Major Breitbart Analysis of H-1B and Related Issues

Press coverage of H-1B and other foreign tech worker issues has generally been scant for the last 10 years or so. By contrast, H-1B was on every major TV network news show in 1998-2000, along with fairly good coverage by the New York Times and Washington Post. The SCE and Disney scandals did result in some lengthy articles in the Times during the last year, but even those were biased in favor of the mainstream tech industry, a point I’ll come back to below.

Computerworld has been giving excellent coverage to this topic since at least as far back as 1997, and the Science Careers online site has also been first rate. By the way, the latter has a new review of the Malkin-Miano book Sold Out that is well worth reading.

For general news sources, Breitbart has stood out, and just published one of the most in-depth articles on H-1 I’ve ever seen, a must-read. In this post I’ll amplify on some of the comments made by the reporter, Neil Munro, and will also take him to task a bit.

Munro’s main complaint seems to be that the vast majority of journalists who write articles on H-1B refer to the 85,000 yearly limit for new visas, without mentioning that there are categories exempt from the cap, chiefly involving universities (and their industrial partners), that add tens of thousands more foreign STEM workers into the U.S. labor force.

To me, it isn’t such a big deal. I don’t think the universities should have exemptions from the cap (and they did not always have this privilege), but I don’t think the reporting on this issue has been severely distorted by the omission. Nevertheless, Munro raises a good question, asking how this omission has occurred.

He says it is because the reporters “have been kept in the dark” by the industry and other entities with vested interests in the H-1B program. But that really says that the press is lazy; even a cursory look into information on the visa would quickly show that there are exempt categories.

But Munro also suggests that part of the press’ blindness on this issue is that they tend to be ideologically quite pro-immigration, even to the point of describing immigration as a “civil rights issue.” He quotes Mark Krikorian and me on this, but is also speaking from his own experience as a member of the journalistic community.

Munro cites Julia Preston of the New York Times as a case in point, and it is fascinating:

The New York Times’s Julia Preston is a leading example. In 2013, at a semi-public event in Washington D.C., she described the push by business groups and progressives to win amnesty for the roughly 12 million migrants living in the United States as “a very substantial civil rights movement.”

Preston admitted that she empathized with the migrants. When covering a meeting of young advocates for illegal immigration, “seven hundred kids got out of their chairs and kind of came forward and… embraced [some of their] parents… and I’m just sitting there going, ‘How come I can’t get this kind of game from my daughter?’” she said. Her support for migrants is also driven by her employers’ ideology, she admitted. “There is a strong understanding on the editorial desk and at the masthead of the New York Times, that this issue is about the heart and soul of the United States, and who we are going to be as a nation going forward,” she said.

This is strong stuff, “the heart and soul of the United States”! I feel compelled to disclose, then, that Preston is the “mystery journalist” I‘ve mentioned before:

Many of my readers think the MSM [mainstream media] is horribly biased on H-1B issues. I’ve generally defended the MSM, saying they are merely ignorant, victims of the tech industry’s relentless PR campaigns to implant in the American consciousness the ideas that we have a STEM labor shortage, that the foreign STEM students are all geniuses, etc. But I must say that even I was taken aback by something a reporter from a top MSM outlet recently said to me in an e-mail exchange. I had corrected her terming H-1B visa holders as “immigrants” (many hope to immigrate, but H-1B is simply a temporary work visa), she replied,

I am aware that the term of law for foreign workers on temporary visas is “non-immigrant.” But it is legal jargon that we avoid [at this MSM outlet], in no small part because its tone is insulting to the foreigners. (From non-immigrant to non-person is not a long way.)

I had written here before on the manipulation of language by the industry PR people, but “insulting”? “Non-person”? Really? The above statements by a journalist at a major newspaper are really laughable — and pathetic. It is this sense of things spinning out of control in the country that are making the “outsiders” so attractive to many voters these days.

