PNAE Is Poltically Tone Deaf Too

I’ve enjoyed poking fun at the H-1B expansion lobbying group FWD.us several times in this blog, for its series of highly embarrassing foot-in-mouth public statements that hurt their cause. In one case, it apparently resulted in the firing of then-FWD.us president Joe Green.

I would have assumed more political sophistication for the Partnership for a New American Economy, an advocacy group founded by a politician, former NYC major Michael Bloomberg. But now PNAE chair John Feinblatt is actually defending Disney, in spite of the firm’s recent replacing of Americans by H-1Bs.

Aside from the questionable accounting of Feinblatt’s claim that Disney “added 70 tech jobs” during the “restructuring” action, the fact remains that Disney did fire Americans and replace them by H-1Bs, giving the program the black eye in the public perception that it deserves. One would think that PNAE would have the sense to simply not comment on the Disney case, rather than say something to make it worse.

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25 thoughts on “PNAE Is Poltically Tone Deaf Too

  1. Instead of blaming the private sector, let’s focus on getting our congress to pull up their sock and address this issue. As was mentioned several times, From Disney/SCE standpoint, it may not be ethical, but it’s legal all the way.

    PNAE/FWD.US/Miano/Malkin etc are all yelling at the top of their lungs on both sides of the issue – publishing books etc. When there is only one side to this issue — Congress must wake up and act to fix this. H-1B/L-1/any other visa abuse must be stopped by congress alone.. Blocking the legal loopholes in the visa system for legals is similar to building up a ‘wall on the border’ for illegals.

    My take is congress is just one-upping each other all the time. When D’s are in majority, R’s will block it and vice versa leaving the US workforce and the ‘indentured’ workforce in a lose-lose situation.

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      • That’s true, sadly.

        Story begins with H-1/L-1 abuse and it worsens:

        1) If it’s Infosyses, they ‘recycle’ their employees every ‘n’ years (mostly after replacing US citizen workforce). This allows these vendors to keep paying their low salaries consistently. ie., if a fresh-foreign grad contractor is here for 3 years on H-1, he or she is sent back and another new fresh-foreign grad is brought in at Level I salary. and the cycle continues.

        2) If it’s the Intels, they sponsor the LPR (greencard) to the employee with nationality that is severely backlogged and in the most backlogged category (eg., EB3) This locks down the employee at the same salary, rank/role in organization. The employee is pretty much immobile at that point for decades with no promotions/salary hikes and is indentured.

        As was recommended earlier ,

        a) Give a level playing field (with no wage tiers/experience levels) and all of this un-ethical abuse would go away. Legally allowing low-wages is mind-numbing. Does not need a 1000-page law for this. “Simple” fix (notice the quotes I have for simple?). This will address (1) above directly and no H-1 cap hikes are needed. In fact, the cap can be reduced.

        b) Remove the quota system for countries for LPR. This will fix (2) above directly. First come, first serve. If LPRs have same opportunities as local workforce, employers will be less inclined to sponsor non-citizens (esp. ones coming from backlogged countries) to begin with. Nip it in the bud, so to speak.

        But congress has to speak.Not the big corporations with deep pockets. Also to a large extent these few powerful voices (PNAE/FWD.US/CIS/Numbers USA) are pushing congress to maintain a status quo which is hurting the workforce(local and indentured) big time.

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        • Expanding LPR in any form is a bad idea. As you said, these are mainly new graduates, thus young, and expansion would exacerbate the age discrimination that is already rampant in the industry. Going to a single-tier wage floor would help a lot with this, but there still would be a problem; flooding the labor market reduces wages simply due to supply and demand.

          I don’t know why you say those organizations are pushing for the status quo. On the contrary, each wants a big change of some sort.

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          • I am not suggesting expand the LPR in any way. All I am saying create a single queue system for LPR process. Today, the queue is so long for few nations that it’s makes ridculously lucrative for employers(big/small alike) to sponsor folks from those countries (read: India,China) in the EB2/EB3 categories. Single queue system will address that issue to a large extent and can be a good start.

            These “organizations” are not ‘pushing’ the status-quo per-se. It’s their views that’s polarizing the congress and the congress is rather better off with a status-quo vs a move this way or the other – One wants to increase H-1 to 200,000 (and not address LPR situation at all) and the other is to take it out altogether.

            Frankly, neither narratives are going to be accepted and neither sides are willing to work together for a way out. Fraud/abuse must be stopped to begin with. Recent history is proof to that. One bill passes house but not another.(CIR, Durban-Grassley bill to address fraud come to mind). All of this in the name of addressing ‘american workforce’ or ‘american competetiveness’ or ‘american economy’.

            With the status quo (all-or-nothing from either side of the debate), We will have more Disney/SCEs doing the unethical stuff in a legal way in broad daylight and more LPRs are choked for decades in the pipeline with a locked in indentured, flat-pay while incentivising the big fellas.

