Fortune 500 to Agencies: Help Keep U.S. Jobs Filled with 200,000-plus Visa Workers

H1-B Visa Workers
MANJUNATH KIRAN/AFP/Getty Images

The government will open “hundreds and thousands” of jobs to Americans if it won’t extend work permits for foreign visa workers, says a plea from advocacy groups funded by Mike Bloomberg, the Koch networks, and many Fortune 500 companies.

“For a politician, this should be a no-brainer,” responded Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Tech Workers. “This is no brainer … if you’re a citizen who is going hungry while foreigners are being preferred for hiring, you’re going to vote that politician out office.”

Jessica Vaughan, the director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies said the companies:

…are obviously not planning to hire the unemployed 26 million Americans. They are trying to stave off [agency] action that they fear will result in some of the visa workers that they have used to replace American [graduates] having to leave the country. They are in a panic that their business model of driving down wages and replacing Americans with visa workers will be upended.

Congress and the White House have allowed companies to keep a population of roughly 1.5 million foreign graduates in a very wide variety of U.S. jobs, both elite jobs and the starter jobs needed by new U.S. graduates. The foreign graduates include more than 270,000 Chinese graduates and roughly one million Indian graduates.

The federal government also helps companies import at least 400,000 foreign workers for seasonal work each year, including roughly 100,000 J-1 workers for summertime jobs at Disney and various beach resorts.

This government-delivered labor supply sidelines many Americans, cuts wages and salaries, subsidizes employers and investors, and also transfers wealth from the interior states to the coasts.

Recent polls show that the public wants a near-total shutdown of immigration, partly to ensure that Americans can recover their jobs lost to the coronavirus crash:

“Trump is really going to suspend immigration? Including H1B?” one technology professional asked Breitbart News. “I know people who are literally crying in joy from this news and the chance to have a job in tech again.”

Americans graduating from college in 2020 are “walking into a hurricane,” said Patrick Beharelle, CEO of TrueBlue, told the Wall Street Journal.

While facing pressure from many pro-American advocacy groups and the impending election, Trump and his deputies are showing an increased willingness to trim the many visa workers programs. But the grassroots advocacy groups are pushing for deeper reforms to help open many jobs for Americans. 

The signers of the plea include several groups that have been funded by corporations, the Koch brothers, or investor George Soros: Americans for Prosperity, the Libre Initiative,  the National Association of Evangelicals, the National Immigration Forum, and the Hispanic Leadership Fund

The signers also included many labor-brokers for the employers of blue-collar and white-collar workers: AmericanHort, the Essential Worker Immigration Coalition, the American Immigration Council, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association

Fortune 500 companies are represented by TechNet and the Information Technology Industry Council, whose members include Indian labor brokers. The two groups include nearly all of the major technology firms who use the H-1B program to sideline at least 900,000 American professionals. The ITIC group also includes at least two members of the India-based NASSCOM outsourcing coalition, Cognizant and Tata. 

Bloomberg’s advocacy group, New American Economy, signed the letter.

Mark Zuckerberg and fellow West Coast investors at FWD.us did not sign the letter, but FWW.us is a member of the Technet coalition and works with another signer, a university coalition titled The President’s Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration.

The April 17 plea was sent to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State. Curiously, it was not sent to the labor department where the relevant offices are run by a former counselor for former President George W. Bush.

The plea says:

USCIS office closures and visa processing limitations mean that without action, nonimmigrant workers risk falling out of status or violating the terms of their visa through no fault of their own. American hospitals and farms will lack the critical immigrant labor force needed to get us through these trying times. We applaud recent actions taken by the State Department, USCIS and DHS to address some of the issues associated with visa processing, but more needs to be done. We ask that DHS, the Department of State, and USCIS provide relief to these important workers and their employers.

Without action, these issues will lead to hundreds and thousands of unfilled jobs and have profound negative economic effects.

We the undersigned ask that U.S. federal agencies take immediate action to support foreign- born workers and their employers during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The phrase “hundreds and thousands” means “an indefinite but emphatically large number,” according to Wikipedia.

The companies requested:

Delay all work authorization expiration dates and extend deadlines to renew or adjust status until at least September 10 …

Forgive accrual of unlawful presence for furloughed workers and student visa holders and forgive extended absence for green card holders …

Add flexibility to continue processing essential worker visas, including for health care workers and temporary farmworkers.

The request was signed by the Niskanen Center, a pro-migration group which recently posted a document saying that “the total number of would-be legal immigrants working here who may lose status and have to depart [because of the coronavirus crash] would likely more than double to over a quarter of a million.”

In 2019, the center produced a list of priorities for immigration policy — and excluded any ideas for protecting Americans’ careers, pay, housing, or children.

The Fortune 500 plea was favorably covered two foreign-born reporters at Mike Bloomberg’s Bloomberg.com:

The tech industry is crucial to supporting offices working remotely, helping doctors provide telehealth services and keeping students learning at home, said Alex Burgos, senior vice president of federal policy and government relations at TechNet. “We’ve seen the administration extend tax filing deadlines,” he said, and similar flexibility in visa programs makes sense “because no one here is at fault in any way.”

Technet did not respond to questions from Breitbart News.

The plea by Burgos at Technet for “flexibility … because no one here is at fault in any way” spotlights a key argument by business groups, that no-fault rules in visa worker laws allow the wholesale suspension of the rules to help employers.

But those no-fault rules were designed for fixing small-scale problems — not for bailing out the companies’ decades-old and economy-wide policy of replacing Americans with cheaper, compliant, and disposable foreign workers, said Lynn.

“We’ve got 26 million unemployed Americans: Why would we be concerned with foreign returning home when their visas or contracts have expired?” said Lynn.

“The companies’ [contractual] promise was kept, and now an American will have an opportunity to fill that position,” he said, adding “these are just the forces that want cheap labor, who don’t want there to be an opportunity for Americans to fill  those positions.”

 

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at NMunro@Breitbart.com.

 

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