The Durbin-Grassley(-Khanna) Bill

Following up on my post yesterday, I can now report that Rep. Khanna continues to tweet furiously on the H-1B issue and on my views of it. Here is yet another exchange between him and Alan Tonelson:

Replying to @AlanTonelson @mercnews
> He [Matloff] fears it [the median-wage provision] would be stripped away in negotiation but I don’t believe that to be the case. The best part of bill is raising the wage!…He acknowledges that the [Durbin-Grassley H-1B reform] bill would create a median wage! That’s a big step forward. That’s the best part of the bill

Well, this is major progress! A couple of days ago he accused me of not knowing the bill well, and now (after Alan pointed him to my blog post on D-G) he admits that I know the bill after all. This should have been clear during the VOA debate between him and me, when I stated that yes, I had read the bill in full, that I knew the people who drafted the bill etc.

But even more interestingly, he now states, correctly, that he and I agree. His comment above, “That’s the best part of the bill,” is quite consistent with my blog post, in which I stated:

I have endorsed Grassley’s previous bills — but only because I found one particular feature useful: The bills would redefine the official prevailing wage to be the median in the given occupation and region, overall, not broken down according to experience levels.

As he notes, what I also said was,

Unfortunately, the new bill suffers from exactly the same problems, and indeed makes things worse, in my opinion. Granted, the old prevailing wage redefinition provision is still there, BUT that provision was the first one to be emasculated in negotiations in the old Grassley bills. I’m sure it would not survive in the current one either.

I’ve been writing about the H-1B issue for nearly 25 years (!). I’ve seen a lot of bills come and go. The median-wage provision was the first to be deleted (actually, greatly weakened), and yes, it would happen again for the same reasons (the age issue).

I don’t doubt that Rep. Khanna means well (in his calmer moments). Thus I don’t blame him for cosponsoring a House version of the D-G bill. But he is unaware of this legislative history, e.g. the statement made back in 1996 by Senate Immigration Subcommittee Chair Alan Simpson, 

I was working with the business community…to address their concerns, [but] each time we resolved one, they became more creative, more novel.

He also is unaware of — or refuses to believe — that the industry firms that hire foreign students from U.S. university campuses (the “Intels,” firms that D-G rewards) are just as culpable as the outsourcing firms (the “Infosyses,” that D-G punishes). It was the Intels who shot down that median-wage provision in one of the earlier versions of D-G, and unless and until Khanna understands that, he will continue to write shrill tweets defending the bill.

He can start understanding that point by taking me up on my offer to give him the name of the Google HR person who stated that Google prefers to hire international students over Americans because the foreigners essentially cannot leave Google for another employer. Recall that this exchange during the debate about my comments about Google,

Khanna reacted quite sharply to this, his voice rising. “This is a very serious charge! You have no proof! Who at Google said this? What are their names?” I replied that I had stated this publicly before without objection from Google, and then said, “I’ll give you the name of the HR person, who by the way is now at Facebook. You should call Google.” But of course he did not take me up on the offer.

Khanna asked for this name! My offer to supply it to him still stands, as I said yesterday.

And if he is reluctant to go that route, he can check the sources I cited during the debate that show that this kind of abuse of the foreign students is widespread, such as

  • the NRC report commissioned by Congress
  • statements by Immigration Voice (including congressional testimony), an organization of foreign workers, stating that exploitation of the workers waiting for green cards is rampant (note: the Infosyses only rarely sponsor their foreign workers for green cards; GC sponsorship is an Intels practice)
  • the Web site of attorney David Swaim, who designed the immigration operation of Texas Instruments and is now in private practice; Swaim openly urges employers to hire foreign students in lieu of Americans, because of the immobility described above

Again, I do give Khanna credit for meaning well. But if he is indeed well-meaning, he will check with the above sources to get to the bottom of this issue.

Indeed, what he really ought to do if he is truly interested in doing the right thing on H-1B would be to meet with me. Within the last year, I have met with a senior partner of Fragomen, the nation’s largest immigration firm; the federal Dept. of Labor; and the federal EEOC — all at THEIR invitation, not initiated by me. If they believe I have something to say on this issue, maybe Khanna should recognize that, for better or worse, I am the one who “knows where the bodies are buried” on this issue.

The ball is in Mr. Khanna’s court.



