Khanna Hits H-1B Abuse (by the Infosyses)

In my various posts to this blog on the H-1B work visa, I have quite often brought up what I call the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad (IGIB) view that is so common in the H-1B debate. This refers to the perception that the Indian outsourcing firms such as Infosys are the main abusers of the visa program, while the mainstream U.S. firms like Intel use H-1B responsibly. This perception is demonstrably false; see a summary in for example my Huffington Post op-ed piece.

The tech industry PR firms have been pushing this false IGIB message as a means of deflecting attention from its own bad behavior, and they make several seemingly plausible but misleading arguments, the biggest of which is the point that the average H-1B salary paid by Intels is higher than that of the Infosyses. This is true but quite misleading. The Intels hire H-1Bs of a higher quality for more sophisticated jobs, so of course they pay more. But the key point is that the Intels are still paying their workers less than they should, given the qualifications of those workers. I’ve often made the analogy of getting 20% of the price of a Toyota Corolla vs. a 20% discount on a Toyota Camry; one is getting a bargain either way.

Another reason the IGIB pitch sells so well (sadly, even with the immigration “restrictionist” organizations, such as Progressives for Immigration Reform) is that the Intels cover their tracks more deftly than the Infosyses. The latter (or more precisely, their clients such as Disney) openly replace Americans by H-1Bs, whereas the former conduct large layoffs and eventually hire H-1Bs for what basically the old jobs. And though the Intels do hire some Americans, mainly for the less technical jobs, they fill many jobs with H-1Bs that could be filled by qualified Americans.

Finally, the Intels hire their H-1Bs mostly as foreign students on U.S. campuses, whereas the Infosyses import directly from India. This somehow is taken to mean the Intels are acting responsibly, the students being pitched as “the best and the brightest,” but actually, the data show that the average quality of the foreign students is somewhat below that of their American peers.

Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna expressed the Intels Good, Infosyses view in my VOA debate with him back in June, and has recently been making that same point to the Indian press (don’t try finding this in the U.S. press). He should know better. Of all the points I made in the VOA debate, the one he and I discussed the most was exactly this point, namely that the Intels are just as culpable as the Infosyses. From my report here on the debate:

A few years ago, about a dozen of us researchers visited Google, and met with a senior engineering manager and an HR person…During the course of the meeting, the Googlers volunteered the information that Google prefers to hire foreign students over Americans of the same quality, because the lengthy green card process renders the foreigners immobile…

I mentioned this to make the point that the “Intels” abuse the foreign worker programs too. (The “Infosyses” only rarely sponsor workers for green cards.) I pointed out that the abuse of this type was discussed in the 2001 NRC study, commissioned by Congress, and has been the subject of complaints by Immigration Voice, a lobbying organization of foreign workers waiting for green cards. I should have added the Web page of David Swaim, an immigration attorney who design Texas Instruments’ immigration policy and now is in private practice. On that Web site, Swaim openly urges employers to give hiring preference to foreign students over Americans, in order to exploit their immobility.

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.

So Khanna, in now continuing to couch the H-1B issue as in IGIB terms, does indeed know better than to make such a claim. Given how emotional he became in the VOA debate, and indeed in several Twitter posts against me in the days following, he can hardly say that he has never heard anyone point out that the Intels are bad actors in the H-1B realm too.

Indeed, if Khanna really cared about the truth behind H-1B in terms of the Intels, he would get to the bottom of the issue and determine for himself whether the Intels are so angelic. He demanded in the debate that I give him the names of the people at Google who stated the firm prefers to hire foreign workers, and I told him I had the name and contact information of the HR person at the meeting. Of course, he never followed up to get the information from me. Or he could read the NRC report, commissioned by Congress. Or he could read the Web page of prominent immigration attorney David Swaim, as I mentioned during the debate. Or even more simply, he could talk to any current or former engineer in Silicon Valley sponsored by an employer for a green card. Really, Mr. Khanna, this is hardly a secret.

But of course, it is not in his interest to do so. Silicon Valley firms are his most important supporters. Suppose he were to take me up on my offer to connect him with that Google HR person, and she were to confirm it. What would Khanna then do? He would do nothing, of course, and would continue to preach IGIB. So, he’s better off not calling Google, not reading the NRC report and so on. The saying “Ignorance is bliss” applies perfectly here, doesn’t it?

