‘Betrayal’: College-Grad Voters Slam Trump’s Support for H-1B Outsourcing Program

H-1B
AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

President Donald Trump’s tweeted support for foreign H-1B outsourcing workers is a betrayal of his American supporters, say U.S. college graduates who are losing jobs to a huge wave of cheap visa-workers.

“After I got up from the floor. I felt so sick, it was like somebody died,” said Dawn Casey, one of the leaders at Protect U.S. Workers group which wants to curb the H-1B outsourcing program. 

The H-1B tweet is politically dangerous for Trump because it threatens Casey and other suburban voters. They are critical to the 2020 campaign because top GOP leaders admit Democrats won the November 2018 campaign largely by raising their support among suburban swing-voting college graduates.

Trump tweeted:

During the 2016 campaign, Casey personally handed a Trump a letter asking for reforms to the H-1B program:

Trump subsequently promised to curb — but not eliminate — the H-1B visa program, saying in March 2016, “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”

There is no rule which requires companies to hire — or even interview — Americans before hiring cheaper H-1B workers.

Casey’s Protect U.S. Workers group protested the tweet, saying, “President Trump’s messaging is NOT America First with that recent tweet. If the President does not reverse his course on this, we are afraid he will lose his re-election.”

Casey is an experienced software expert but has been pushed out of jobs — and denied jobs — when employers replace Americans with cheaper visa-workers. In June 2018, Casey spoke at a pro-American protest outside the White House:

Her group is next planning a January 26 protest in Connecticut against outsourcing to visa workers:

But the precise meaning of Trump’s January 11 tweet is unclear, partly because business groups are pushing several plans to expand the inflow number of H-1B and other guest-workers into college graduate jobs.

The 650,000 H-1B workers in the United States are just part of the 1.5 million visa workers in the United States.

Many famous U.S. companies, universities and hospitals hire visa workers in place of willing and able American graduates.

Many additional white-collar jobs are subcontracted to foreign-run staffing firms which keep a huge pool of Indian, Chinese and Filipino college-graduate visa workers in the U.S. labor market. When a U.S. company announces a job opening, the company’s managers and subcontractors have a huge financial incentive to steer the job — legally or not — to a visa-worker at one of the many staffing companies.

This rent-instead-of-hire process creates an invisible barrier which is blocking many U.S. graduates from getting starter jobs in the technology and accounting sectors. Without good starter jobs, many American graduates flood into other sectors, such as journalism, teaching, law or sales.

The process also slams many mid-career Americans who are paid higher salaries because of their experience — and because they need the money to raise their children.

The 1.5 million visa workers are brought into the United States via the H-1B, OPT, CPT, O-1, L-1, H4EAD, TN, E-3, and J-1 visa programs. Roughly 70 percent of the visa workers are from India.

GOP legislators strongly back the visa-worker programs because of donor pressure. In contrast, Democrats condition their support of the visa programs on the CEOs’ support of various amnesty bills and immigration programs.

The visa-worker programs are largely ignored by the media, but polls show the public strongly opposes visa programs which allow companies to sideline Americans by importing foreign workers.

Casey’s group is concerned that Trump plans to revive a 2018 plan by GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder to accelerate the inflow of Indian college graduates into the U.S. economy. The “country caps” plan was opposed by the Department of Homeland Security and was dropped by GOP leaders in November once Yoder lost his Kansas seat in a district with many college graduates. Casey’s group helped defeat Yoder’s plan, but it may return with support from Trump, said Casey, adding I thought we killed it.”

Business groups also want Trump to double the award of green-cards to their foreign employees by changing agency rules so that spouses and children of workers are not counted against the annual cap of 140,000 employer-sponsored green cards. The employer-sponsored green cards are a huge part of the visa-worker industry because they allow CEOs to grant the hugely valuable deferred-bonus of citizenship to visa workers who work for many years at low pay.

Trump is under rising pressure from U.S. business groups to raise the inflow of foreign workers partly because salaries are rising. The rising salaries reduce the profits which spike investors’ stock prices. For example, the NASDAQ 100 stock index of technology companies has fallen from 7,600 in September 2018 to 6,600 in mid-January 2019. 

Trump is broadly sympathetic to companies’ claim that they need to hire top-ranking foreign workers. “I get calls from the great tech companies and they’re saying we don’t allow people at the top of their class at the best schools in the country, we don’t allow them to stay in our country,” he told reporters in January. 

In practice, the vast majority of the visa workers arrive as inexperienced and cheap graduates, and many are taught on-the-job skills by the experienced Americans who are being fired to open up jobs for the visa workers. For example, federal data shows that roughly 80 percent of H-1B workers are paid far below average American salaries. 

