DHS Prepares Plan to End Work Permits for Foreign H-1B Spouses

H-1B
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Officials at the Department of Homeland have drafted plans to end former President Barack Obama’s policy of awarding an extra work-visa to many H-1B guest workers.

The policy has delivered at least 78,000 extra H-4 work-permits to the spouses of foreign H-1B guest workers. Many of the spouses are white-collar graduates who compete for the jobs also sought by young American graduates. 

A regulation to end the H-4 giveaway is “on the table” an agency official told Breitbart News. If published in the federal register, it will be enforced after 60 days but likely will be tangled up in business-funded lawsuits. 

But the move — if implemented amid business hostility — would impact less than 10 percent of the roughly 1 million resident white-collar guest-workers. 

The giveaway was begun in January 2015 by officials working for former President Barack Obama, after public opposition blocked Obama’s business-boosting “Gang of Eight” amnesty-and-cheap-labor bill.

Immigration lawyers and business groups are already denouncing the proposed loss of imported white-collar workers, and are promising to block the pro-American regulation with lawsuits. 

Todd Schulte runs the FWD.US lobby group for Silicon Valley investors. His chief priority is raising the annual inflow of cheap white-collar guest-workers, so he opposes any actions which would reduce the extra supply of foreign workers for companies including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Amazon. 

The H-1B spouses are going to get green cards anyway, so there is no need for concern, says New York immigration lawyer Cyrus Mehta, who earns a living by importing foreign workers who lower wages awarded to Americans.

Any withdrawal of work-permits from H-1B spouse is racist, says Amy Siskind, a progressive activist.

The draft regulation was prepared by agency officials who are looking for ways to curb the huge H-1B program, which keeps roughly 550,000 foreign professionals in U.S.-based jobs. Most of the H-1B graduates work as lower-tier computer and software experts, but the program has also allowed Americans companies to hire hundreds of thousands of foreign non-tech workers, including foreign pharmacists, therapists, industrial designers, lawyers, editors, teachers, doctors, professors and lab technicians.  

In his inauguration speech, President Donald Trump promised a policy of “Buy American, Hire American.” But business lobbyists have strongly opposed any rollback of the guest-worker programs, and agency officials have not cut the size of the programs. Instead, they have added more paperwork and costs to the industry requests for H-1B and L-1 visas while administration officials argue over whether the H-1B, H-4 and OPT guest-worker programs should be reduced. 

Media reports about the H-1 program are usually inaccurate. Most reports echo industry claims that the program is capped at 85,000 new foreign workers per year. But each worker can stay for six years, and non-profits — such as universities and their business partners — are exempt from the cap and now employ roughly 100,000 H-1Bs in prestigious jobs. Federal officials have never provided a precise count of the number of resident H-1B, but estimates range from 450,000 to 950,000. The higher estimate includes people who arrived as H-1Bs but are now waiting for a green card.

Nearly all media reports are sympathetic towards foreigners and are dismissive about the impact on American graduates. For example, the San Francisco Chronicle centered its story about the issue around the preferences of H-1B spouses who knew about the pre-2015 no-work rule before they accompanied their husbands to the United States:

Several women interviewed for this article said they dreaded the thought of going back to forced unemployment. Some said living on one income in the exorbitantly expensive Bay Area would lead to financial struggles for their families. Before the work authorization, some women had gone back to school, volunteered or raised children, but others said they spent time mourning the life they once had, when they weren’t reliant on their husbands for money.

“I was depressed,” said Rashi Bhatnagar, who started a Facebook group called H-4 Visa, A Curse, that has nearly 18,000 followers. “No one will give me back those years.”

Also, the number of foreign children brought by H-1B workers to the United States is now so large that ethnic lobbies and progressives are now pushing Congress to grant green cards to the adult children of H1B workers who get green cards. The adult children describe themselves as “H4Dreamers.”

The H-1Bs are only part of a huge foreign workforce of roughly 1 million people with work-permits under the L visa, the OPT work permit, the TN free-trade document or the J-1 visa. That huge population is larger than the number of young Americans who graduate from college each year with degrees in business, accounting, science, software, statistics, architecture, biology, medicine, and engineering.

Business leaders strongly support the visa programs, partly because any reduced inflow of foreign workers will create a tight labor market for American white-collar workers. A tight labor market will force up salaries — and so reduce profits, stock market values, investor payouts, and even CEO bonuses. 

Foreign workers are willing to accept lower salaries partly because almost any job gives them a chance of winning a deferred green-card bonus from the federal government. That bonus is extremely valuable because each green card provides a path to citizenship for themselves, their parents, all their descendants, plus many chain-migration relatives and their children. In effect, the H-1B program allows CEOs to hire cheap foreigners by paying them with taxpayer-funded green cards.

The H-1B program is unpopular with Americans. For example, an August poll by America First Policies showed that 71 percent of Americans want to ensure “that companies offer open jobs to Americans before foreign workers.” Similarly, 68 percent opposed and 21 percent approved companies use of more white-collar H-1B visa-workers. The survey asked:

H-1B visas are used by employers to hire foreign workers in jobs in Science and Technology fields, often at lower pay than Americans. Would you support or oppose increasing the amount companies must pay H-1B workers to encourage them to employ more American workers?

The cross-tabs show that 36 percent of Americans strongly supported the proposal to raise pay for H-1Bs to encourage more hiring Americans, while only 8 percent strongly opposed the proposal.

Each year, four million Americans turn 18 each year and begin looking for good jobs in the free market.

But the federal government inflates the supply of new labor by annually accepting 1 million new legal immigrants, by providing almost 2 million work-permits to foreigners, by providing work-visas to roughly 500,000 temporary workers and doing little to block the employment of roughly 8 million illegal immigrants.

The Washington-imposed economic policy of mass-immigration floods the market with foreign labor and spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor offered by blue-collar and white-collar employees. It also drives up real estate priceswidens wealth-gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, hurts kids’ schools and college education, pushes Americans away from high-tech careers, and sidelines at least 5 million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with opioid addictions.

To read more about H-1Bs, click here.

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