Why the H1-B and L-1 Visas Should Be Curtailed (03.2004)
The H1-B visa is used to bring in foreign technology workers; the L-1 visa is used for intra-company transfers. The H1-b quota was raised in 2000 to 195,000; it reverted to 65,000 in 2003. The administration is currently proposing to raise it to de facto 325,000. AEA opposes bringing in any foreign tech workers beyond a small number of exceptional scientific talents and foreign executives overseeing US subsidiaries. Why?
• American tech workers are going unemployed, facing age discrimination, and losing their jobs to outsourcing.
• Companies that say they "can't find" Americans to do these jobs are lying, period. There is not a tech job in the USA that can't be filled with an American citizen if the employer is willing to pay the market wage for the skill in question. This is about companies pursuing cheaper labor, period.
• Foreign tech workers are not necessary for American companies to compete. The US has the greatest pool of tech skills in the world.
• Predictions of shortages of tech workers are pure inventions designed to justify importation of more cheap labor. Past predictions have failed time and again.
• Bringing in foreigners to take tech jobs undermines engineering as a profession and discourages young people from pursuing this path.
• People assume that all technology workers are rich dot-com entrepreneurs; in fact, 95% of them are ordinary middle-class Americans.
• So-called safeguards are a joke and an irrelevance. The problem is the loss of American jobs to foreigners; no legal procedure that leaves this basic fact intact has any real significance. There is no right way or wrong way to unemploy Americans.
• Safeguards get evaded, anyway. Although Labor Dept. regulations require companies to pay at least 95% of the prevailing wage, companies are free to use biased data in establishing what this wage is.
• Paul Donnelly of the Center for Immigration Studies estimates that the administrations' new proposal would lead to an annual admission of 325,000 "temporary" workers.
• Worse, the proposal allows the H-1B visa to be extended indefinitely past the six-year expiration for those who have completed the labor certification part of the green-card process. This would give special legal status to otherwise-illegal visa overstayers.
• Four out of five Americans oppose increasing H-1B visa limits, according to a survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates Inc. 82% of a national cross-section of 1,000 adults opposed Congress "allowing U.S. companies to sponsor 190,000 additional foreign technical workers, as temporary employees for up to six years."
• AEA's position is supported by: AFL-CIO Coalition for Trade Sanity & Industrial Union Council, MADe in the USA, Manufacturers for Fair Trade, PACE International Union, Rescue American Jobs Foundation, Save American Manufacturing, Organization for the Rights of American Workers, United Steelworkers of America, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Federation for American Immigration Reform, Center for Immigration Studies, HireAmericanCitizens.org, Carrying Capacity Network, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society of Women Engineers.
• AEA supports HR 2688 to abolish the H1b visa and HR 2702 to curtail L-1. HR 2154 is an unenforceable and useless bill.