Fortune 500 Lobby Tells Trump: Your Visa Worker Curbs May Cause Discrimination

Indian Workers Manish SwarupAP
Manish Swarup/AP

Even brief and temporary curbs on the use of imported contract workers may cause discrimination against “our personnel based on country of birth,” according to a letter sent by Fortune 500 lobbyists to President Donald Trump.

The letter was sent to warn Trump as he pushes forward with plans announced on April 22 to review the various visa programs. The programs provide a growing army of foreign contract workers to Fortune 500 firms, despite the coronavirus crash that is causing mass unemployment among swing-voting U.S. graduates.

The letter, signed by Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and many other companies, says:

We urge you to avoid outcomes, even for temporary periods, that restrict employment-authorization terms, conditions, or processing of L-1, H-1B, F-1, or H-4 [visa worker] nonimmigrants. Constraints on our human capital are likely to result in unintended consequences and may cause substantial economic uncertainty if we have to recalibrate our personnel based on country of birth.

Immigration reformers scoffed at the lobbyists’ hand-wringing.

“The ‘unintended consequences’ these cheap labor advocates fear if guest worker visas are curtailed are having to hire American workers at livable wages,” said Rosemary Jenks, government relations chief at NumbersUSA. Her group favors a national policy of lower immigration and higher wages

Livable wages are “a consequence we should not only support but demand,” she added.

“Every piece of data the government collects …. [show]  there are massive numbers of native-born Americans and legal immigrants already here not working,” said Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies.

“Those out of work are of every type, from high school dropouts to the most educated.  President Trump has an obligation to do everything he can to help out of work Americans get jobs, including significantly reducing the flow of foreign workers into the country,” he said.

Trump’s April 22 announcement is giving Trump another opportunity to fulfill his March 2016 campaign trail promise: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

That promise helped Trump win many votes from swing-voting graduates. But Trump and his deputies have ignored that 2016 promise since his Inauguration day promise of “Hire American.”

This failure to curb the huge white-collar labor inflow came as Trump successfully stopped the flood of blue-collar migrants coming over the southern border, despite furious and emotional opposition from allied Democrats, progressives, and business groups. Trump’s border policies successfully pushed up blue-collar salaries, but white-collar salaries stalled as companies imported more foreign contract workers.

U.S. grassroots activists — and some GOP politicians — are increasingly protesting the visa worker programs, which transfer good jobs from Americans to foreign graduates. Amid the economic meltdown, several polls show the public strongly supports a job-for-Americans policy.

The May 21 response from the Fortune 500 companies includes an appendix that lists a series of economic studies to justify their reliance on imported labor. But most of the studies were conducted before China’s Wuhan virus crashed the U.S. economy and threw millions of swing voting U.S. graduates into the unemployment lines.

Breitbart has reported on some of the business-funded studies, nearly all of which promise faster economic growth for investors while ignoring the issue of Americans’ replacement, productivity, anti-American discrimination, and average income.

Fortune 500 companies use many visa programs to keep an army of roughly 1.3 million white-collar foreign employees in a wide variety of U.S. jobs, including many starter jobs in third-tier subcontractors. These foreign employees accept lower wages and tough conditions in hope of winning the deferred bonus of green cards and citizenship for themselves and their descendants.

Roughly 750,000 foreigners — mostly Indians — are imported via the white-collar H-1B program. Another army of up to 500,000 foreign graduates is imported via U.S. universities under the Optional Practical Training and Curricular Practical Training programs. The J-1, L-1, TN, and H4EAD programs add hundreds of thousands of additional foreign employees.

Also, a growing number of foreign graduates are smuggled into U.S. office parks via fraud in the B-1, OPT, and H-1B programs, but few violators are penalized. “It happens all the time,” said Virkan from Texas, a former H-1B who described how major U.S. companies ignore large-scale fraud in the visa worker subcontracting process. The fraud diverts salaries slated for H-1B and OPT workers to the Indian owners of interlocking subcontracting firms, many of whom are based in Texas, he said. The money is hidden from investigators by passing it through families in India, said Vikram, who is now a citizen.


Amid the inflow, American graduates are increasingly being sidelined as U.S. executives hire and fire blocs of subcontracted visa workers, usually without complaint from the foreign worker or even notice by progressive reporters.

The visa workers are edging out Americans as they fill up starter jobs, mid-career jobs, and increasingly, in executive jobs — despite the growing list of corporate failures caused by the U.S. executives’ preference for outsourcing their workforces.

The imported contract workers also allow coastal investors and companies to ignore the growing number of trained U.S. graduates in lower-wage heartland states.

This gradual replacement of the U.S. professional class is masked behind a maze of complex contracts and by agency curbs on information — although U.S. graduates are increasingly mobilizing to protect their economic interests — and that of their children.

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


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