Over the years of watching the H-1B work visa situation, I’ve seen many people, both journalists and ordinary citizens, say that H-1B would become an election issue. I’ve countered that it won’t become an issue, because the affected American workers haven’t organized. No pressure, thus no issue. That seems to be the case this year as well.
Granted, Trump did draw some attention to H-1B during the primaries, causing some of the other Republican candidates to move somewhat away from their previous support of the visa. But once Trump sealed up the nomination, we’ve heard very little about the issue from either Trump or his party. There was ust one very fleeting reference to it during last week’s convention, at least in the speeches I watched.
During the Democratic primaries, the H-1B issue never came up in a single debate. Even my candidate, Bernie Sanders, was usually pretty mum about it, except in one speech he made near Disneyland late in the campaign (referring to the Disney H-1B scandal).
Michael Bloomberg did mention H-1B in his speech this evening — as a way to criticize Trump, who has admitted to hiring H-1Bs in his businesses. He accused Trump of hypocrisy — an incredible statement by Bloomberg, in view of his fervent public support for H-1B, including heading an organization that advocates for the visa, and of course in view of the fact that his own business hires lots of H-1Bs. In fact, I just did a quick check of the employer-sponsored green card data of the last 15 years, and found that 91 contained the word “Trump” — while 2087 of them contained “Bloomberg.” Oh, well, at least Bloomberg brought up the issue, which is more than the Democrats have been doing.
Recently, though, Hillary was asked about H-1B. She in fact did indicate sympathy, but made allusions to countering “economic arguments,” possibly referring to the work of people like Giovanni Peri who claim that H-1B is a net job creator. Giovanni has enormous credibility in the Obama White House, and by extension the Democratic Party. That credibility is misguided and naive (or maybe just convenient), in my view, but I think it’s fair to say that Hillary believes that “economic argument,” and I believe the IT worker who accused her of treating victims of H-1B as “collateral damage” was right on point.
As has been noted, Clinton has a long history of active support for the “Infosyses,” the firms that hire H-1Bs and then rent them out to other employers, including Disney. The other day, top Democratic Party figure Ed Rendell said unequivocably that we need H-1B because of a STEM labor shortage, in spite of ovewhelming evidence to the contrary. Another major party figure, Leon Panetta, has a daughter who is an official in IEEE-USA, which has pushed for Staple a Green Card (see below). Hillary’s running mate, Tim Kaine, supports the notorious I-Squared Act, which would drastically raise the H-1B cap. And as even Hillary admitted, she wants to use H-1B as a wedge to get the Republicans to support amnesty for the illegals.
Worst of all, Trump and Clinton actually agree on one crucial aspect of foreign tech worker policy — Staple a Green Card, a proposal to give automatic green cards to foreign STEM students earning grad degrees in the U.S. As I have explained before, if Staple in enacted, it really won’t matter what happens with H-1B; even if Congress were to seriously clip the wings of the Infosyses (won’t happen anyway), Disney, SCE, Abbott etc. will just hire the Staple workers. In other words, no matter which candidate wins the presidency, he/she will support Staple. This should be a very sobering thought to everyone who is concerned about the foreign tech worker issue.
If U.S. techies really did organize, I believe their first priority should be to try to derail Staple.