Munro adds,

…since 2012, Preston has written several powerful articles about the H-1B’s impact on middle-aged American tech-experts at Disney, Southern California Edison and Toys ‘R’ Us. But [she] has not mentioned the university exemption.

Again, I don’t think Preston’s failure to mention the exemption is so terrible, but I have been highly critical of her articles on SCE etc., because they give the impression that abuse of H-1B occurs mainly among the “Infosyses,” the rent-a-programmer firms, and not the “Intels,” the mainstream companies. I’ve written on this point often, and won’t repeat myself here, but my point is that Munro has missed the boat here, as Preston’s “powerful” articles on SCE etc. should be seen as her defending “the System,” actually affirming that H-1B is used responsibly by the Intels. Indeed, she ignored the information I gave her showing the contrary.

The System includes OPT, heavily used by the Intels, and Liz Robbins, a Times reporter who later wrote another piece on H-1B, also defended this.  I wrote,

There is also a related article in today’s New York Times.

There isn’t much in the Times article. On the contrary, though balanced in terms of space, the reporter (newly transferred to the immigration beat from the sports desk) seems to buy into the DHS claim that we “must” retain the foreign students — and indeed, attract them here in the first place — come hell or high water. Given my research and that of others regarding the overall lower quality of the foreign students, why the mad rush to grab them? Or better, why is there no push to give H-1B and green card priority to the top foreign students, as befits our national interest?

By the way, Munro describes me as someone “who often speaks to reporters,” implying that I contact them rather than their seeking me. Actually, the latter is almost always the case. I did in fact contact Preston, but with Robbins, it was the way things usually work — she contacted me and asked for an interview. I spent an hour talking to her outside on a very hot summer day (she called earlier than our agreed-upon time, when I was driving, so I parked the car and talked to her on the street). And she got it; she understood what I said quite well, and asked good questions. Yet none of that appeared in the article, and other than a brief quote of John Miano, the entire article was pro-OPT. Indeed, another academic who had spent a lot of time with her when she contacted him also was omitted from her article.

It’s worth mentioning at this point, as I occasionally do, that I have no personal stake in the H-1B issue. Lots of reporters contact me but with my quotes not making the cut, and that is absolutely fine. But Robbins’ article was so biased, and appeared in our nation’s leading newspaper to boot. Munro’s material on the Times above makes all the pieces fit together. Preston’s words about those who opposed the 2013 Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill, “It gets really ugly out there,” seem to describe the Times pretty well too.

Munro, unfortunately, dropped the ball in his analysis of university hiring of H-1Bs, as professors, researchers and so on. WHY do they do this? The main answer is that so many STEM PhDs at U.S. universities are awarded to international students, and THAT IN TURN is due to the flooding of the market by those students, in a vicious cycle. As I’ve often pointed out, a 1989 government memo actually forecast this (and supported it) — foreign students would swell the PhD labor market, causing stagnant wages, resulting in domestic students avoiding doctoral study, so that universities would admit even more foreign students, and so on. This too is almost never mentioned in press accounts by the Prestons and Robbinses (and the latter did know about it), and it’s far more important than failing to point out the cap exemptions.

H-1B, OPT, green cards and so on are complex issues, no doubt about it, but our journalists are failing the nation. Freedom of the press includes the right to print uninformed or downright biased material, but this is a sad state of affairs we’re in.

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41 thoughts on “Major Breitbart Analysis of H-1B and Related Issues

  1. Sadly, the problem of the colleges and universities obtaining their exemption from the annual H-1B Visa admissions began in 1976 with the passage of the obscure “Eilberg Amendment.” To obtain more details, you may locate my writings on the topic by searching for both terms, “Eilberg Amendment” and “Gene Nelson.”

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    • Using Google on 07 January 2016, a total of 31 results to this above query were returned. Several of the results are full articles.