Some reports suggest Trump’s comment is merely intended to tout the minor reforms being adopted by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division. The agency’s various reforms simplify companies’ application process for extra workers but also try to curb fraud in the fraud-ridden program, and also try to nudge up wages for foreign workers.

The division also says it has plans to end the H4EAD program created by former President Barack Obama. In 2015, the division began granting “H4EAD” work permits to 100,000 spouses of H-1B workers, even though the federal statute does not allow H-1B spouses to get work permits. But Trump’s deputies have yet to actually cancel the program, two years after Trump’s “Hire American” inauguration speech.

Casey says she is hoping Trump’s Tweet shows the glass is half full.

Trump likely posted the Tweet to gauge voter opposition to another visa giveaway, she said. “After I took the knife out of my back, I said if he was going to do it, he would have done it already,” she said. “He’s waiting for a backlash.”

The statement from Casey’s Protect U.S. Workers group is more pessimistic:

Protect U.S. Workers was really disappointed with President Trump’s tweet, whereby he showed his support for the insidious H1B visa program, that has cost many American Workers in the tech sector, their jobs.

It seems that the President has fallen victim to the lies that the tech industry is telling him that there is a shortage of so-called ‘high-skilled’ workers. If there indeed was a shortage, then the H-1B visa program would NOT be used to bring ‘high-skilled’ workers from just one country, India, nor would the average salaries of those H-1B visa workers fall under the low end entry level pay. Neither would you continue to hear stories of mass layoffs of American workers at companies like Disney, Southern Edison, Verizon, Intel, Cisco, to name a few, where not only were Americans laid off, but they were forced to train their foreign H-1B replacements.

As a group of American workers who have been displaced from their jobs and campaigned for President Trump, and his Hire American Buy American policy, we are very disappointed with the approach he is taking by rewarding the H-1B visa abusers.

We will not support the President if he continues to side with the H-1B foreign workers and the big corporations. It seems the game the President is playing now is that of ‘illegals bad, legal good’. This is not what the American voters voted for.

Voters want BOTH legal and illegal immigration to be tackled that closes all the loopholes in our broken and outdated immigration system, and a program that protects American workers first.

President Trump’s messaging is NOT America First with that recent tweet. If the President does not reverse his course on this, we are afraid he will lose his re-election.

Several members of the group, including Casey, appeared in an episode of 60 Minutes in March 2017. The show focused on Disney’s use of the H-1B program to have Americans train the outsourcing workers to take their jobs.

The responses to Trump’s Tweet highlight the political risks of flip-flopping on H-1Bs before 2020. Many worried Americans graduates denounced or raged at Trump’s Tweet:

In contrast, many of the likes on Trump’s Tweet were posted by visa workers who are seeking a fast track to citizenship. They are not citizens and cannot vote — but the available data show that the vast majority of Indian migrants support Democrats once they become citizens.

Trump’s Tweet was touted by several pro-migration groups, including the head of an Indian-run advocacy group, the Republican Hindu Coalition.

Casey responded to the Kumar Tweet, saying “HUGE BETRAYAL TO ALL AMERICAN WORKERS!”

The group’s website says it includes many members from the Telegu-language region in India and says one of its goals is to spur business development in India:

RHC members, with a significant number from the Telugu American community in the US, have a keen interest in supporting and investing in PM Modi’s “Make in India” and CM Naidu’s vision to make Andhra Pradesh to be one of the most developed and prosperous states in India. RHC members propose to partner with CM Naidu to create a new Export City that would the San Jose of India, shipping over $50 Billion dollars a year to US, $50 Billion per year to EU and also saving $30 Billion per year in imports of electronic goods from China. The new City will be built in phases and have a population of three million people.

Another group supporting Indian migration, GCReforms, endorsed Trump’s Tweet:

The Tweet was praised by another group of visa-workers, dubbed Skilled Immigrants In America:

Nationwide, the U.S. establishment’s economic policy of using legal migration to boost economic growth shifts wealth from young people towards older people by flooding the market with cheap white-collar and blue-collar foreign labor. That flood of outside labor spikes profits and Wall Street values by cutting salaries for manual and skilled labor of blue-collar and white-collar employees.

The cheap labor policy widens 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 five million marginalized Americans and their families, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

Immigration also steers investment and wealth away from towns in Heartland states because coastal investors can more easily hire and supervise the large immigrant populations who prefer to live in coastal cities. In turn, that investment flow drives up coastal real estate prices, pricing poor U.S. Latinos and blacks out of prosperous cities, such as Berkeley and Oakland.

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