California Legislature Discovers H-1B

There is no state that is politically more pro-immigration than my state of California, especially as we grow more and more Latino demographically. And yet our Assembly has now passed a resolution calling for an investigation of the H-1B work visa. Indeed, even the list of sponsors of the bill is striking in terms of surnames:  Two of the authors are named Garcia and Hernandez, and the coauthors include many legislators from immigrant-dominated Latino, Asian and other communities, such as Chiu, Garcia, Gonzalez, Alejo, Bonilla, Bonta, Calderon, Campos, Chau, Chu, Gomez, Lopez, Medina, Nazarian, Rodriguez, Salas, Santiago and Ting.

Another interesting irony (though irony seems to be the norm in today’s world of politics): The companion bill, also authored by Hernandez, expresses concern that such a sensitive sector as an electric utility could rely so heavily on foreign workers for IT and engineering operations, potentially creating avenues for terrorists. Sounds like a classical conservative concern, yet these are liberal Democrats. To me, this sounds like a well-founded worry, one that people of whatever party should have. (I’m a Democrat, as some of you know.)

How on Earth could this happen? Well, these same staunchly pro-immigration legislators are also very pro-union, and the workers at SCE who were replaced by H-1Bs are now being supported by a union! Someone at SCE just didn’t think this through.

Resolutions are fine, especially as barometers of current politics, but they have no teeth. The companion bill aims to have bite; it would require that utilities use only “direct” employees, as opposed to the situation with SCE, Disney and so on, in which the employers fired their American workers and replaced them by “rented” workers supplied by IT services firms (colloquially, “bodyshops”) such as Infosys. And it is here that the bill fails, quite badly.

The bill, for example, would do nothing to prevent SCE from hiring its own H-1Bs. And as I’ve often warned before, most of the bills introduced in Congress in recent years on foreign tech workers have included provisions to grant fast track green cards to foreign students studying at U.S. universities. Companies like SCE would have no problem hiring them, and again these would be cheap hires, due to the youth of new/recent graduates, which is mainly the same reason firms like Infosys can provide their foreign workers so cheaply. In other words, business as usual following enactment of so-called “reform” legislation.

Moreover, if the legislature is that concerned about the “furriners” getting access to the power grid, they might consider the fact that most of the Chinese industrial espionage cases, including those in the defense industry, have involved former foreign students who studied at U.S. universities, such as this one involving former students at USC, a few miles away from SCE headquarters, or for that matter, even closer to the LA Dept. of Water and Power; with green cards, they’d be eligible to work at these utilities.

In other words, the Assembly’s bill’s emphasis on the word direct really misses the boat; it misses the entire harbor! But I can’t blame them, because for years the tech industry lobbyists, with the unwitting complicity of many prominent critics of H-1B, have sent the false message that the main problems of H-1B have come from indirect hiring through the bodyshops. No wonder the bill’s author (and possibly even the union) got confused.

Not that Hernandez’s bill has a chance anyway. As pointed out in Pat Thibodeau’s article, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a 2012 bill that would have banned the offshoring of IT call centers. There were a number of failed bills like this in the early 2000s, including a 2004 bill by Carol Liu, passed by the legislature but vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on the grounds that it would be a “restriction of foreign trade.” Count on Democratic Governor Jerry Brown to veto Hernandez’s bill too, if it’s not quashed earlier in the legislative process.

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17 thoughts on “California Legislature Discovers H-1B

  1. Industrial espionage likely occurs within the university as well. The collaborations of universities and collaborating companies with foreign institutions and government agencies along with students and post docs more loyal to foreign countries than their US sponsors make it highly probable that current research and development efforts paid for by the US taxpayers will be transferred offshore,

    Even research in the interest of national security requiring a security clearance is being done by foreign nationals on work or visiting scholar visas while American scholars – who could provide oversight at the activities in the labs – are being denied access to laboratories for their research.

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  2. I think one of the reasons they are doing this is the same thing I keep attacking fwd.us with.

    Will FWD.us stand up for you once you are an American Citizen?

    I ask this question because FWD.us has done nothing to help the Displaced Americans and there are a lot of us.

    And if they will not help the Displaced Americans, it is logical to make the assumption that they will not help the illegal immigrant or the temporary worker on temporary visa once they become an American Citizen.

    Granted, it is only a small chink in their armor, but that is all we need.

    I have also noted that those on a H-1B like Kumar have no one to stand up for them either once they get to be around 40 or so years of age as they too are being replaced by wet behind the ears “Freshers”

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  3. Regarding the Latino legislators, once an immigrant’s family, friends and neighbors have migrated to the US, they get impacted by the same job, economic, and crime pressures as citizens and become anti-immigration. I have lived and worked in Houston and have been told this by many Latinos.

    For a while the underground railroad, coyotes, and trafficking (job placement agencies) looks good for certain people, but eventually it is recognized as a network of crime, one faction exploiting another.