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  2. I have seen public data on individual post doc salaries at one of my state universities in the $36,000/year range. I have seen masters degree researchers, albeit with family ties to the PI in the lab, with salaries 2 to 3 times as much. It is unclear whether these are J-1, OPT or H-1B wages; no matter which, it is no wonder that US citizens and current legal residents wish to pursue PhDs if a post doc is almost a requirement for a permanent job.

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  3. I never thought about things like this from 1976 to 2007, but I’ve thought a lot about it since then.

    We are all people, but we can be split into two categories which are capital aka business owners and labor aka people that just want a check to provide for their families.

    If we left society (capital and labor) alone like this, all advantage would be on the capital side and we would find ourselves living in a world like we are in now where peoples lives are being destroyed so that capital can be more efficient and grow ever bigger.

    I don’t think any of us would agree that society, or humanity in that manner will work.

    Which is why we brought in government to balance capital and labor.

    Think of it like a see-saw or the lady justice scales that have existed in the communities of the world for generations.

    But if we elect those that will run government as a business, we quickly find ourselves back at the point where all advantage goes to capital.

    So how do we enforce the “balancing” of capital and labor by government?

    This is where I believe the media comes in and we messed up really bad when we let our media be acquired by 6 very large corporations that care only for capital and believe it is ok to treat labor as a disposable commodity while government hides its head in the sands of denial and refuses to count the discouraged workers that litter the landscape.

    Society will only work if we make this balance.

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    • Except that in 1985, 5 years before H-1B was hatched, and about 5 years after tax changes goosed contingent/temp/bodyshopping most production workers were also stock-owners. Even so, the boards would give themselves many more shares as a “performance incentive”. So, you have a dozen people or so (some boards are huge, but my totally subjective impression from a small sample and some articles about effective small work groups is that they often run from 6-15) controlling and trying to distort the compensation scales to their own personal benefit.

      OTOH, the market provides disincentives to that; they can deviate from meritocracy only so far before wrecking the company.

      It’s monthly employment/unemployment massive data dump day. Be sure to wade more deeply than the headlines.

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  4. >>> our journalists are failing the nation. Freedom of the press includes the right to print uninformed or downright biased material, but this is a sad state of affairs we’re in

    Very very very succinct – Amen to that!

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  5. I think the “university and research center exemption” is very important.

    How many STEM professionals get their start working at a university or research center? My impression is that it may be as high as 30%. If they’re using H-1B to bring in guest-workers, or even preferentially convert the foreign students to guest-work status, it undermines those first steps on the career-ladder. No internship, no solid work experience, more debt, lower chances for what we used to call that first “real” non-academia job, less chance to do interesting work at the national research centers.

    On the 28th, there was an article about the movie “The Martian” and its author. Started programming at age 15 at Sandia National Labs (got 2 offers from there, myself…but several even better offers elsewhere at the time), back around 1987. Andy Weir started university at UCSD in 2010. Wie kann das sein?! I thought anyone without university credentials was “unqualified”, incapable of doing STEM work. That’s what the execs and idiotorial boards have been assuming, and trying to hammer into everyone else.

    Another reason it is important is magnitude. They mention 65K because that seems to the to be a trifling number, though for many unemployed and under-employed USA STEM professionals, that number seems huge, at least an order of magnitude too many, and perhaps 2 orders of magnitude excessive when we look around us at what is being done. Sometimes they mention the 20K exemption as an excuse to imply that these 20K guest-workers are certainly brilliant, “highly-skilled”, etc. But then most media people incorrectly assume and assert that all foreign STEM workers are “highly-skilled”, “best and brightest” and all grounds-keepers and house-keepers and agricultural and meat-packing and construction workers are “low-skilled” when many are quite bright, skilled and knowledgeable. Many of the literati simply dismiss those particular skills and that knowledge and intelligence as beneath notice.

