Donald Trump Reacts to Grassroots Campaign Against H-1B Program

AP Mark J Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

President Donald Trump distanced himself late Thursday night from Jeff Lyash, his appointee running the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), who is now using H-1B outsourcing to discard American professionals even as Trump tries to revive his poll numbers.

The TVA is a government-created corporation, which operates a network of power stations and dams created during the 1930s depression. The top executive is picked by the president and is reportedly paid $8 million. The executive’s contract and salary are approved by a board. For many years, the low-profile, high-salary job has been a lucrative opportunity for politically connected people.

Trump was likely reacting to this hard-hitting ad from the U.S. Tech Worker’s group, an advocacy group that champions American tech workers:

The grassroots group responded to Trump by reminding him of his 2017 promise to “Buy American, Hire American”:

Sticks and stones … but you ran on America First: Buy American HIRE American. We hired you to protect American jobs. There’s 200 American tech workers about to lose their jobs at the TVA & only you can stop that from happening. No other president would save these jobs.

The group is running a political campaign to highlight the TVA’s decision to transfer roughly 200 jobs from Americans to foreign contractors hired via the H-1B program:

The H-1B keeps approximately 600,000 foreign graduates in U.S. jobs, according to a government estimate.

On June 22, Trump took a big step towards reform by blocking the inflow of H-1B workers in 2020. He also directed his deputies to draft regulations that would pressure companies to only hire high-wage H-1Bs.

Many of the 600,000 foreign graduates fill ordinary software maintenance and upgrade jobs that unemployed American experts or new American graduates can perform.

Some of the H-1B workers are learning the jobs so they can export them back to their home countries.

In Silicon Valley, the “employers love Indians on H-1Bs because employers can then keep those employees as an indentured slave,” said a former Indian H-1B, who is now a citizen. “It’s a high-tech slavery.”

“Eighty percent … of the work done by [H-1Bs at] big companies, like Facebook, Google, or Qualcomm, Amazon, is so-called grunge technical work,” he continued. “You don’t really need a lot of creativity. What you need is a flood of some technical expertise along with long hours.”

Fortune 500 companies and investors have fiercely defended the program, which allows them to import a cheap and compliant workforce. But that policy undermines American innovation by denying careers to ambitious American professionals:

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