A prominent public policy professor said massive increases in guest-worker visas for some of the most prominent high-tech companies will only pull the ladder out from under Americans trying to move into the middle class.
On The Laura Ingraham Show Monday, Ron Hira, Howard University’s public policy professor, blasted high-tech companies and lobbies for claiming that there is a shortage of American workers, while companies like Microsoft are laying off 18,000 American workers.
“This is really important because the STEM degrees, information technology and engineering in particular, have been real pathways to the middle class,” he said. “It’s been a traditional path for working class kids to study. It’s a very meritocratic set of occupations, unlike some other areas. By cutting this off, we are cutting off that upward mobility to the middle class for so many of the working class kids.”
Ingraham has previously mentioned that illegal immigrants are taking construction work that used to be good-paying jobs for college kids and Americans trying to get into the middle class. In the white-collar world, massive increases in guest-worker visas are taking jobs away from Americans trying to move up the economic ladder.
Hira, on a conference call earlier this year, said that the IT sector had been “an area of social mobility.”
“You’ve got people who come from working-class backgrounds who go into these sectors,” Hira said. “It’s a way of getting into the middle class and the professional class, and that’s being cut off.”
FWD.us President Joe Green has suggested that foreign workers were “truly great,” while American workers are “just sort of okay.” Hira blasted Green’s assertion that high-tech companies need more guest-worker visas to attract the “best and the brightest,” noting that the “typical H-1B worker really has no more than ordinary skills and is willing to take lower wages.”
“It’s really about cheaper labor. That’s what’s going on. They’re trying to drive down wages. If anybody doubts that, just look at the lawsuit against many of the largest Silicon Valley firms where they had a wage fixing scheme,” Hira said, adding, “It’s all about keeping wages low” for the high-tech industry.
He also said it was “really dangerous to be stapling a green card to every Master’s graduate [diploma] in a STEM field” because that would give colleges incentives to be diploma factories for foreigners who want green cards.
“What that does is it basically puts universities as the gatekeepers for admission into the U.S. on permanent residence,” he asserted, “and they have a conflict of interest because they can make a lot of money basically selling green cards by setting up a Master’s program that is, say, 12 months.” He added that this approach will “attract a lot of students who are not coming for the education but are coming because they have a path to a green card.”