    But, back here in reality, over 162,369 H-1B visas were issued in FY2014, 153,794 in FY2013, 135,991 in FY2012, 129,552 in FY2011… Constantly building up the pool of wasted talent, building up the barriers against USA STEM professionals’ careers, attacking them at the beginning — OPT — through the end by facilitating age discrimination and refusal of employers and gate-keepers to so much as consider the long-term unemployed and under-employed (mere months in their thinking)… and undermining ethical standards.

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    • I agree that the role of colleges and universities is key in the above illustrations of “class warfare.” The problem is that the growth of these policies was promoted by the economic elite leaders of colleges and universities. As Eric Weinstein, Ph.D. noted over two decades ago, there is a “moral peril” in this approach as the elites do not bear the costs of their decisions. (In fact, the economic elites are enriched by the promotion of these policies that fail to serve the national interest.)

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    • mib8..I want to put things in perspective regarding your statement ‘162,369 H-1B visas were issued in FY2014, 153,794 in FY2013, 135,991 in FY2012, 129,552 in FY2011…’.

      H1b visa needs to be renewed every 2-3 years, so in essence large portion of ‘162,369 H-1B visas were issued in FY2014’ are the people who were issued an H1b visa in FY2011 (‘129,552 in FY2011’). These people need to put forward a new petition( or get a new visa) every 2-3 years. So basically the numbers which are being cited here are cumulative in nature. I guess it’s a moot point anyway, since you have already made up your mind based on half truths and few negative cases. Yes, I am all for tightening up H1b/OPT regulations so that bad actor employees are weeded out. Any employer worth his salt prefers to employ a American/Legal resident because of ‘culture’ issue and ease of employment. Companies which do otherwise are basically looking to ‘fill up’ jobs which would have been outsourced anyway (I doubt if Americans/Legal residents would even prefer to join such jobs).

      Believe me when i say an employer (I am one myself) could care less about 10k in savings/ss/medicare, if that employee’s output is either good or bad, which can make or break a company. You and I, we are currently living in a globalized economy and if the attitude towards these programs continue this way, then companies will go wherever the talent and resources are. Again, I want to repeat I am all tightening up H1b/OPT regulations but bills like Cruz/Sessions do no good. Either Masters with 10 years experience or PHD with 2 years experience….Really?? Do they really think that those jobs are gonna go to unemployed americans?

      Regarding low-paying jobs vis-a-vis post doctorals, I see lot of parallels with students/practitioners in medicine, who are lowly paid until they became full time residents. I agree that I may not have full picture in this area (post docs etc) but i find it strange that Phds/scientists of foreign origin agree to low paying post-doc jobs (if there is really a wage suppression..) who would be paid pretty well if they get into the industry.

      Looking at the comments here reminds me of an exchange in a recent movie, The Big Short towards the end . It goes as follows:-
      ———-
      Steve Carell: They knew the tax-payers would bail them out, they weren’t stupid, they just didn’t care!

      Steve Carell’s associate: Yeah, ’cause they’re fucking crooks!

      Steve Carell: But, at lest we’re gonna see some of them go to jail………Right?

      Steve Carell’s associate: We need to gonna have to break up the banks. The party is over!

      Steve Carell: I don’t know, I don’t know… I have a feeling, that in a few years, people are gonna do,
      what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poor people.
      ———-

      Thank you.

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      • So you really think a post doc in Zoology could go into industry instead? You were correct when you said you don’t know that realm.

        The 10K figure is misleadingly low; see my other reply.

        I’m sorry, but you just don’t know who is out there. I recently told one American that if the court really does vacate OPT, he should immediately apply for the jobs for which he had been rejected. One employer in particular had told him that they prefer to hire foreign students because they are cheap and docile.

        One super-top Silicon Valley firm told a group of us researchers quite explicitly that they hire foreign students because of the immobility.

