I’ve received a number of reader responses, public and private, to my posting yesterday, in which I pointed out that Congress responds to pressure, pure and simple, and does generally NOT respond to well-reasoned arguments offered without pressure. But these readers point out the obvious: If they speak out publicly, they are subject to blacklisting by potential employers. I myself have mentioned this in the past.
In one case, the applicant had a great phone interview and was flown across the country at the employer’s expense for the on-site interview. On-site, he was asked no technical questions to speak of, just friendly chatting. But one of the people who talked to him brought up the fact that the applicant had made a crtiical statement on H-1B to the press. Guess what! He didn’t get the job.
By the way, another piece of political reality that concerned tech workers must keep in mind: If you simply write a letter to your members of Congress, it will only be tallied, For or Against; no one will read it in detail. And the tallier will likely be an intern, even a high school student, and may not have enough background to even get your For/Against status correct. This can especially be likely if your letter is buried in a mountain of letters from the other side, e.g. H-1Bs, immigration lawyers and so on.
My advice — speaking as someone with no personal stake in H-1B — is to do what the lobbyists do. Call, better yet meet with, your members of Congress or their staffs; meet with newspaper editorial boards (did you think those pro-H-1B editorials come from nowhere?); educate journalists and talk show hosts; go to town hall meetings held by politicians; write op-eds and above all, organize, starting with revitalizing the Programmers Guild. And when you do things, know your stuff, the fine details of H-1B issues; otherwise you will be dismissed as not worth talking to.
And yes, there is some risk, but the alternative is possible legislation and regulations coming from the new administration that will make matters even worse than before, even though they sound like an improvement. I’ve been predicting for years that the eventual “reform” would make the problems worse, not better. And my forecasting track record has been pretty good, as Computerworld‘s Pat Thibodeau once pointed out. 🙂