at least 1.3 million white-collar visa workers, most of whom are Indian. Many of the resident contract-workers are training in the U.S. to take Americans’ jobs back to India, and many others are working in a no-Americans-allowed labor market where employers can hire labor by paying foreigners with a slice of Americans’ citizenship instead of with shareholders’ cash.

The legal visa workforce also works alongside a growing illegal population of foreign college-graduate workers. Most of them are low-wage gig workers for the large number of Indian-run companies that work as legal subcontractors for Fortune 500 companies.

White-collar outsourcing is becoming more visible, in part because it generates far higher profits for major companies than the traditional blue-collar illegal migration.

In response, American graduates have formed their own grassroots groups to defend their jobs, careers, and children’s futures. These lobby groups helped persuade Trump to issue the June 22 policy, say insiders.

In early 2020, Trump and his deputies mostly stopped the flow of blue-collar illegal migrants across the Mexican border. The Illegal alien population in the United States now includes at least 11 million people, including several million in white-collar jobs.

Scalia noted that “many visas’ are being misused by white-collar employers:

H-1B visas were intended to be a pipeline for highly skilled and specialized foreign talent that could complement and bolster the work being done by American employees.

But today many visas go to nonimmigrant workers whose skills are not particularly specialized and who are paid an entry-level wage that undercuts the pay of American workers. The H-1B program was never intended to create a pool of foreign labor that displaces Americans’ opportunities for good-paying jobs.

Scalia’s popular visa-worker regulations are slated for fast-track delivery, and likely will be first published as drafts so voters can check for pro-business loopholes. For example, under current laws and regulations, subcontract staffing companies are free to import workers to perform the jobs held by American employees of Fortune 500 companies  – even when Americans can perform the jobs.

The promised turnabout is good news for American professionals, partly because the labor department has done almost nothing to curb the inflow of visa workers for the last 28 years.

The inaction has allowed CEOs and investors to transfer at least one million U.S. jobs to visa workers, and also to move many other white-collar jobs to India. The job shift has suppressed salaries for millions of Americans and spiked stock prices for many investors. It has dramatically boosted the Democrats’ ballot strength in California, Virginia, and many other states.

The promised regulatory changes will help raise wage levels for Americans, Scalia said:

At the president’s direction, the Department of Labor will be reforming the H-1B visa program to protect American jobs and wages.  We are strengthening wage protections for American workers and putting an end to abuses of the program, such as when non-U.S. workers are hired by one company to displace U.S. workers at another company.

Scale’s op-ed said the new rules would include  loopholes — but suggested they would be narrow:

Sometimes circumstances will arise when a worker overseas is needed to fill a vital role, so the Proclamation provides narrow exceptions for visa entrants who would serve critical national interests like defense, law enforcement, maintaining the food supply, and providing medical care in response to COVID-19.

Similarly, foreign workers who are deemed necessary to the immediate and continued economic recovery may also be exempted. The Department of Labor will be working with the Departments of State and Homeland Security to establish exemption standards over the coming days.

Moreover, Scalia said the agency would step up enforcement of the laws and rules:

The Labor Department is also increasing its cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security to identify businesses that misuse the H-1B program to the detriment of American workers.  These reforms will help the program bring high-level talent to American businesses—and protect American workers—in the way Congress originally intended.

The visa-worker economy has expanded because lobbyists and legislators have created many loopholes — and have also fractured oversight authority among the departments of labor, state, justice, education, and homeland security.

This resulting complexity has allowed business groups and immigration lawyers to hide the scale of their white-collar jobs transfer, often by hiding data from the public and by suppressing media coverage of the outsourcing.

For example, there is minimal oversight over the use of B-1/B-2 visas to legally import illegal workers for short-term contracts. This B-1/B-2 inflow may be used to fill millions of jobs each year. Similarly, there is little oversight over the use of low-wage, “Optional Practical Training” work-permit workers to fill Fortune 500 contracting jobs.

The labor department does little to help India’s visa-workers expose fraud, discrimination, and corruption within U.S. workplaces. The department also has done little or nothing to enforce current rules that say visa workers must go home within 60 days of losing their jobs in the coronavirus crash.

But facing the 2020 election, Trump’s administration has released more data, blocked the H-1B inflow, promised many new regulations, and has — temporarily — rejected corporate lobbying.

However, Joe Biden has promised to end Trump’s curbs on visa workers.

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at


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