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    • Some years ago, Antonio Hernandez, a remarkable woman who then headed the Latino activist organization MALDEF, spoke at my university. During the Q&A, I asked her whether Latinos are harmed by immigration. She gave a very frank, forthright answer: Yes. And she elaborated on it.
      Since the audience was mainly Latino, Ms. Hernandez could afford to give this answer. I’d like to think she would have given a similar answer to the LA Times, but I’m not confident of that.
      At a mini-conference on tech immigration at Stanford a few years ago, a tech CEO said, “Since we’re among friends here, we know that the H-1Bs make lower wages.”

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  4. They are reacting because Pro-H1B laws hurt Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans as as well as Euro-Americans. Throw in East Indian-Americans 3rdWorld-Americans and the US born children of H1B workers who are also affected by these laws.

    Once read they used to do this in the MidWest. If the Italians went on strike they’d bring in German immigrants. When they striked they brought in Poles. Then Hungarians, Russians, Greeks, etc. Just use one group against the other, all for the benefit of the firms.

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    • Yes, there is a long history of that.

      More recently: After the Katrina hurricane disaster in New Orleans, a group of local African-American workers were hired for the cleanup and rebuilding. On the third day of work, their supervisor said, “You’re all being terminated, as the Mexicans have arrived.”

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  5. Also, I’m sure the Hispanics and Asian citizens in their districts are throwing fits and complaining to their legislatures that they and their family and friends are losing good paying jobs and benefits to H1Bs.

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  6. Another data breach was revealed about a month ago at the government Office of Personnel Management, OPM. The administration hasn’t publicly said it was China, but apparently they told Congress that and it is widely reported. They keep raising the number of people whose records were stolen, 18 million last I heard. It apparently includes very secret information from security clearances, some say everyone who has filed a security clearance for decades. In particular Chinese Americans who have sensitive jobs have to list all their close contacts in China, and this could lead to pressure or worse on those contacts. It’s also basically the perfect potential blackmail information for anyone with a security clearance.

    OPM director Katherine Archuleta was National Political Director for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, and stresses diversity.

    Ars Technica interviewed an anonymous consultant who worked on an OPM project.

    A consultant…told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'”

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    • I’ve said many times that, no matter how much Obama has said tech is so important, he really has no interest in it. It’s just a necessary evil to him, and things like the Obamacare Web site debacle comes as a result. Same for these horrendous, and likely grimly harmful, security breaches.

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    • Here is a PDF that I found from the VA (veterans administration) showing similar items.

      http://keepamericaatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/VAOIG-13-01730-159.pdf

      I’ve been hammering them (opm and va) for using temporary workers on temporary visas rather than unemployed veterans and americans

      This document also shows a person logging in from communist china and what is even worse is they left their laptop and the credentials on the laptop in communist china.

      My point is they do not need to hack our systems as they can very easily log into them using the credentials that we were forced to give them when we were thrown under the bus.

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    • Other aspects of this that people should consider:

      1. Lack IT Security Measures – Being in the field 30+ years, besides the access issues, is the issue of continual copying of Production (Prod) data into other environment databases: Development (Dev), Quality Control (QC), Unit Acceptance Testing (UAT) and maybe more. If you want a good test database for your system you get something that is as close to reality is possible. The easiest way to do that is copy from Prod. A colleague at another firm says they have 16+ databases with SSN and other personal data. This happens at the majority of IT firms. The proper way to fix this is to copy from Prod but immediately run an update script that changes all the SSNs, credit card #s and other personal data to bogus but testable values. Too many firms are too cheap or lazy to do that.
      2. SSN Losing Uniqueness. – I’ve been hit by the Anthem and OPM breaches. So have millions of others. There are more breaches to come. I’m resigned to the fact that SSN and other numbers will lose their value as personal identifiers. At some point, credit and other industries will have to announce that they will no longer be able to use those. Hopefully an alternative that can thwart identity theft can be devised.

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  7. I think the terror threat through H-1B is quite real, including the Muslim variety. Terrorists in general have been educated and Westernized, the hard core jihadis don’t blend in well. A couple of years ago there was still a solicitation for H-1B candidates from this prominent Chicago based Pakistani-American businessman online, though he was in federal prison.

    Sparcotech: Contact Person: Tahawwur Rana, President

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/tahawwur-rana-sentencing-_n_2496438.htm

    The government’s star witness at Rana’s trial was admitted terrorist David Coleman Headley, who had pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks. The American Pakistani testified against his school friend Rana to avoid the death penalty and extradition and spent five days on the witness stand detailing how he allegedly worked for both the Pakistani intelligence agency known as the ISI and Lashkar.

    Rana was accused of allowing Headley to open a branch of his Chicago-based immigration law business in Mumbai as a cover story

    [Headly set up the Mumbai, India attacks that killed 200 people. I believe he was soliciting H-1Bs as his cover there.]

    —–

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/afghanistan-pakistan/david-headley/terror-group-recruits-from-pakistans-best-and-brightest/

    Terror Group Recruits From Pakistan’s “Best and Brightest”
    April 4, 2013, 3:38 pm ET by Sebastian Rotella ProPublica

    Watch A Perfect Terrorist, FRONTLINE and ProPublica’s investigation into the mysterious circumstances behind American David Coleman Headley’s rise from heroin dealer and U.S. government informant to plotter of the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

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