Frightened political and business insiders have gone to great lengths to keep the American public from learning about the controversial H-1B guest worker visa program, which helps explain why the Silicon Valley elites and the Republican old guard are coming together to try and destroy Donald Trump.
The lengths the H-1B advocates have gone to keep their secrets hidden is cause for alarm and shows exactly why the whole rotten immigration system needs to be exposed.
The high-tech community are in screaming full-throated fear of Donald Trump, and with good reason. Silicon Valley’s current business model is based on two things that presumptive GOP nominee Trump has spoken out against: cheap overseas manufacturing and a cheaper, more malleable domestic labor force created through government programs like the H1-B foreign guest-worker program.
Silicon Valley has been used to the Republican political establishment playing nice with them on programs like the H-1B guest-worker visa program that keeps their cheap labor pipeline rolling.
As the Los Angeles Times reported in their article Donald Trump has done the unthinkable: Unite Silicon Valley
From the corner conference room in his 23rd-floor office, with its sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, high-stakes tech investor and longtime GOP activist Alex Slusky talked about how Florida Sen. Marco Rubio sat in that very room for a tutorial on the innovation economy. He talks about how former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was also enamored with the sector’s inner workings, as was Ohio Gov. John Kasich and, of course, Rand Paul, the Kentucky senator who made tech a central focus of his campaign.
“He hasn’t done anything to reach out,” said Slusky, who has voted for every GOP presidential nominee since he organized his high school’s Ronald Reagan reelection effort.
That list is GOP politicians who do “reach out” is notable for the amount of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” supporters on it, including Jeb “Acts of Love” Bush and “Gang of Eight” member Marco Rubio.
In part one of this series, we talked about how following the lobbying money on immigration reform leads to high-tech companies like Facebook and Microsoft spending millions to promote immigration in order to save money and have employees that they can control. Facebook isn’t just a top contributer: founder Mark Zuckerberg has been a relentless public advocate for more immigration.
While the public has been focused on the immigration crisis involving low-wage workers from the southern border, we showed how the estimated two million workers imported using programs like the H-1B visa has caused salaries for Americans with computer science degrees to go flat for over a decade may actually be a bigger problem, one that neither the Democrats or Republicans want to talk about.
The story has been both underreported and shocking but if you go to do research on your own, you’ll run into a problem: the people behind the guest worker program have made sure that very little information is available.
When news stories say things like there an “estimated two million” workers in the United States on guest worker visa, that’s an estimate: no exact figures are available.
As website GuestworkerData.org explains:
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the State Department publish almost nothing about the programs, except for a general annual report and the total number of visas issued. Only the Labor Department publishes detailed labor certifications, but stops short of providing petition or visa data. Without access to substantive information about guest workers, public debate over any reform of the programs is stymied.
The companies and politicians promoting the guest worker corporate giveaways have a very good idea that if the public catches on to the fact that Americans are losing their jobs and having their wages stagnate, it further enflames a public that is already at a boiling point across the political spectrum.
To keep the H-1B program under wraps, the political class have quietly used policy to make the data about the program even more difficult to assess. Take the bizarre 2014 edict by the Department of Labor about H-1B data as reported by ComputerWorld:
In a notice posted last week, the U.S. Department of Labor said that records used for labor certification, whether in paper or electronic, “are temporary records and subject to destruction” after five years, under a new policy.
There was no explanation for the change, and it is perplexing to researchers. The records under threat are called Labor Condition Applications (LCA), which identify the H-1B employer, worksite, the prevailing wage, and the wage paid to the worker.
Yes: the policy actually destroys the electronic records that would be used for research into the H-1B program.
Of course, the policy barely made a blip in the political media but the article in ComputerWorld exposes the problem, including the fact that the data in question takes up very little space.
The cost of storage can’t be an issue for the government’s $80 billion IT budget: A full year’s worth of LCA data is less than 1GB.
The change in retention policy was approved last year by the National Archives and Records Administration, but this action appears to have escaped notice until the Labor Department posted a note (See Oct. 17 note titled “H-1B legacy records no long available.”)
LCA records are used by people on all sides of the H-1B issue, and their research usually goes beyond five years. The H-1B visa itself is for six years, with one renewal after three years.
Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis and an H-1B visa researcher and critic, said he doesn’t understand the government’s action.
“Paper records, sure, but electronic?” Matloff said.
When ComputerWorld asked the Department of Labor to explain, they got no response.
While the government and high tech companies don’t want you to know anything about guest worker programs, the people whose lives have been ruined really want you to know and they are making their voices heard. Since the issue gets almost no media traction, they’ve been left to try and get the word out on their own.
An example of the revolt agains the media goes back years to when one tech worker posted a video that revealed the shocking story of how companies openly and actively scheme to NOT hire Americans.
This practice runs counter to the stated intent of the guest worker programs which is to not displace American workers. Proponents of the guest worker programs say that there are safeguards in the law to make sure the visa programs like H-1B, L-1 and PERM are triggered only when companies simply can’t find Americans to do the jobs.
In 2007, a YouTube user account posted a video that showed the reality. As the video is described on YouTube, immigration attorneys from the law firm Cohen & Grigsby explain how they assist their high tech clients in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and show the steps they go through to disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1b workers.
As the Christian Science Monitor reported on the video:
“Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified US worker,” says the attorney in the video, an immigration lawyer at Cohen & Grigsby, a firm in Pittsburgh. “In a sense, that sounds funny, but it’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The video is a real “Gruber Moment” for the guest worker program and has garnered close to half a million views. It was originally available on the Cohen & Grigsby website but it was quickly pulled down once it started getting exposure.
The other place that angry Americans hurt by guest worker programs are telling their stories is the website Hire Americans First, which lists hundreds and hundreds of first person accounts. Click to any page and you’ll see stories like this one:
I watched as 80% of the US citizens in my department were replaced with foreign visa workers while I was employed at GE Healthcare. Even though I have 15 years of experience in my field working with Fortune 500 companies- and a college degree I have remained either unemployed or under employed since September 2006.
Or this one:
With a 4 year degree in computers and 21 years experience I have not been able to find a job for almost 4 years. Recently I did a contract at Verizon in Tampa, Florida where out of approximately 1000 employees over 800 were H-1B visa from India.
Or this one:
Over the past five and a half years I have applied to at least 760 IT job openings, I have had at least 150 phone screens, and at least 50 in person interviews, yet I have never received even one job offer. Given the fact that my professional experience is in compiler development makes this problem even more shocking than normal, because my background is so rare that I have been contacted by employers in Canada, the United kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and even a recruiter from Patni Data Systems. Because of the H-1B and L-1 visa I have estimated that I have been defrauded of anywhere from $400,000 to $500,000 in income.
These are American workers with skills and college degrees, not the fruit pickers and bedmakers that President Obama claims are doing jobs Americans don’t want to do. They’ve been sold out by politicians on both sides of the aisle but their stories have to be sought out because the debate has focused on the low skill workers; a much safer debate for the political establishment and Silicon Valley.
A system that brings truly skilled, exceptional people into the United States to work helps our country but the current system is fraught with abuse and just the lobbying on the issue is a multi-million dollar drain on the economy.
Donald Trump, backed by such immigration stalwarts as Sen. Jeff Sessions, represents an existential threat to this abuse. If Trump is elected, immigration policy will be given a going over that it hasn’t had in decades.