            All in all, everyone seems to care about the H-1 issue most of the time and that is what is publicized everywhere; but not the dual-intent of it which leads to LPR queues leading to the same lost opportunities for both the citizens and to-be’s alike.

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          • Unfortunately, the main type of people who understand the green card connection are the ones with a vested interest in it, such as you. I’ve tried for years to emphasize green cards, but have gotten almost no traction.

            A single-queue policy would help you but not solve the general problem. The wait for a green card would still be several years, thus still very attractive to employers who want immobile workers.

            Also, there are perceptions that those in line from the countries with fewer applicants tend to be of higher quality. If that is correct, a single-queue policy would not be in the national interest.

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        • How about the U.S. goes back to the original H-1B idea. That was NOT to bring in a cheap foriegn worker, the idea was to bring in ‘consultants’ for areas in which the U.S. lacked expertise. Examples: chefs cooking specialties, fysical therapists practicing certain techniques, etc.
          The foreigner would do the work AND train U.S. workers. The period for this consultancy type job would be 2-3 years, during which the foreign consultant/worker was assumed to leave his family back home. Spouse, kid(s) were allowed to visit as often as they wanted & could afford.

          Who then came up with the idea that ‘prevailing wage’ would suffice ? A foreigner living in the US while also having a family in the home country, needs at least TWICE the prevailing wage – if not more !
          The H-1B regulation should have contained this wage requirement. It would have made H-1B’s expensive enough not to be a threat to U.S. workers and it would have limited the numbers considerably.

          Furthermore H-1B’s should be allowed to self-petition for a Green Card.

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          • H-1B replaced the old H-1. The employers felt that H-1 was too burdensome to apply for. The motivation for enacting H-1B was to get easier access to cheap labor.

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    • US tech workers are a mousey bunch. We have never been big on organizing and rocking the boat. The H-1Bs have more of an organized relationship with our elected representatives than US citizen STEM workers. Look at Immigration Voice and their organized lobbying initiatives.

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      • The H-1B visa holders do not have ‘an organized relationship with elected representatives’. It is the employers and especially the lobbyists working for (big) employers who have the relationships your mention.
        As it is very expensive to be re-elected in the US, your representatives need help from people with deep pockets. Guess who has the deepest pocket ? Not the H-1B worker – I can tell you that.

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        • On the contrary: The H-1B organization Immigration Voice has been quite influential in Congress. They hired a high-priced lobbyist, and have met with a number of congresspersons. One of their people was invited to testify to the Senate. Sure, the lobbying efforts from the corporations are much bigger, but the H-1Bs are far more active and far more influential than the American programmers and engineers.

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  2. I think that the H-1b has become a political liability for too many politicians because of high profile cases like Disney and SCE.

    But, politicians haven’t changed their stripes. They will make changes to the H-1b visa, probably strengthen prevailing wage definitions, and scapegoat offshore outsourcing firms because it’s politically easier. Companies like Microsoft will have greater access to H-1b visas because of less competition from body shops.

    But, changes to the H-1b will be simple slight of hand. They will loosen the B-1 in lieu of H-1b requirements and rollback provisions requiring L-1 visas to be at a worksite owned by the sponsoring company. They may even reduce the 1 year employment requirement. Indian firms typically train for six months anyways before releasing into the wild, so the L1 with no cap, no wage test, and the ability to work at third party sites will make the L-1 the outsourcing visa of choice.

    The fight we need to make is over the definition of “manager”. IT workers who have no supervisory role are managers in name only, because Congress made computer workers “managers”. We manage systems so exempt from overtime and meet technical qualifications for the L-1 “executive visa” originally intended to facilitate global trade, not outsourcing of skilled labor.

    Being classified as management is very bad for IT workers. There is already forward momentum to reverse the third party site rules that went into effect about ten years ago, and actually have had a positive effect on regards to the L-1.

    We can’t keep our eyes on the H-1b visa only. That is like playing chess and using only one piece on the board.

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    • Roy, as long as you are thinking in terms of a U.S. employer contracting with a body shop, you are missing the big picture too. As I’ve said many times, if Congress enacts an automatic green card policy for foreign students earning degrees in the U.S., all the rest becomes moot.

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      • I graduated several years ago from a private university with a master’s degree in a *business* field, and even there over 50% of the students were foreign students. I can’t imagine the job market carnage if they automatically got green cards.

        Despite the unreal saturation of graduates in the area, department members told us that the college of business required them to have a minimum number of students each year to meet budget expectations.

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  3. There are perceptions that those in line from the countries with fewer applicants tend to be of higher quality. If that is correct, a single-queue policy would not be in the national interest.

    That is just a perception with no data to back up (atleast I did not find any).