        I’ll reply to your exchange with one of my own, real-life not a movie:

        In 1998, I spoke at a conference organized by the industry and the Dept. of Commerce. Afterward, a man approached me and said, “You’re wrong. I’m a tech employer, and I really am desperate to hire.” I replied, “My wife is a software engineer. I’ll ask her to apply to your firm. Her surname is different from mine, so you won’t know it’s my wife, and we’ll see how desperate you are.” He immediately backpedalled, saying, “She’s probably too expensive for us!” THAT of course was the nature of his labor “shortage” and “need” to hire H-1Bs.

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        • I find it weird that foreign students are considered to be immobile especially on OPT/OPT Extension when they don’t have to be. Unlike H1b, they are not tied to a particular employer. Even while applying for an H1b, with the current lottery system, there is absolutely no guarantee of an H1b visa for a masters and above student. A employer diverts his resources to train these people for couple of months and get them up to speed only to lose them due to various immigration hassles?? Again, I am not denying that there are bad actors out there but they are of the kind who do not ethically follow the rules anyway ( we need to tighten up the regulations).

          Regarding your statement about foreign students being cheap and docile, I agree that it could be a case for first couple of months, when the student himself doesn’t know his market value. After couple of months or an year or so, he/she would definitely start looking out for other higher paying jobs.

          Norm…you may cete your sources about how ‘these’ foreigners and cheap and docile but I can also cete numerous sources, especially recruiters and engineering managers from different companies, where they lament about not being able to find good candidates. Now, it can’t be so black and white, is it?

          About the man who approached you about after a conference, It’s funny I said the same thing to my classmate too, when he joked about joining my company, while I was looking to fill up 2 positions where i needed good candidates with 0-3 years of work ex, pay being up to market standards ( roundabout 100-110k and slightly above but we are no googles and facebooks though :)). I agree that ageism is an issue which is a serious problem in software industry but just not in a way you think it is. I would have to think over a lot of times before I/We employ a person with say 15-20 years of work ex who applies to the above mentioned job. In so many ways, he is qualified enough to do the job but I would be very worried about the motivational levels of a person who in spite of his experience applies to kind of entry level positions rather applying for say principal engineer/architect positions. You would rather want to hire a person who ticks all boxes and shows promise of a good career progression. Money is a moot point in these matters.

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          • You really ought to read my writings. I can’t give detailed answers to your (very reasonable, though a bit condescending) questions in this small space. I would suggest in particular http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/Mich.pdf , http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/CLER.pdf , http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/MigLtrs.pdf , and http://www.epi.org/publication/bp356-foreign-students-best-brightest-immigration-policy/

            The immobility, as I’ve written many times, stems from green card sponsorship. This is a very big deal, even more so than wage savings (though as a side benefit, it enables wage savings). Again, a hugely prominent Silicon Valley firm told us researchers explicitly that this is why they like hiring foreign workers. I can’t name the company, but let’s just say that it’s name has 6-8 letters. 🙂 The people who told us this were a senior engineering manager and an HR person. This was emphasized in the Immigration Voice testimony to Congress, and other SV employers have said it privately.

            I know you mean well, but you just don’t understand the dynamics here that lead an older worker to apply for an entry level position. I’ve seen countless examples of older Americans, highly qualified (very smart, fancy degrees, team players) who CANNOT EVEN GET INTERVIEWS, at the same time that my foreign students get interviews and jobs FROM THOSE SAME EMPLOYERS. This is the reality, and H-1B plays a central role — the employers are hiring young foreign workers instead of older Americans.

            By the way, if you are rejecting older Americans sight unseen on speculation such as you describe above, you are probably violating the law.

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  6. The article mentions jobs such as doctors and lawyers. These jobs are “guest worker proof”. These jobs required a license. Other such jobs include dentists, opticians, and pharmacists.

    You will find listings for these jobs in the guest worker databases. What you need to keep in mind is that these workers already have a license. To get the license requires training at a US school. The number of slots available at these US schools determines the number of workers allow to work in the US.

