Donald Trump has doubled down on his pledge to crack down on H-1B visa abuses and aligned himself with perhaps the most popular politician in all of Iowa, Senator Chuck Grassley.
The H-1B visa allows companies to replace American tech workers with foreign workers who will accept lower salaries. Some have described the H-1B visa as a form of “indentured servitude” against which no American worker can fairly compete.
A Trump campaign aide told Breitbart News: “The H-1B program should not be abused to replace the American worker–just as people like Senator Chuck Grassley and others have argued.”
Grassley, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has led the effort to reform the H-1B visa program to better protect American workers who are routinely forced out of their jobs in place of less skilled foreign laborers. Grassley’s Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing on the topic after hundreds of workers at Southern California Edison were forced to train their less expensive foreign replacements.
As one of the victims said in anonymous testimony provided to the Committee: “As longtime employees we loved the work we were doing and the people we were working with. We did a great job… Through no fault of my own my job was just given to someone else with a lot less experience, knowledge and skills, lowering my standard of living and raising theirs so Edison could save a few dollars and reward stockholders with a few more pennies on their dividends… It’s as if we no longer matter or have value as human beings or American citizens.”
At the hearing, Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions — who has repeatedly delivered speeches calling out Zuckerberg, Gates, and others trying to expand the H-1B program — declared: “People aren’t commodities… We have no obligation to yield to the lust of big businesses.”
One of Trump’s opponents, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, is perhaps the Senate’s most enthusiastic booster of the low-wage visa, despite two recent high profile incidents in his own state where American workers were terminated and compelled to train the more inexperienced foreigner laborers brought in to take over their jobs at less pay. At Grassley’s hearing, Rutgers’ professor Hal Salzman said that Rubio’s I-squared bill would mean 100 percent of new tech jobs would go to foreign workers — even as U.S. schools churn out about half a million STEM grads each year.
In Trump’s policy document he pointed out that: “We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program.”
And in a new tweet today, Trump explained that his immigration proposal would, “transform [the H-1B] program so it delivers for country, not lobbyists & will have bipartisan support.” Trump then linked to a Breitbart News article citing UC Davis Professor Norm Matloff, a leading critic of the H-1B visa, and self-professed Democrat, who has painstakingly documented how the visa is used to replace American workers.
As Trump writes in his policy proposal, his H-1B plan would, “force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas.” Trump observes that, by contrast, Rubio’s plan would devastate groups of American workers: “Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.”
In a joint op-ed from five professors, all experts in the H-1B, they noted that “Companies are exploiting the large existing flow of guest workers to deny American workers access to STEM careers and the middle-class security that should come with them. Imagine, then, how many more Americans would be frozen out of the middle class if politicians and tech moguls succeeded in doubling or tripling the flow of guest workers into STEM occupations.”
Trump’s plan is directly responsive to that: “More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two.” What this means is that more than 80 percent of H-1b workers are paid less than the average wage, debunking the myth of H-1B workers as skilled workers. In effect, it is just a way for employers to fill entry-level positions at the lowest possible price.
Trump therefore proposes that “Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic, and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.”
Trump’s comment about the bipartisan support for the plan he outlined demonstrates that the old media’s narrative on Trump’s plan is entirely upside down. Trump’s plan appeals to all sides of the ideological spectrum. Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and many others have argued that we need to end the destruction of American tech careers by requiring employers to hire American first.