White House Posts H-1B Visa Reforms to Help American Graduates Get Good Jobs

President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Thursday, March 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Great Lakes
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The administration has announced reforms of the H-1B visa-worker program to help American graduates get many of the U.S. jobs that Fortune 500 CEOs are now giving to compliant and cheap foreign graduates.

“This is a truly huge announcement … with a tremendous positive impact for American workers and our economy,” said Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The regulations will be posted as soon as October 6 and will go into effect by October 8.

For example, officials said, the Labor Department will require H-1B workers to be paid at least 45 percent of the prevailing wage levels, sharply up from the 17 percent level in current rules.

The rule will also target the H-1B staffing industry, for example, by setting a one-year term for H-1Bs imported by staffing companies. “The vast majority will be rejected,” predicted one official.

The rule will largely implement President Donald Trump’s 2016 promise to “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program.”

The rule will be “effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.”

“The changes that go into effect immediately will ensure that U.S. companies will use H-1B workers to augment our domestic labor force, not replace it,” said a statement from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

“Millions of American workers who are in crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic applaud the changes being implemented by Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf,” stated Dan Stein, president of FAIR.

Nationwide, U.S. CEOs employ roughly 1.3 million foreign graduates in jobs needed by new American graduates and experienced U.S. professionals. Many of the foreign workers are compliant and cheap, in part, because they are hoping to get valuable green cards in exchange for the work. This “Green Card Economy” is expanding from software and science jobs into health care, accounting, and other careers, so crowding out Americans, reducing technical quality, and slowing technological innovation.

FAIR said the rules being posted by the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security include:

A redefinition of “specialty occupation” that will ensure that H-1B workers who are admitted possess unique skills and qualifications that are not readily replicated by American workers.

Dramatically curtail the “body shop” business model under which foreign labor contractors snap up tens of thousands of H-1B visas and then subcontract those workers to American employers. Under the new rules, U.S. employers will have to petition for workers directly and demonstrate that there is an actual job that requires a uniquely qualified foreign worker.

Enhancing scrutiny of companies employing H-1B workers to ensure that guest workers are filling the roles for which they were petitioned. In addition, employers found to be abusing the program could be fined or barred from participation.

Implement needed increases to the “prevailing wage” levels, making it more difficult for companies to undercut American workers.

It is not clear if President Trump will ignore corporate opposition and use the new rules to campaign for more white-collar votes in swing states, such as Pennsylvania. Breitbart News wrote September 28:

The Vanguard Group’s outsourcing of 1,300 Pennsylvania white-collar jobs to Indian H-1B workers has given a huge opportunity to President Donald Trump in the key swing state, says a series of activists and consultants.

“Most voters vote their pocketbook, and if one candidate is going to protect their jobs and the other is going to give them away, that strategy seems pretty obvious to me,” said Rosemary Jenks, policy director at NumbersUSA. “It would make sense for him to go there and talk about that.”

Trump already blocked the outsourcing of at least 200 Americans’ jobs at the Tennessee Valley Authority in a dramatic August meeting at the White House, said Kevin Lynn, the director of U.S. Tech Workers. So the American professionals threatened by Vanguard’ outsourcing can and must “come together and work collectively,” he said, adding:

“No-one is looking out for them right now. Not the executives — they’ve got their golden parachutes. No-one is going to look out for them. They have to learn how to work together so they can bring attention to their job losses.”

Business groups will strongly oppose the new rules, in large part, because they force CEOs to hire outspoken American professionals instead of quiet and compliant foreign workers. The business groups have filed many lawsuits against Trump’s various reforms, including Trump’s June 22 decision to temporarily bar the inflow of H-1B, L-1, and J-1 visa workers.

The rules do not constrict the use of H-1Bs by elite firms, most of whom pay their imported H-1B workers at higher wages. Many of the elite firms prefer to hire compliant migrant workers for lower-skill tasks, to help reduce corporate reliance on innovative, mobile, and outspoken American graduates.

“FAIR issued a detailed report laying out needed reforms to guest worker programs and the immigration system as a whole. In fact, the Immigration Reform Blueprint for the American Worker explicitly called for the policy changes being promulgated today,” Stein said.