    Suppose a company wants to “import” a dentist in an attempt to lower costs. It will not work. The number of dentists allowed to practice in the country is controlled by the number of dental graduates from US schools. The company can not bring in a dentist who was trained outside the US. Not even the “genius visa” will work. The dentist must have received training or additional training in the US and have a license. Furthermore the company can not employ a dentist. At most the company can lease or rent the dental office to the dentist. The dentist has to be an independent contractor or be employed by another dentist. Also fee splitting arrangements are only allow between dentists.

    Suppose a company wants to “import” a PhD computer scientist trained outside of the US. No problem.

    Suppose the number of guest workers where suddenly increase to 10,000,000. This will not affect doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc. Why? Because the number of these workers allow to work in the US is determined by the number of graduates from US schools. The number of graduates from schools outside the US does not make a difference. The US schools are the gatekeepers and not guest worker laws.

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    • As the industry lobbyists point out, more than 50% of PhDs in CS awarded by U.S. universities go to foreign students. I explained in my posting that this came from, in essence, driving the American students out. I can’t tell from your comments whether you support this.

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    • Joe, you are close but not quite there. The gate keepers in those professions are the professional bodies which set the terms and issue the licenses not the schools. Computer Science has no such profession, which is why you see Universities closing off applications from domestic students in preference for foreign students because all they have to do is collect the money and hand out a diploma, and are not also burdened with also ensuring the students meet the standards of the licensing professional body. This supports the claim that foreign students aren’t as good as their domestic peers, otherwise they’d be accepted at equal rates in to these more selective programs.

      The average “best and brightest” H-1B holder has a masters degree (so the employer can avoid H-1B dependency scrutiny) from a lesser university system, needed further training through the OPT system, and makes 70k/yr maintaining ERP systems in the basement IT department of a national bank or insurance company.

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      • I agree with most of what you say, but I guarantee you, if software developers had to be licensed, the vast majority of the foreign students would qualify. I don’t think much of licensing, but there you are.

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        • I too think little of licensing.
          One of the best programmers I ever worked with smokes a cigar, drinks whiskey, rides a harley and never took any classes as he was self-taught.

          In my studies the last 7 years I’ve noticed that the H-1B non immigrant worker displacement really took off when the DOL stated that software developers required a degree.

          That is why I believe a lot of people like myself can no longer buy an interview.
          That and age, of course.

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          • VERY interesting! Prior to 2014, were software developers listed as not requiring a degree? I hate to sound paranoid, but this does seem like they made the change for H-1B, in response to pressure from the industry.

            Note too that DOL lists this occupation as NOT requiring on-the-job training. That is contrary to the Obama proposal to extend OPT to 36 months.

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          • I’ve been unable to find a specific start date.

            Speaking from my own personal experience, nobody ever asked me for a degree as being able to do the job was what they were after.

            Around 2001 I hired a guy that told me it was bad out there and I didn’t believe him.

            I jumped ship in feb 2003 thinking I could find work in austin and I never was able to find long term work after that, so I’m suspecting the 2000 time frame as everybody I have talked too, around 2000 is when it started going to hell for them.

            this is the article that got me to digging on it

            http://keepamericaatwork.com/so-the-dept-of-labor-is-responsible-for-displacing-americans-in-america/

            The government’s reliance on technology services firms, including labor brokers, surged in the 1990s as technology advanced and boomed. This fiscal year, the federal government expects to spend at least $79 billion on information technology, with many agencies relying heavily on private contractors.

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      • ERP. Grump. “IT”. It seemed like a pretty good idea back in 1983. Could be good, sometimes… But in practice seems mostly bad, abusive.

        Ditto recent news about more cross-department & -agency integration of federal government data-bases. On rare occasions it could be good, but 99.9% of the time even the mostly-good applications are being and will be used for corrupt purposes contrary to the Bill of Rights.