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19 thoughts on “Khanna Hits H-1B Abuse (by the Infosyses)

  1. It just occurred to me that your acronym IGIB for “Intel Good, Infosys Bad” also sums up your apt characterization of IGIB proponents to evidence refuting that position — ” IGnorance Is Bliss”!
    Why would lobbyists, the politicians they’ve bought, and the “Intels” accept a refutation that would
    make their jobs harder — unless of course they were intellectually honest?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley in the House of Representatives, said that it would obviously be illegal to single out any company based on nationality, race or religion.”
    While apparently ignoring that is supposedly illegal to single out any job applicants based on nationality.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. > Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna expressed the Intels Good, Infosyses view in my VOA debate with him back in June, and has recently been making that same point to the Indian press (don’t try finding this in the U.S. press).

    I noticed a couple of things in the article you referenced at http://www.newsindiatimes.com/dont-abuse-h1-b-visa-program-ro-khanna . First of all, I see that Rep. Khanna buys into the whole “H-1B workers are job creators” argument pushed by studies funded by the supporters of H-1Bs. The article states

    > “We want to make sure that talent is coming to the US, because we know that most H-1B visas when you look at those studies are job creators. They are not job takers,” said Khanna, speaking at an event organized by the South Asia Centre of Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.”

    The article continues:

    > “But we want to make sure that it’s being done with proper compensation. That they are not being underpaid that they’re not that they’re being paid a wage that is the prevailing wage,” he added.

    This is the one reform mentioned in the article. In that sense, Khanna appears to have modified his stance on H-1B reform. A March 30, 2017 article at http://www.livemint.com/Politics/UUp3eNBeJIEDFFqMlSFiiN/H1B-visa-system-needs-common-sense-reforms-US-Congressma.html states the following:

    > “Of course, we have to end the abuses. We shouldn’t have companies that have more than 50 per cent H-1B visas and we should make sure that they are paid the prevailing wage,” Khanna, a first-time Congressman, told PTI in an interview.

    I found the 50 percent proposal especially interesting. Of course, any form of it would need to be carefully worded. The few times that I’ve heard companies give numbers on their workforce composition, they usually seem to group tech jobs together with their other jobs (HR, sales, janitorial, etc.) so as to make the percentages look less extreme. I think that any proposal needs to look at closely-related jobs (like tech jobs) separately. Also, it would seem that any proposal should include all types of visas, including H-1B, L-1, student visas, and so on. Perhaps some consideration should even be given to recent visa-holders. Regarding the exact percentage, perhaps that should be set so that the currently allowed number of H-1B visas are more evenly divided among all companies.

    The problem with having no percentage limit is that, if there is any flaw in the H-1B rules, such as an ability to pay low wages or to keep workers tethered to the sponsoring company, then companies are motivated to get as close to 100 percent of their employees as H-1B as possible. If 50 percent H-1B provides a financial gain, then 100 percent will just provide that much more. Hence, we end up with an arms race between companies. Also, it seems that once a company gets too high a percentage of one group controlling the hiring process, there’s a danger of the hiring getting skewed toward that group.

    Anyhow, I find it interesting that Khanna does not appear to mention this proposal anymore. It’s not on his web page at https://khanna.house.gov/issues/immigration . I have to wonder if the tech companies and other supporters of H-1Bs got him to drop it. In googling “Ro Khanna” “50 per cent”, it appears that this proposal was only mentioned last March. By the way, you need to put a space in “per cent” when googling to find any reference so it seems likely that this was Khanna’s only recent mention of the proposal.

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    • Ro Khanna is the Donald Trump of the Democratic Party. They have in common a manic use of Twitter, but also a lack of precise, informed thinking. When Khanna says H-1Bs are job creators, it’s not because he’s given the matter careful thought and looked into the data; it’s just his gut feeling, though one that he thinks is obviously valid.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Speaking of Ro Khanna, he posted this evening’s town hall at Ohlone College in Fremont online at https://www.facebook.com/RepRoKhanna/videos/683754428490946/ . There’s a very interesting conversation that takes place with about 40 minutes left (with -40:00 on the right side). An audience member complains that the person taking questions is skipping him and is finally allowed to speak. He mentions that the U.S. has a labor force participation rate of 63% versus 80% in many other countries. The 63% number is correct and can be seen in the fifth pair of graphs at http://www.econdataus.com/jobdata.html . As can be seen, that’s the lowest rate since the late 70s. I believe the rate was low before then because many women had not yet entered the workforce. With about 38:20 left, the speaker mentions that Harvard professor George Borjas states that a half trillion dollars have been transferred from the middle class to business due to our immigration policies. The half trillion figure is likewise correct and can be found in the article at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/trump-clinton-immigration-economy-unemployment-jobs-214216 . At the end of his comments, the speaker mentions that an Indian woman who had worked at Google and a Chinese man who had worked at Intel both came up to him at the last town hall and recalled how they had been fired from those companies when their status changed from H-1B to American citizen.

