The H-1B Cartel

Cartel: A combination of independent businesses formed to regulate production, pricing, and marketing of goods by the members. (Websters II New Riverside University Dictionary)

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), the American Electronics Association (AEA), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Research Council (NRC), many members of Congress, the academic community as well as many other organizations are the loosely bound coalition which we define as the “H-1b Cartel”.

Our H-1b Cartel did just that in the last session of Congress with a huge amount of success with only one casualty – that being Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan. That was a small price for the H-1b Cartel to pay for such a resounding victory in passage of the H-1b legislation.

Consider the following facts:

• Just last year Congress increased the number of H-1b visa limits from 115,000 to 195,000 and included various exemptions which will increase the total to many more than the statutory 195,000. This was after an increase from 65,000 to the 115,000 just the year before.

• The six-month total for this year is already 15% higher than the total of 677,795 job cut announcements in 1998, which was the biggest job cut year of the last decade, the report said. (1)

• U.S. layoffs totaled 124,852 in June, up 56% from May, according to the Challenger, Gray & Christmas monthly report of job cuts. Job cuts have now exceeded 100,000 six out of the last seven months, with the six-month total for this year at 770,362 compared with 223,421 during the same period last year, the report said. (2)

• On a year-over-year basis, layoff announcements were up 624% in June compared with 17,241 job cut announcements during the same month last year. (2)

• Out of all the major industries, telecommunications led the group with 27,446 job cut announcements, bringing its six-month total to 130,442. This total is 49% higher than the second ranked auto industry's 87,613 job cut announcements this year. (2)

• The other industries with a high number of job cut announcements are computer with 74,723, industrial goods with 59,496 and electronics with 59,181, the report said. (2)

• Among the U.S. telecom companies announcing recent layoffs are Motorola, WorldCom, Lucent, Cisco, JDS Uniphase and Corning. (3)

• The first four months of 2001 have been particularly brutal in the Internet sector, with a total of 51,564 job cuts, and the cuts are beginning to affect so-called "Old Economy" companies with an Internet presence as well as so-called "New Economy" companies. (4)

• It should be noted these are the exact same industries and companies who lobbied so vigorously to get the H-1b increase approved.

• Kris Lakshmikanth, of the Bangalore-based Head Hunters recruitment agency, said that many US-based Indians were now turning up in Britain on tourist visas hoping to get work. (5)

• The bubble has burst, he said. There are at least 50,000 Indians in the US without jobs, and many of them are very worried. (5)

• Internet message boards lament the way they have been treated; like prostitutes with Aids expected to go back to our village, complains one programmer. They treated us like kings when they needed us and like Untouchables when they don’t. (5)

• During the boom, tech companies lobbied to hire more foreign workers. Now that many are losing their jobs, the industry is turning its back. (8)

• "Immigration has to be part of the solution," testified Harris Miller, president of the Information Technology Association of America, at a 1998 Senate hearing. Backed by Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and other tech heavyweights, the ITAA denounced limits on H-1B visas as a drag on prosperity. (8)

• Miller got what he wanted. Congress last year raised the annual H-1B quota by 70 percent. (8)

• The workers' plight, however, is eliciting little sympathy from the very companies that spent years pressuring Congress to let them immigrate. (8)

• "They see their H-1B as an 'ally-ally-in-free' card, which it is not," Miller says now. "We're not going to make the argument that they should be allowed to hang around the United States as long as they want." (8)

• the captains of industry are able to forecast their need three to five years ahead for new H-1b's, but are unable to tell three months in advance they are going to layoff citizens and green card holders.

• Many students went through job interviews last fall, receiving and often accepting offers for jobs starting later this year. But in the intervening months, the slowing economy has led a number of companies to reduce or even undo hiring, leaving students out in the cold. (6)

• Intel would not specify the amount of the payment, but said it would vary with the job and the salary offered. If new graduates come to Intel anyway, they may not end up in the position they were initially promised, a company spokesman said. (6)

• Cisco has rescinded offers to about 25 percent of the college students who received job offers, but has tried to soften the impact by offering a consolation package consisting of 12 weeks' salary and assistance finding a job elsewhere. (6)

• Nearly 30 unemployed tech workers are among the 100 men at the Montgomery Street Inn and other shelters in San Jose run by InnVision, said Robbie Reinhart, director of the nonprofit organization. (7)

• Dot-com failures sent San Francisco's unemployment rate up to 4.2 percent in May from a rock-bottom 2.6 percent a year ago -- with 18,000 people added, according to a state report. (7)

• In Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley, layoffs in electronic equipment manufacturing and business services rose for the fifth straight month, contributing to a 3.2 percent unemployment rate in May. (7)

• They've worked up to 110 hours per week and slept on the conference room floor," said Ilene Philipson, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Working Families at the University of California at Berkeley. "People have given up all sorts of things to give to their job, and when there's a layoff there's no other support for them." (7)

• The technology industry has slowed from its earlier breakneck speeds, but tech leaders say the need for foreign workers has not. (9)

• Instead, the drive to recruit from the world's work force seems even stronger as companies hunt for the best and brightest just to stay alive. (9)

• As a result, the federal program to bring foreign professionals to the country for temporary jobs, the H-1B visa program, is busier than ever. (9)


(1) BridgeNews – July 5, 2001
(2) BridgeNews - July5, 2001
(3) - May 3, 2001
(4) CNNfn - April 27, 2001
(5) London Times - May 15 2001
(6) New York Times - May 4, 2001
(7) The Associated Press - June 15, 2001
(8) The Industry Standard - May 31, 2001
(9) The Virginian-Pilot - May 7, 2001

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