        Licensing and craftsman guilds and some historical forms of “incorporation” we’re all attempts by the board thugs to engage in crony socialism for their personal benefit at the cost of others. OTOH, the free cities which came out of that made the people in them more free in some ways and gave them a place to flee to for shelter against certain other gangsters. Eventually the guild rules and standards impaired innovation and placed city-states (e.g. in present-day Italy) with powerful guild systems at a disadvantage to more flexible city-states (e.g. of the Low Countries/BeNeLux). And then the countries with better navies prevailed over them for reasons good (advances in technology) and ill (piracy).

        But why can’t we all be peaceful and honest, exchange value for value, while retaining the ability for self-defense against those who initiate such force and fraud. It’s a conundrum. Seek not utopia because you will get dystopia.

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  7. There is another point no one seems to have mentioned yet: because of the large number of foreign students who earn their PhDs in biomedical research and decide to stay in the country, many of the labs are now run by foreigners. In my daughter’s case, the first lab she was assigned to had a lab director from India. He favored one of his foreign PhD candidates, and spoke with him in Hindi, while yelling at her constantly and actually reducing her to tears on an almost daily basis. His discrimination against her led her to request a change in lab assignment.

    The second lab she was assigned to had a Chinese director. And guess what happened? He had a favored assistant who spoke Chinese. Not only that, but based on the conduct of the director, and his insistence on having her do the research over and over and over again until she got the result he wanted (and she never did get the result he wanted, because the data did not prove what he wanted it to prove!), she had to transfer out of the second lab as well.

    My daughter finally got assigned to a third lab with an American director, where she was able to actually prove herself, do legitimate research, and obtain her PhD. Of course, there were so few postdoc jobs available when she graduated, that she was forced into a pay scale that was below the poverty level. And, as you can imagine, when one is little more than an indentured servant, it becomes very difficult if not impossible to stand up for the research protocols and standards that a scientist is taught to uphold. If you don’t do what you are told, and get the results you are told to get, there are hundreds of other PhDs just waiting to take your place.

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    • Imagine the difficulties of a junior faculty member with colleagues described in labs one and two above. They refused to allow the junior faculty member’s equipment to be installed in the shared space while allowing corporate equipment and manufacturing activities for one of the faculty member’s company to go on without authorization or reimbursement for the use of the university’s facilities. (It was a public institution with records available for review.)

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  8. 1) Based your paper in which you argue about “foreign students have on average lower quality than US domestic counterparts”, I would say your analysis, which I assume is true, can only conclude foreign students are not necessarily better than US domestic students. “Not necessarily” is important here because you can conclude differently if you draw sample from a top 30 US university versus you draw sample from any random US college.

    2) All those bad horses who help reduce the quality of foreign students are very unlikely to find a job and stay in the US. They serve nothing but cash cattle. Companies are not so stupid that they will hire someone who cannot do the job

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    • I’ll address your point (2) first, by simply saying you are wrong. As you gain more and more experience in the work world, you will encounter lots of low-quality people who are hired by good employers.

      As to (1), I’m really not sure what your point is. I have several measures in my paper. Some of them involve all foreign students, while others deal with the top. One measure you may find interesting is that the foreign students tend to get their degrees from substantially lower-ranked institutions, compared to the Americans. This was also the finding of Bound et al.

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      • Matt…..you say ‘As you gain more and more experience in the work world, you will encounter lots of low-quality people who are hired by good employers’ ? I agree…but why would an employer (not the bad actors) go through so much trouble (immigration hassles/work permits etc) for a low-quality foreigner? So that he gets to save 10k per year or so? In large scheme of things, these numbers don’t even matter, since a good/bad employee can make or break a project/company.

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        • Ah, you are missing the main point: The employer THINKS those low-quality people are actually of good quality.

          That 10K/yr figure isn’t mine; the savings are much bigger, especially with the age factor. And as I often point out, the immobility factor is even more important to employers than the wage savings.

