EAGLE Act Spikes China’s Visa-Worker Spying

Staff at work in the Boatsetter office, a South Florida based boat-renting tech company on

The House Democrats’ EAGLE Act would pressure U.S. companies to hire more visa workers from China, so helping China’s government to steal more technology from leading U.S. companies.

“There’s no question that we’ll get a whole lot more foreign workers into U.S. jobs via the EAGLE Act, and that a huge percentage of Chinese nationals report back to the Communist Party of China,” said Rosemary Jenks, government affairs director at NumbersUSA.

The middle-class career outsourcing bill is slated for a vote this afternoon in the House, amid tepid and unorganized opposition by the investor-backed GOP.

The Democrats’ last-minute amendment to shield Chinese workers from China’s Communist Party cannot work, she said, because:

We have seen that the Chinese government has a very long reach, and if someone comes to the United States as a foreign worker from China and still has a family based in China, then the Chinese government has control over them because they will use the family as leverage. So there’s just no question that it is a huge mistake to continue allowing Chinese nationals to work in our high-tech sector, to have access to technological secrets, and the EAGLES Act just doubles down on that.

The EAGLE Act is being pushed by West Coast tech investors and executives who are trying to spike short-term stock prices.

The act would turbocharge the Fortune 500 practice of annually recruiting more than 200,000 foreign college graduates — mostly from India and China —for the white-collar careers that are needed by young American graduates. Indians are mostly hired by technology subcontractors for mid-skill jobs, but the Chinese are often imported for high-end research and banking jobs.

These foreign graduates take U.S. jobs via the uncapped H-1B, L-1, and OPT programs. Each year, roughly 70,000 are given the deferred bonus of green cards by U.S. executives as compensation for a decade of subservient labor. Roughly 1.5 million foreign college graduates now hold indentured-service jobs.

But Section 7 of the EAGLE Act also allows U.S.-based employers to quickly trade the huge prize of lifetime U.S. work permits to foreign workers in exchange for several years of cut-rate blue-collar or white-collar service.

This fast-track, government-granted Section 7 bonus, if made law, would pressure U.S. companies to replace Americans with many more lower-wage foreign workers to keep their wages and profit margins at levels demanded by Wall Street’s stock pickers.

Section 7 of the bill “is an end-run around the annual green card limit,” Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI) told the House Committee on Rules on December 5. He added:

The result is that many temporary visas will essentially become permanent because the alien visa holders will be able to live and work in the U.S. as if they had a green card. Of course, this will further strangle the ability of Americans to get good-paying jobs in tech and other sectors.

Meanwhile, federal officials have been battling a rising wave of technology thefts by Chinese workers and graduates in the United States.

“The best estimates that I’ve seen from private entities put the damage to the U.S. economy from IP [intellectual property] theft somewhere between $450 [billion] and $850  [billion] per annum,” FBI agent Nicholas Shankin told the Financial Times in April 2022. I can tell you that a very, very significant percentage of that is coming out of Silicon Valley. He continued:

We think that we’re dealing with [an Chinese employee or business partners] who may be perfectly honest and decent as human beings or as whatever entity it may be, but they are subject to [Chinese] laws that force them to steal from that U.S. company or that U.S. party or U.S. university.

The theft is encouraged by China’s central government, but also by cities and states within China that are trying to boost their local development.

“The ‘Thousand Talents’ programme is one of, I think, at least 200 talent acquisition programmes that they have, in which they are trying to recruit Americans and others to come to China,” Michael Orlando, then the acting director of America’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center, told the Financial Times.

“The FBI does an excellent job in countering insider threat and the cyber problem — but when you pivot over to those legal [spying] techniques, the tools that the FBI and others have don’t really match up,” Orlando added.

In September 2020, the Department of Justice won a short 18-month jail sentence against a Chinese 2006 graduate of the University of Southern California:

 In 2006, [Hao] Zhang had graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and taken a job at Skyworks [a high-tech manufacturer in several states] while co-conspirator Wei Pang started working at Avago [now part of Broadcom].  Zhang and Pang illicitly shared trade secrets with each other and with co-conspirators in China while they worked for the U.S. companies … With guidance from [a Chinese university], the defendants filed Chinese patent requests and created a shell company in the Cayman Islands they called Novana … Along the way, Zhang also obtained U.S. patents in his own name using trade secret information he knew was stolen from Avago.

“My main concern is that time is not on our side and that we really need as a whole of government, whole society, to get on the same page to recognise the threat and work together,” Orlando told the Financial Times. “If we aren’t able to pick up the pace, then the Chinese government will outpace us.”

Despite CEO claims of worker shortages, companies are laying off hundreds of thousands of U.S. tech workers, and millions of trained Americans have been denied even starter jobs. A 2021 study by the Census Bureau reported massive underemployment among U.S. graduates amid the replacement-level inflow of visa workers:

The vast majority (62%) of [American] college-educated workers who majored in a STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] field were employed in non-STEM fields such as non-STEM management, law, education, social work, accounting or counseling. In addition, 10% of STEM college graduates worked in STEM-related occupations such as health care.

The pre-inflation salaries in the tech sector rose from $78,845 in 2009 to  $93,244 in 2018 and $104,566 in 2021. But that shows a slight decline of 0.3 percent according to the inflation calculator offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As tech salaries stalled, tech investors gained trillions of dollars in extra value from escalating profits and stock prices.

“So if we want to continue to lose our technological advantage to China, then go ahead and vote for the EAGLE Act,” Jenks said. “If we want to be competitive, then the EAGLE Act should not be approved.”

She added:

I think the vast majority of Republicans will vote against it and the vast majority of Democrats will vote for it. But there are definitely Republicans who say they’re a yes vote including the incoming whip [Minnesota Rep.] Tom Emmer. And there are some Democrats who have said that they oppose it for the wrong reasons, but they oppose it.

“If the bill comes to the floor tomorrow, which is expected, it will be because Democratic leadership believes that there are enough Republicans to make up for any Democrat losses,” Jenks said.


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