    The quality factor is comes from treating H-1s on par with local citizens (same wages etc). That way, low quality folks get weeded out automatically (competetion). Take the control out of employers, and I bet there will be a huge improvement in quality overnight..If weeding out happens during initial stages, they cant even get in the ‘high quality’ LPR lanes.

    When I say single queue, it’s one queue per category (EB 1/2/3/etc). Too, I had not touched on the other factors that is causing long queues –

    1) Family Based immigration. Linking the EB with FB LPR queues with an inherent ‘spillover’ logic is causing severe backlogs. This FB inherently ‘chainable’. Once someone gets a LPR, he/she can pull his/her family member and so on. That is no way helping out the country or the economy.

    2) Govt Inefficiencies. There are several visas that went un-used/wasted (yes, wasted) due to sheer incompetence of the govt agencies (read USCIS/DOS) when there was sufficient demand for the same. As recently as Xie V Kerry case, the court did not understand how DOS computes these quotas and allots immigration visas.

    All of this is not based on the assumption that the intake (via H-1/L-1) remains same (or) is reduced.

    Needless to say, with the current system, the pipes just get bigger and fatter and more employer dominated.

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    • I was advised a few years ago not to highlight the differential quality issue, so it would probably be better to discuss it offline. Yes, there is data on this.

      I agree that the key is eliminating the mechanisms that allow foreign workers to serve as cheap labor. As I’ve said (and some influential people are beginning to agree with publicly), the current four-tier wage floor policy should be replaced by a single-tier system, which would go a long way to reducing the H-1B problem, as the government data show. (The 50th percentile, which is the usual proposed value for a single-tier system, is at Level III, and the vast majority of H-1Bs and green card petitions are at Levels I and II.) Making green card sponsorees fully mobile as soon as the petition is filed would also help, as mentioned.

      Those measures would still leave a lot of abuse. For instance, there is a very widespread problem of ethnic-crony hiring. There are a lot of young hiring managers who just don’t want older people working under them. Etc. So your assumption that only the best are hired is not true, sad to say.

      Family-based chain migration has been controversial for more than 20 years. Many bills have been introduced to cancel it, but it has always been beaten down by the Chinese-American political groups.

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      • Practical and Implementable solutions/alternatives by knowledgeable folks like you/Ron Hira are restricted to forums and occasional media interviews. Reality is that all the sugar coating/extreme rhetorics by big lobby groups is heard all around.

        I hope the differential quality numbers that you refer to include the 50k+ or so annual Diversity visa lottery folks who are handed out LPRs if they get selected *without* any relation to FB or EB or for that matter anything. DV lottery is another huge chunk that impacts the intake and the quality of work by immigrants so to speak. I am yet to see a good study by someone on this subject alone.

        The ethnic-cronyism is rampant in the infosyses. it does not seem to affect the intels.

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        • The ethnic cronyism absolutely does impact the Intels. It is common to see project teams that are mostly Chinese, mostly Indian, mostly Russian, or whatever.

          The quality issue I referred to was specifically for CS/EE people who first came to the U.S. as foreign students, nothing broader than that.

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          • Yes. At my Fortune 100 company the Indians in management are well known for only hiring other Indians. Don’t even have to be local. In fact, some seem to prefer hiring people for our overseas offices in India over bringing on board anyone local.

            The division I am in reached a tipping point several years ago, to the point where non-Indians are actively leaving the division given the cronyism and lack of opportunities.

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    • A Permanent Resident can only petition for a spouse and for (an) unmarried, minor kid(s). As the number of visas for this Category is limited that can mean a waiting time. This does not apply when the LPR immigrates with the spouse/kid(s) at the same time.

      It is the U.S. citizens – some freshly minted – who can petition not only for spouses and unmarried minor kids, but also for fathers and mothers. These are all Immediate Relatives, which means there is no limitation to the number of visas that can be issued for them in a year.
      U.S. Citizens can also petition for brothers/sisters and the siblings familiy, although the wait can be several years as the visa-numbers for this Category are limited. Citizens can also petition for adult children, again with their families. For this Cat. the visas are limited, the wait can be considerably.

      Luxemburg is a country, Liechtenstein too, and so is India. And China.

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  4. Regarding ‘the Visa Lottery folks’ – there is little documentation on how succesful they are in finding a job, building a life, etc. (Believe me, I have searched hard for this information.)
    There is evidence that ‘winners’ coming from wealthier countries are usually successful. They tend to be better educated, have valuable work-experience, often posses enough cash to tide themselves over, and also money to buy a house, a car, other necessities for daily life in the U.S.
    Of the ‘winners’ from poorer countries apparently about 50% is not successful. Many must work at a lower level than they did back home, e.g. a couple that were CPA’s could find no better employment here than part time jobs at WalMart. Their son, who was studying to become an engineer, had to stop his study and start flipping burgers to help his parents financially.

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