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          • If immobility is a factor, it won’t be the case anymore due to recent executive actions of president obama, which aids to increase job portability. Also, Can you please point me to a source where they come up with numbers for savings? I would be very interested in knowing numbers regarding ‘wage suppression’.

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          • The recent action Obama is just a proposal, and there are H-1B activists who have claimed here, correctly I believe, that that proposal (12/31) will have much less benefit to the foreign workers than the press has claimed.

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    • Most large IT consulting companies do not really whether their staff are very good, so long as the company is able to charge for them. In fact, for those companies, there are many benefits to hiring less capable workers for the development work.

      Firstly, they are less prone to challenge foolish management directions or “create trouble.”

      Secondly, if they take longer, that actually provides more revenue and profit for the consulting company, providing the client lacks the expertise required to assess projects. Most multi-million dollar government IT projects fall into that category.

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      • True that. I agree with most of what you said regarding ‘IT’ companies ( vis-a-vis Infosyses, Accentures etc). These regulations need to be tightened up ..no doubt. The clients need to start making smarter decisions for their own companies too.

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      • I always fumed when my former employer brought in one of the big name consulting firms to evaluate how we did our jobs and make recommendations on how we could do them better with some software package they were trying to sell. First, the people doing the analysis were right out of school and had no clue about the industry or the functional requirements of the application I was trying to implement. I loved to see their eyes glaze over when I told them the problem had no one solution but a number of potential ones where the optimal one could be different based on the design specifications and other criteria unassociated with the operational performance – i.e transportation size limits and construction costs. Iterate to convergence was a concept beyond their comprehension. These are not unfamiliar implementation considerations. These were not necessarily guest workers just business school grads trying to tell an engineer how to do engineering design.

        Needless to say, management was known to purchase totally inappropriate software packages that had to be integrated with ones that were appropriate.

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  9. > Freedom of the press includes the right to print uninformed or downright biased material, but this is a sad state of affairs we’re in.

    True. I recently found out the hard way that, if you want to find recent news on all sides regarding a topic, do not simply google the topic under the category of news. The topic that I was googling was George Borjas, a labor economist. If you google “George Borjas” under the category of news for the past month, you’ll see two entries for the article “An immigrant isn’t going to steal your pay raise” by Noah Smith and Bloomberg. It recounts how in 2015, Borjas took a second look at the widely cited 1990 paper by David Card on the Mariel boatlift which concluded that the effect of the boatlift on the wages of Miami workers was negligible. Borjas found that the boatlift did have a negative effect on low-wage Miami workers. Then, in December of 2015, economists Giovanni Peri and Vasil Yasenov came out with working paper that critiqued Borjas’ analysis. Both the working paper and the article were very critical of the Borjas paper.

    I therefore continued to follow “George Borjas” in the news category to see if he would write a response. A briefly saw the article “The New Debate Over the Mariel Boatlift” at http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2016/01/05/the_new_debate_over_the_mariel_boatlift_1510.html but it has since disappeared from the google results. That article references a response from Borjas at http://www.hks.harvard.edu/fs/gborjas/publications/working%20papers/Mariel2015a.pdf . Now one would think that both of these items would qualify as news regarding “George Borjas”. However, they still do not appear in a google result under the category of news for the past month. Neither do they appear under the topic of “Mariel boatlift” under the news category for the past month but they do appear under the All category. I suspect that one reason for this is that the news category refers to news as reported by what is usually thought of as the media. The article that references Borjas’ response appears in a blog and Borjas’ response itself is self-published. Hence, don’t count on the news category of google search to give you news from all sides. It seems to just give news as reported by the big media outlets.

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  10. Also unnoticed by the Main Stream Media is the E-3 visa which allows 10,500 Australian citizens to work in the United States. It is like the H-1B but has the added attraction of allowing a spouse to work as well. Unlike the H-1B it is undersubscribed with thousands unused. Australian citizens would expect wages compatible to Americans so there is less wage savings hence not all are used.

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