        Ro Khanna then answers him with the exact same arguments as in the article you referenced. He says that we need to reform H-1B so that those workers are paid a prevailing wage and are not taken advantage of to replace American workers. He mentions the Dubin-Grassley bill and, with about 35:40 left, he says something about needing to be welcoming to immigrants because immigrants do produce/create jobs. In other words, he said nothing new in response to the questioner’s comments.

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      • Speaking of immigrants creating jobs, I also caught the following comment from Michael Bloomberg on tonight’s PBS Newshour. The following can be found in the transcript at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/threatening-doesnt-work-diplomacy-says-bloomberg-trump-un/ :

        > In terms of general immigration, this — I think what’s happened here is, some of the president’s supporters have probably misinformed him about the impact of immigrants. Every reputable study shows that immigrants create a lot more jobs than they take away.

        > Most immigrants that come here either do jobs that Americans absolutely wouldn’t do at any price, or they come here to start businesses or take jobs that are additive. When there is another business or more business in a given company, they hire more people.

        > And for people who think that they have lost their jobs because of immigrants, maybe some of them have, but we have got to find ways to help them and not make it worse.

        So I see that, like many others, Bloomberg believes that, when a special interest group funds a study and gets an “expert” to accept payment and put their name on it, all statements within that study become reputable facts. In fact, he started one of those special interest groups, founding “Partnership for a New American Economy” with Rupert Murdoch.

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  4. I think one of the ways to expose this and make things black and white is by asking INTELS (and every single tech company) of the world to release the numbers of sub-contractors working for them and are on H1b visas. Somehow this stat is missing, the Infosyses of the world and the body shoppers of San Jose are making lots of money just by being middle-men, this is not good for the long-term of of the industry as well as society and is in fact a modern day slavery!

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    • The INTELS will never release those numbers. They spend lots of time and money hiding the real numbers, often in plain sight. Everybody knows there are “too many white guys” in the tech industry, the INTELS have spent millions to sell that rhetoric. When the INTELS show their demographics every year, there’s a strong dose of “still too many white males”, but what’s hidden is what Jesse Jackson pointed out way back in 2012; that despite diversity speak and false empathy the INTELs are doing nothing more than replacing mainly older working American’s with cheap labor mainly from India.

      The INTELS know that if the public knew truth about what they were doing there would be outrage.

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  5. I would like to add that there is proposed legislation (H.R.1303 – H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017) that gives priority to those with an advanced degree from a US institution. Below are the relevant passages.

    “The bill establishes an H-1B visa allocation system, with first priority reserved for aliens who have earned an advanced degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from a U.S. institution of higher education.”

    “The bill requires completion of a U.S. degree (or an equivalent foreign degree) as a qualification for “specialty occupation” eligibility, eliminating experience in a specialty as an equivalent to the completion of such a degree.”

    It appears that the Higher Education Lobby is trying to pass legislation mandating a degree as a legal requirement for an H-1B visa with a US degree having precedence over a foreign degree. Perhaps US colleges are fearful that the H-1B program will reduce demand for their graduate degrees since the Infosyses can import directly from India. The Higher Education Lobby might have a hand in promoting the IGIB message. This proposed legislation might have more support than Staple.

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      • >> Intels being tired of losing visas to the Infosyses.

        Its more like “Intels want visas for themselves *and* for Infosyses”….. It’s worth repeating here once again that Infosyses do not exist without the Intels.

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  6. According to NumbersUSA.com Ro Khanna is pretty much the bottom of the barrel. He knows exactly what he’s doing, he not going to contact those people, he already knows you’re right. As far as I’m concerned he falls into the class of representative who should be prosecuted for treason, stripped of citizenship and deported. I would never vote for any of these bottom feeders.

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  7. (Industry insider here! Know inner workings of MSFT, GooG, etc.) The modus operandi of these companies have evolved over the years too. MSFT hires people in India, make them work for few years, then bring them over to redmond, they then leave and become part of workforce in the US with MSFT badge on their resume. This doesn’t just happen in engineering, MSFT is doing this for functions like HR and operations as well. Just check the linkedin profile of guy named Sameer Chow****, he works as HR head at FB after being hired by MSFT in India and then brought over. He doesn’t even have any American education. Can these companies not find any one in America to work in HR now! In the hunt to grow too fast, FB is becoming another MSFT with 100s of new recruits from MSFT!

    Like

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