Donald Trump’s Visa Worker Reforms: ‘Tip of the Iceberg’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters on the South Lawn before boarding Marine One and departing the White House, on July 9, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is heading to Brussels for the NATO Summit. (Photo by Al Drago/Getty Images)
Al Drago/Getty

President Donald Trump’s decision on August 3 to block H-1B outsourcing contractors at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is just part of an ambitious agenda for the rest of the year, insiders tell Breitbart News.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Jay Palmer, a former tech professional and whistleblower in the H-1B outsourcing business.

“President Trump is going to remove all H-1B workers and all H-1B dependent companies from doing business with the United States government,” said Palmer, who helped federal officials win a $34 million legal settlement in 2013 with a major Indian-run H-1B staffing company, Infosys.

“He’s keeping his promise to American workers,” Palmer told Breitbart News.

One part of Trump’s emerging agenda was revealed during his meeting with TVA workers when Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia promised to extend safeguards from few U.S. employees at the staffing companies that import H-1B workers out to the many U.S. employees at the many Fortune 500 companies that lease the H-1Bs instead of hiring Americans.

The weak protections are included in the Labor Condition Application, which companies must file when they ask for an H-1B visa to import a foreign worker. The LCA document says the staffing companies will not fire one of its employees when it imports the H-1B worker.

But the Fortune 500 companies that lease the H-1B workers from the importing companies are not required to file an LCA document, bypassing entirely the weak protections for American workers.

Scalia told Trump:

I took a look at this, as your Labor Secretary, recently, and I said to my staff, “Well, if the workers are going to the other company, why doesn’t the other company, where they’re actually going to be working and supervised, also file an application?” … and say [in an LCA], ‘We’re not going to affect U.S. workers either.’”  And I said to staff, “Why can’t we do that?”  They looked into it.  And, Mr. President, today, you’re going be signing an order that requires that change.

“Good,” Trump said in response.

The double-LCA policy could drastically shrink the staffing side of the H-1B business, much of which is run by the U.S. and Indian firms that are members of the India-based NASSCOM trade association. The association, backed by the Indian government and many U.S. investors, will lobby hard against Scalia’s rule — and will sue the agency to stop the rule.

Scalia also said he would ramp up federal oversight over the H-1B companies:

For more than 15 years, the Secretary of Labor has had the authority to initiate an investigation of abuse of H1-B program when he or she finds reasonable cause. That has never been done. That authority has never been used. But again, we signed a memo of understanding on Friday with the Department of Homeland Security that’ll change that too. They’re going to now share information they have, which I can then use to bring cases.

“The current level of enforcement is basically no enforcement,” said John Miano, a lawyer with the Immigration Reform Law Institute. “It is all up to the administration to see how aggressively they take it,” he told Breitbart News.

The staffing companies targeted by Scalia include many large and very many small companies. They employ a huge share of the 600,000-plus resident H-1B workers and also generate many charges of discrimination against Americans. Many elite U.S. companies both hire their own H-1B workers and lease more H-1Bs from staffing companies. This massive outsourcing leaves many companies with a thin layer of American executives overseeing a workforce of compliant visa workers.

This reform agenda rolled out by Trump and his deputies will likely help sway swing-voting college-graduate professionals towards Trump.

The establishment media — such a Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post — rarely talks about the H-1B program. But the coronavirus crash has forced tech workers to recognize the growing impact of outsourcing through their profession.

Trump’s August 3 announcement was welcomed by many U.S. professionals. Numerous polls showed that Americans — including liberal, suburban women — want to like immigrants, but strongly demand that companies hire Americans before importing more workers to take the jobs needed by their spouses, college-graduate children, siblings, and friends.

On the campaign trail in March 2016, Trump said, “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.”

In his 2017 inauguration address, Trump promised a policy of “Buy American and hire American.”

On June 22, after months of lobbying by groups of U.S. graduates, Trump announced a temporary halt to the H-1B inflow and directed his deputies to rewrite regulations on the Fortune 500’s use of foreign contract workers. The data show that federal, state, and local governments employ at least 18,000 H-1B workers.

In July, Trump’s deputies announced an ambitious regulatory agenda for the fall. The promised regulations would curb the inflow of visa workers in various ways and would even impact the universities’ “Practical Training” programs.

The Executive Order signed by Trump directs additional actions for completion in the next few months. For example, the document says:

It is the policy of the executive branch to create opportunities for United States workers to compete for jobs, including jobs created through Federal contracts.

The head of each agency shall, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Personnel Management, review the employment policies of the agency to assess the agency’s compliance with Executive Order 11935 of September 2, 1976 (Citizenship Requirements for Federal Employment), and section 704 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, Public Law 116-93.

Within 45 days of the date of this order, the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security shall take action, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to protect United States workers from any adverse effects on wages and working conditions caused by the employment of H-1B visa holders at job sites (including third-party job sites), including measures to ensure that all employers of H-1B visa holders, including secondary employers, adhere to the requirements of section 212(n)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(1)).

In a press conference later on August 3, Trump said he would introduce a merit-based immigration bill in September. “Next month, we’ll be doing the immigration plan. So we’ll be doing that in September,” he said.

The government’s data about the open and surreptitious hiring of H-1B workers, and the workers’ location and skill levels, is tracked by tech professionals.

Prestigious firms hire some of the H-1B contract workers at U.S. wages. But many visa workers are employed by subcontractors at below-market wages, and many are hired as gig workers for minimal wages.

Many executives prefer hiring contract workers because they are compliant and quiet compared to U.S. professionals who can argue with executives and switch jobs.

In exchange for $40 billion in tuition fees each year, the nation’s universities help get “Practical Training” work permits for 500,000 foreign graduates. These workers are not legally classified as workers, so they are exempt from the LCA process, do not have to be paid minimum wages, and are widely used by Fortune 500 subcontractors.

Currently, Fortune 500 companies keep at least 1.3 million foreign contract workers in jobs needed by U.S. graduates, including at least 600,000 H-1B workers. This personnel policy is not an “abuse” of the law because the law was carefully drafted to help companies sideline American workers.

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at NMunro@Breitbart.com.

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