BOULDER, Colorado — Ahead of the CNBC GOP debate here Wednesday evening, two ex-Disney cast members displaced by foreigners brought into America on controversial H1B visas have spoken out in public for the first time.
David Powers and Leo Perrero came out in public for the first time in interviews with a local television station in Florida.
“Just months before the holidays and on the heels of a great performance review, no less. A VP invites David Powers and Leo Perrero into his office, both expecting pats on the back. Instead they hear the dreaded words: You are being laid off,” ABC 7’s Rebecca Vargas wrote from Orlando, Florida, before quoting both Powers and Perrero.
“When a guillotine falls down on you, in that moment you’re dead… and I was dead,” Powers said.
“I’m in the room with about two-dozen people, and very shortly thereafter an executive delivers the news that all of our jobs are ending in 90 days, and that we have 90 days to train our replacements then we won’t get a bonus that we’ve been offered,” Perrero added.
Their attorney, Sarasota-based employment lawyer Sara Blackwell, is quoted next.
“So many American workers, across the country, hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs because they’re being replaced by foreign workers,” Blackwell said, before adding: “H1B, when done properly, is a great avenue. The purpose of H1B is to bring in foreign workers, when there’s no qualified U.S. worker.”
There are about 800,000 H1B visa holders in the U.S. right now, according to Blackwell, and according to Vargas’ piece “They are meant to fill highly specialized positions for companies that are unable to find qualified Americans to fill those jobs.”
But when Disney lets go of more than 250 employees at once, something doesn’t add up… These highly specialized tech fields yield average salaries in the $100,000 range, but for the younger, foreign workers their median salary is about 62,000 — some even less, according to published reports. In response, Disney acknowledges it outsourced Powers’ and Perrero’s jobs to Indian workers, but Disney claims they’ve expanded and added jobs for U.S. IT workers.
Perrero is quoted again later in the piece saying that what Disney did—with the help of the U.S. government’s lax H1B immigration and visa policies—was awful.
“I felt extremely un-American,” Perrero said. “I felt like I was part of destroying our economy because I had to train a replacement that was going to come here, take my job and potentially take other people’s jobs.”
This is perhaps one of the most under-discussed issues in the 2016 GOP presidential primary election. Frontrunner Donald Trump’s immigration reform plan details exactly how he would fix this problem if he’s elected president.
He wants to “increase” the “prevailing wage for H-1Bs,” one subsection of his plan lays out.
Trump’s immigration reform plan reads:
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. 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. 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. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.
Trump also wants a “requirement to hire American workers first.”
“Too many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement,” the Trump plan continues. “In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS.”
Other candidates, like former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, have been strong like Trump on the issue. Huckabee has hammered the issue many times—even specifically calling out Disney for its practices—on the campaign trail and in interviews with Breitbart News. Santorum has as well, laying out on the trail how he wants a 25 percent reduction in legal immigration.
Other candidates, like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), especially because of his work on the Senate “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill last Congress, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), stand against American workers like Perrero and Powers with their policy positions of supporting an increase in H1B levels.
The issue very well could, sources with various campaigns tell Breitbart News, break out on the main stage of the debate this evening here in Boulder.
The local Florida outlet which broke the interviews with Perrero and Powers detailed just how far Rubio is out of step with Americans on this issue: Even his in-state Democratic colleague, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), stands with American workers against H1B increases.
“As for how our two Florida U.S. Senators think about the visas — their stances couldn’t be more different. While Senator Marco Rubio wants to expand the number of H1B visas, Senator Bill Nelson wants the program investigated,” Vargas wrote.
Previously, one displaced Disney cast member spoke out in a column for Breitbart News Network published back in early September. This scandal doesn’t seem to be going away, and only appears to be intensifying as the electoral season progresses.