22 thoughts on “The Durbin-Grassley(-Khanna) Bill

  1. Professor Matloff. I support you 100%! Thanks for helping the common people. I’ve been in IT for nearly 15 years and the last few has been the worst due to all the H1B coming in.


  2. Mr. Khanna’s lack of kniwledge and preparation are surprising, given he’s sponsoring a bill. His naivete about the power and pervasivenes of corporate lobbying is also surprising. And I guess the openness of the Google people should indicate how little any Congressional oversight concerns them.


      • As the TX InfoSys race lawsuit and Modi’s outbursts yesterday show, there seems to be an undercurrent among Indians that the thing they fear more than anything is that their visa schemes will be found out and exposed at the national level. They seem to get very hostile and angry when anyone even gets near that territory. They want all Americans to see them as “model immigrants” and a benefit to the US. Any suggestion of anything outside the MSM narrative on visas provokes anger among them.

        And Indian manager at a Santa Clara company I worked at in ’04 once told me in his car “I’m afraid the gov’t is going to crack down on immigration”. And he was a very law-abiding, legit VP of a major company. I think deep down, this is the thing they fear more than anything.


    • I am sure he knows all about Corporate Lobbying. It’s my suspicion that NASSCOM/India Inc lobbying put him in office.

      I still ask the question: aren’t some federal laws being violated here – possibly Federal election laws, if not laws on foreign agents. For example there is a Federal law that says all foreign agents must register themselves with the US gov’t. And I am quite sure Fderal election laws on foreign influence are being violated – just as they were in the ’96 election when it was discovered that the Chinese gov’t has put Clinton/Gore in office via illegal donations from a foreign source.

      I think at the least Khanna should be investigated as to where all of his election campaign funds came from. I am more than willing to bet some of them came from India, which would make them illegal too.


      • An Indian-American reader who lives in Khanna’s district (or near it) told me that Khanna has been heavily financed by Indian immigrants, which I’m sure is true. Ironically, the incumbent who Khanna displaced from office, Mike Honda, was originally put into office by well-off (East) Asian-Americans.

        Later, when the Programmers Guild was trying to meet with Honda on H-1B but were refused (at the time), a Chinese-American friend of mine invited me to come to his home were a fundraiser for Honda was being held. So for $500 or whatever, I could talk to Honda but could not do so as an ordinary citizen.


    • I agree. My advice to all young workers now is to save every penny that you can because you cannot count on any help from the government in staying in your career. Just because you have worked successfully in your career for 20 or 30 years doesn’t mean that you won’t be effectively forced totally out of your field tomorrow. I worked in my field for 30 years and now can’t buy an interview. Fortunately, I never quite trusted the industry or the government and prepared for this day.


      • Yes, I discovered this the hard way – I was TOP engineer in the 90s. Only to be forced out mid-2000s. I still get a good gig from time to time because of my background but there is no stable work. Frankly with such a mass oversupply of labor now, I don’t know why anyone would want to work in this field. It’s just too unstable and too unreliable. Even with much higher pay it’s not worth it because the work is too intermittent. And stress levels are high. Better to have an easier job that pays less but has much lower stress and is more reliable. The uncertainty just isn’t worth it.


    • What amazes me even more is that out of millions of displaced American STEM workers, only a handful of people even bother to fight it. One would think there would be 1000s of websites fighting it, not a dozen. It only costs $45/yr to put a website online.

      As one H1B from India told me in amazement: “We take your jobs and you do not even raise your voices!”.


      • Yes, I’ve been saying this for years. Programmers and engineers tend to be very reticent people; they are not joiners, not protestors, not the kind who call their congressperson. On top of that, they are afraid of blacklisting.


  3. H1-b has been around for a generation. In that time since I began my career in academic medical research, the prevailing wage was destroyed. How can one begin to establish what might have been without this horrible visa trashing wages for a generation within many scientific fields? I suggest a master’s in biology, for example, be paid like a master’s in business administration. There’s your prevailing wage!


    • It is precisely the MBAs, lawyers, doctors, bankers who got jealous enough to put an end to well-paid scientific careers. Even Alan Greenspan admitted such in the late 1990s – calling American IT workers “a privileged elite” (never mind we worked 85 hours a week to earn what we made, as well as creating the commercialization of the internet and PCs for the entire world to enjoy).

      There was an article on the web which has since been scrubbed which talked about how all the Wall St. workers (i.e. financial types) got jealous of what Silicon Valley workers made. Never mind we worked harder than Wall St. does (I know because I also used to work at a major exchange on Wall. St. – there’s no comparison).