The Expanding Green Card Economy:

A growing number of visa workers have been imported since 1990 to take the jobs needed by U.S. graduates, via the various H-1B, L-1, J-1, and other worker pipelines.

Most foreign workers were imported for short-term training or lower-tier and routine software jobs. But an increasing number are being imported for coastal jobs in science, health care, management, accounting, recruiting, marketing, and other white-collar jobs.

The foreign graduates accepted the lower-wage job offers from many Fortune 500 companies in expectation of getting green cards from the employers.

Most of the imported workers are Indians because India’s government works with U.S. investors to exploit the huge wage difference between the United States and India.

But the corporate executives promised far more green cards to Indian recruits than the roughly 23,000 cards allowed per year by the federal government. So the gap between the executives’ promises and the annual supply of green cards for Indians has accumulated to create a massive backlog of roughly 350,000 indentured, compliant Indian workers (plus 350,000 spouses and older children) who are choosing to wait many years for their promised cards.

This multi-year Indian green card backlog is also a huge problem for the Fortune 500 companies and India’s economic strategy because it greatly hinders their ability to recruit another wave of Indian workers.

There is no limit to the number of foreigners who can temporarily get white-collar jobs in the United States.

The door is held open by administrators at U.S. colleges. They have the power to sign the enrollment documents needed by foreigners to get work permits via the government’s Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs. The two work permit programs were largely created and expanded by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with no approval from Congress.

Some of those CPT and OPT graduates are hired directly by Fortune 500 companies, but many get jobs in large or small staffing companies that provide gig workers for jobs outsourced by the C-suites of Fortune 500 companies. Indian migrants tell Breitbart News that many subcontractors hire OPTs and CPTs — as well as overstay illegal aliens — to fill the outsourced Fortune 500 jobs.

These migrant gig workers often work for sub-minimum wages because they hope to eventually win the green cards dangled by Congress and employers.

This Green Card Economy includes at least 1.3 million foreign graduates who arrived via the H-1B, J-1, L-1, Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT), or H4EAD workforce pipelines. For example, the H-1B program includes at least 600,000 workers; the H4EAD program includes at least 100,000 workers, while the OPT and CPT programs keep at least 400,000 foreign workers in U.S. white-collar and technology jobs.

In contrast, roughly 800,000 Americans graduate each year from four-year colleges with skilled degrees in health care, engineering, business, math, science, software, or architecture. Many skilled American graduates are forced into other careers — despite college debts — because U.S. executives prefer to hire less-proficient visa workers for starter jobs.

The presence of these many legal and illegal foreign workers ensures a loose labor market in which Fortune 500 employers never have to compete against each other for U.S. graduates, for example, by offering full-time employment, benefits, and decent wages.

Many CEOs also prefer visa workers because they are disposable and subservient. For example, the workers are employed and swapped by a dizzying variety of subcontractors who can move blocs of labor from one city to the next, to fill short term contracts, with little notice or compensation to the disposable workers.

In contrast, American professionals speak their minds, push for high-quality products, ask for higher wages, change employers, collaborate to develop innovative products, complain about workplace discrimination, sue their employers, and testify in court. This professional pressure on executives spurs innovation and quality gains, U.S. experts and managers tell Breitbart News. But corporate executives are rewarded for raising near-term stock values, not for developing new and better technology.

Once executives get comfortable with compliant visa workers, innovation declines because American professionals are “supposed to answer in a very subservient way,” Mary from central New Jersey, a foreign-born software expert, told Breitbart News.

She added, “I would tell [the female executive] professionally what the issue was, and she didn’t like that. You can’t oppose her in any way. If she tells you, ‘It is black,’ it has to be black even if it is white. [The Indian contractors] will feed her what she wants to hear. … They cater specifically to that [attitude]. When the information given to that manager is wrong, and that manager does not care, the professionalism of the field is gone.”

Most of these green card workers are also part of the U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy. The outsourcing economy allows U.S. investors to boost stock values by hiring blocs of cheap Indian graduates for U.S. jobs. It also allows investors to transfer jobs to India by first importing Indians to get trained by the Americans who are getting replaced. It also funds India’s economic growth and appetite for American imports.

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