Let me put it as succinctly as I can.
Recently Southern California Edison was exposed as laying off its American IT workers and replacing them with workers imported from India. After Congress “reforms” the H-1B and employer-sponsored green card programs, that will change: Now firms like SCE will lay off their American workers and replace them with newly-graduated foreign students hired from U.S. colleges, instead of hiring them directly from India. Whoopee!
Pardon that last sarcasm, but my meaning should be clear: After the “reform,” firms like SCE will still be hiring foreign workers, just sourced differently.
I’m referring, of course, to a common theme of mine — the inaccurate and destructive distinction made between the “Intels” and “Infosyses,” the former meaning companies that hire foreign workers from U.S. campuses and the latter meaning the IT service firms that bring in foreign workers directly from abroad. The claim is that the “Intels” use the H-1B program responsibly while the “Infosyses” abuse it. The fact is that BOTH types of firms abuse the program, with the result being reduced job opportunities, reduced wages and increased misery for U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
Various bills introduced in Congress in recent years have been based on this Intels vs. Infosyses (false) dichotomy, and have proposed rewarding the Intels by devising special immigration deals for the foreign students. Unfortunately, even many critics of H-1B have bought into that dichotomy, and I’m beginning to hear things coming out of DC that suggest that we may well see legislation enacted featuring sweet deals for foreign students.
What people keep forgetting is the intimate connection of H-1B to age. Younger workers are cheaper, and giving special privileges to foreign students means adding thousands of YOUNG workers to a labor market already suffering grievously from age discrimination.
If such legislation does go through, SCE will have lots of YOUNG foreign workers to hire to displace its expensive older American workers. The only difference is that it now will be able to hire them from local colleges.