Worse-Than-Doing-Nothing Bill Passes House Committee

Today’s Wall Street Journal ran a story reporting that the Issa H-1B “reform” bill has now passed the House Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, the article, which at least for now you can read in full here or here, does not question the Intels Good, Infosyses Bad presumption on which the bill is based; it takes this as an “obvious” given. The article states (emphasis added)

Scott Corley, who runs the pro-immigration Compete America coalition made up of technology companies, said the bill was a welcome step toward separating high-tech companies from outsourcers.

The article offers no explanation as to why such a separation is warranted.

I’ve been warning for years that this kind of bill not only would not help matters but would actually make things worse. I won’t review the reasons for this in the current post, but did want to call attention to one passage in the article:

The California Republican also changed the definition of “H-1B dependent” to 20% of a company’s workforce from 15%. That mostly protects high-tech companies such as Facebook and Qualcomm Inc., which both have been H-1B dependent in recent years, according to Labor Department filings…

The percentage of foreign workers is growing at companies like Facebook in part because the H-1B workers don’t return home. Instead, companies sponsor them for green cards so that they can stay permanently.

But a long wait for green cards, particularly for people from India, means that workers are stuck in the H-1B status, and companies see its visa dependency rate climb.

This tack, again designed to support the false claim that the Intels use the visa responsibly, is one of the most misleading quantitative arguments I’ve seen in a long time. Even if the wait for a green card were 0 years, it still would be the case that 15% of the workforce (and likely well over 50% of the engineering workforce; see below) at places like Facebook and Qualcomm would be non-American. The fact that they would not be H-1Bs anymore is irrelevant. Instead, the relevant point is that these are jobs not open to Americans.

(And yes, many of these foreign workers will eventually get green cards and later naturlize, thus will become Americans, but that doesn’t change the fact that they do so on the backs of the existing Americans whom they block  from getting those jobs.)

And once again, that 15% bar itself is misleading, as it includes all the nonengineering staff — the accountants, the marketing people, the physical plant people, the attorneys, the manufacturing line workers, and so on. (The article actually does mention this, I was pleased to see.) It’s unfortunate (though intentional) that when Congress set that 15% bar back in 1998, it didn’t restrict the denominator to STEM workers. It is likely that most of the engineers being hired at those firms are foreign workers (H-1B, OPT, etc.). If for example engineers form 1/4 of Qualcomm’s workers, that 15% figure means 60% of the engineers at that firm are H-1Bs. See this LinkedIn page for an illustration of this.

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13 thoughts on “Worse-Than-Doing-Nothing Bill Passes House Committee

  1. Don’t worry, Norm, I’m sure there are plenty of positions in these companies that are ONLY open to Americans, not H1-B’s. Like CEO, CFO, CTO, CIO, CDO…. and of course janitor, expeditor… and Immigration Lawyer.

    Notice how it’s *only* the “middle class” jobs that “Americans just won’t do.” It’s as if they want to run a plantation with a few elite owners, a few U.S. sharecroppers, and everyone else an imported wage-slave.

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    • You’re entirely too generous in your assumptions. $ilicon Valley has been contracting out their janitorial work. Apparently the exorbitant janitorial hourly pays are cutting into their record profits also. (Sarcasm)
      Industry started at the bottom, with illegal foreign labor for ultra high turnover low wage jobs, waitressing and such (waitress min wage: $2.13). And it’s worked so well for industry they’ve moved illegal and visa indentured into construction, teaching, accounting, architecting, medical, college professors, etc. etc.

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  2. many of the older green card holders are finding themselves worrying about being displaced by the massive tidal wave of non-immigrant guest workers.

    As for the comment about only the middle class jobs being displaced, that is so very true.

    as an example, the short version:

    Google Slide I made showing what is happening can be found at: http://www.concernedstemworkers.com/

    Or the long version youtube video can be viewed here.

    I myself am changing the way I display data because the simple matter is, the non-immigrant guest worker, the green card holder, and the american citizen are all pawns in a massive chess game where employers use us a disposable pawns, and I believe it is time to start showing exactly which companies are doing this, so I will be doing that in coming weeks and months at Concerned STEM Workers.

    If anybody knows a good source of those who send jobs to other countries, I would like to know about it.

    Virgil
    vbiersch@gmail.com

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    • Perhaps the CEO was hired due to “glass cliff” theory (nontraditional leaders are more likely than white males to be promoted to struggling firms).

      From Forbes.com, “Look at some of the female CEOs today and it’s easy to spot the so-called “glass cliff” hires. Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Meg Whitman at Hewlett Packard, Mary Barra at General Motors, ….”

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  3. > And once again, that 15% bar itself is misleading, as it includes all the nonengineering staff — the accountants, the marketing people, the physical plant people, the attorneys, the manufacturing line workers, and so on.

    Yes, and this way of calculating the percentage would seem to favor large companies, especially conglomerates. The 15% bar would translate to a much smaller percentage of the engineering staff in a small software startup with little or no support staff. It would seem that they could do something to apply the measurement to the percentage of the software or engineering staff. If made public, this information could also do much to inform the debate and aid Americans looking for jobs. It would allow them to focus on companies which do not appear to have a bias against American workers.

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  4. Norm, thank you again, you have helped me see the wizard behind the curtain. I worked at Intel, which is a sweat shop now, for 28 years and I could never quite reconcile the Intel demographics reports. Here’s what a typical Intel report would looks like, White 48.2%, Asian 37.8% Hispanic 8.5%, African-American 3.7% Native-American .6%, but my experience was never close this. It wasn’t uncommon to have engineering and validation teams that were 50% or more just people of South Asia. It skewed the whole system against Americans. We would open a req and I would get 10 resume’s and 7 would be South Asian. It’s also common for the interview boards to be heavily skewed in favor of young South Asians so even a highly skill American minority would find it difficult to be selected and a white American over 40 it would be rare to be selected. If you do get hired or are working you will find the meritocracy highly influenced by the caste system, which influences project assignments, raises and promotions. As supervisors and managers change, it becomes more difficult for Americans, they will not understand the implied rules of a caste system, know your position and never question authority.

    Now I see how this happened, since the Intel’s don’t break out STEM, nobody sees how bad it really is.

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    • “nobody sees how bad it really is”

      We do now! Just look at the recent massive Intel processor security flaws dubbed “meltdown” and “spectre”.

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