      The penny-pinching cheap MBAs, and the lawyers such as Cohen & Grigsby became deeply jealous of US tech workers. So did bankers, including the Fed. The overwhleming great success of Silicon Valley in the 1990’s made nearly everyone else in the world jealous. They saw people like Gates and Andreesen become billionaires overnight and everyone wanted in on the party.

      Central bankers and jealous Federal politicians as well as socialists thought being “too” successful was a bad thing. Never mind that top doctors make $400/hr and Wall St’ers make a couple million a year each. Or that Congresspeople make $175K/yr for running the country into the ground. Nope, working 85 a week, every week, for $100K/yr is just too much for them to take. So they destroyed the American STEM profession. Now we just have a slave labor tech world, a collapsed economy, and massive debt. I think I later heard Greenspan or Thom Friedman whine: “There’s no growth!”. Really? Wonder why…..

      Do they even realize their killing of the hyper-productive STEM workforce caused all these messes? Can’t have it both ways, guys. Or as one commenter told me:” What kind of insane country actually attacks its most productive workers”?

      Insane indeed.


  4. Norm you are right on. I was a firm believer in Infosy bad, Intel’ good for years, it wasn’t until I started reading your blog that my eyes were opened. I was skeptical at first, but now I believe the Intels maybe doing more damage than the Infosyss, they layoff older Americans and replace them with guest workers, our kids are left with a college debt and no jobs. It’s like removing the roots and leaves from a tree and wondering why it’s not flourishing. I can’t believe how uninformed our politicians are, nothing worse than someone who things they know, but really don’t writing policy, the Intels will gladly show them the way.

    I will ask Sara Blackwell to start reading you blog.


  5. > Indeed, what he really ought to do if he is truly interested in doing the right thing on H-1B would be to meet with me.

    Agreed. And this time, they should make sure to record it!

    It’s depressing to see that few politicians seem to have any understanding of the situation faced by most native tech workers, especially older ones. On LinkedIn today, I saw that a recruiter had posted the cartoon at . Even the recruiters seem to know how much things have changed!

    On a more serious note, there was a very good article in The Atlantic titled “How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration” with the byline “In the past decade, liberals have avoided inconvenient truths about the issue.” It’s posted at . It’s a long article but some of the interesting things I noticed was a description of how severely Bernie Sanders was criticized for bring up some of the “inconvenient truths”, the pro-immigration groups providing funding to many pro-immigration researchers like Giovanni Peri, and the loss of tolerance for research into any costs of immigration as in the research of George Borjas.


    • There aren’t even many American tech recruiters left. My inbox is flooded with iOS jobs every morning – 100% Indian recruiters. I might see 1 American recruiter email me every 2 months or so. There are MILLIONS of jobs out there. They just won’t ever go to American workers. I think Virgil posted my screenshot of my inbox I sent him. It’s over on his Facebook page.


      • I’ve had much the same experience with recruiters. I was thinking recently that my experience over the past year can be summed up by the following lines from Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer”:

        Asking only workman’s wages
        I come looking for a job
        But I get no offers
        Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue

        In this case, the recruiters you mention are the “whores on Seventh Avenue”. That’s not meant as an insult, just that they seem totally useless in the goal of finding a job. With the exception of one native recruiter, no recruiter has gotten me so much as a phone interview despite hundred of emails. One recruiting company in particular has repeatedly called me about what sounds like the same position at Paypal. I finally just stopped replying to their emails. If I were paranoid, I would think that many of these recruiters are serving as distractions to keep us from searching out and finding the real jobs. In fact, I suspect that most of them are just spammers.

        Speaking of “real jobs” I suspect that many of the jobs being pushed by those recruiters are not totally real. See the section titled Fake Job Postings at .


    • Actually, both Reno and Las Vegas now have quite sizeable Asian-American populations, including relatives of mine on my wife’s side in Reno and a good friend in LV. This may have started originally from the Asian love of gambling, but many have settled there. LV has large Asian supermarkets etc.

      Nevada, of course, is known for its low taxation, and that is sure to have attracted those manufacturers.


    • That is appalling. Why aren’t Americans being hired for these jobs? Not just white Americans but also African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, as well as Asian-Americans? Being a factory worker in a manufacturing plant doesn’t require a college degree, let alone a STEM degree. Trump has been quiet on this.


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