Biden on H-1B

Imagine the government saying, “Women, are you worried about the tight labor market,  compounded by a gender Glass Ceiling? Don’t worry, we’re going to add more workers, mostly men.” Or, “Black and Latino owners of small businesses, are you getting hammered by Covid-19? Don’t worry, we’re bringing more small entrepreneurs from the outside, so that they can undercut your prices and dilute your market share.”

Or even better, “You Asian-American engineers and programmers out there, we know that hiring in the tech industry has slowed down, and that you already faced rampant age discrimination in the industry. But don’t worry, we’re going to reverse Trump’s order to temporarily restrict H-1B, so we can continue to have people compete with you for jobs at low wages.” No kidding on this one, because that is basically what Joe Biden said, in a June 27 digital town hall meeting focusing on Asian American issues.

Nationwide, about 25% of computer-related Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to Asian-American students (note: NOT Asian foreign students). In states with large Asian-American populations, it’s even higher, over 70% at my university.

I’m sure the image of American techies on the Hill is of “undeserving whites,” but the fact is that the field has always attracted a lot of Asian-American students, who tend to gravitate to “practical” majors. I wonder whether Biden watched the major 60 Minutes piece in 2017 about the protests by American IT people replaced at UCSF by H-1Bs. There were a number of Asian-Americans (and some blacks) among the protestors.

Biden’s a smart, astute guy, and he’s not the first to say “Choose your poison” to Asian-Americans regarding H-1B. (I recall that Sen. Patty Murray did too.) But for a major presidential candidate to be that tone deaf is amazing.


36 thoughts on “Biden on H-1B

  1. Dr. Matloff, I disagree. Mr. Biden is in serious mental decline – even something like 30% of Democrats believe he is in the early stages of dementia. His flubs & stutters are constant, when he isn’t in hiding.

    This is no exaggeration. Biden’s camp has announced no rallies due to CCP Covid19 (ahem), and they will likely roll the dice on President Trump having self-inflicted wounds, and our in-the-bag Liberal MSM. Unprecendented, really.

    Given these facts, who’s driving his policies? The corrupt, for sale Chamber of Commerce?


    • Not sure what you’re disagreeing with me on.

      As I wrote in my post, Biden is not the first to take this illogical stance. I mentioned Sen. Murray, for instance, though as a former tech executive, maybe her views was colored by that background; the tech industry tends to view themselves as agents for social good.

      I don’t think that Biden is affected by the US Chamber of Commerce any more than Trump is. Could be that the Indian-American owners of IT outsourcing firms have his ear.

      Recall the 2008 incident in which Hillary Clinton told a group of such owners, “I am the senator from Punjab.” The most interesting aspect of that is that, while her opponent Barack Obama initially used that against her in his campaign, he soon apologized. Not clear why.

      As to Biden’s cognitive health, I have to agree that it looks precarious, very sad if true.


    • Agree. The videos from the US Senate chamber of his inappropriate behavior towards females. The Tara Reade allegations. The “You’re not black” statement. On and on. Saw a pretty convincing story from a ex-Secret Service agent. Biden was almost beat up by another agent at a Christmas party after heavily groping that agent’s girlfriend. Biden has serious mental issues that the Democrats have ignored for far too long.

      Would venture to say that those who vote for Joe Biden are really voting for his running mate. I doubt he’ll make it through the election or if elected, the first two years of his term.


  2. It’s been interesting to watch
    – my 1997 prolific H1 Asian coworkers bicker that the next hire, must be from India, must be from China,
    – half of which got a pink slip with their green card then
    – ring my phone in 2015, in a panic about the upcoming election, asking I vote for Trump, to stop the flood of H1s, because it was going to impact the employment future of their Asian-American soon-to-graduate from college children.


  3. There was a time when people ran for office to represent the “people”, not multinational corporations. Not so much any more.

    There was also a time when we did not have what Peter Schweizer calls a “political class” – entrenched politicians who put themselves on a pedestal above us regular folk once they take up residence in D.C.

    Joe Biden speaks on behalf of the billionaires who fund him and his cohorts (i.e., everybody on Capitol Hill).

    “Follow the money and you will find the villain.”


    • Specifically, Steve, Washington is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall St.
      Listening to a 1.5 day lecture series at Brown University about climate change, stunning was Senator Whitehouse’s comments at the end of it. He said TechNet (Silicon Valley) calls congress to the west coast, where they instruct them on their priorities. #1 and #2, Don’t touch our data and Don’t touch our foreign labor. He brought it up because he was saying Climate Change is not in their top 10. I don’t think he was aware just how disturbing was a) they order congress to come to hear their priorities, b) that congress goes, c) that congress takes their orders.


  4. Joe Biden’s immigration plan has a “staple green card to your Phd. diploma” on his website. He also is pushing the removal of country cap quotas for employment based green cards as well as INCREASING the number of employment green cards. In essence, he wants to increase the number of immigrants, not substitute it from the family based category.


    • Removing the per-country cap would be a good thing. Luxemburg is a country and so are India and China. See the problem ? H-1B’s from India wait 10-12 years, sometimes even longer, for their Green Card.
      Either you want/need these workers, or not.


      • The green card requires giving hiring priority to US citizens. But that is not truly enforced. If it were,the green card cap would never be filled. There would be no wait!


        • I was talking about the per-country immigration cap. Not the cap for work-bound green cards.
          Furthermore, you write “the green card cap”, but the total green card limit(s) pertains to all permanent immigration, not just the job-related visas.

          And, again, the 600,000-700,00 immigrants who are allowed in every year as immediate relatives (no visa limit) or based on family (re)union – are they not going to look for a job ? No question whether they take jobs from Americans ?

          Liked by 1 person

          • There are real issues with some aspects of family immigration, notably the Fourth Preference (adult siblings). But Larry Richards answered this question well back in the 90s. He noted that while family immigration arguably has some moral justification, employment-based immigration without a compelling economic basis does not.

            Liked by 1 person

      • “want”
        The workers are wanted by industry, as visa’d workers is the only legal form of worker indenture. The countries sending their population, is for sake of offloading their unemployed and for remittances. The visa is temporary, and the lure for indenturing one’s self, is the potential of a green card. India’s been exporting their population to multitudes of countries, rather than addressing its lack of industry.
        Brussels vs India or China, see the problem?
        Indentured hires are not a need. Decades back, the rare foreign worker hire, due to their experience, came with a green card. NSF, National Science Foundation, wanted cheap labor, and thus manufactured the claim of a projected “shortage”. Industry ran with that bogus narrative, “shortage”. Universities, now hedge funds with a campus overlay, jumped in on that, for sake of ballooning degree programs and bilking foreign students for cheap labor (teacher’s assistant, adjunct professors, post-doc research, etc.).
        For many an EB, pink slips come with their green cards, as their value to the company, was their indenture.


      • Why are we giving away our plum jobs to H1Bs? So Microsoft, Google & Facebook can make Billions more?

        Meanwhile, our own tech graduates, women, and minorities shy away from and / or transition out of technology.

        I’ve recently met a Mexican American man in his 60s who is a tech support specialist. He’s had trouble retaining jobs, partly because of the huge immigration influx.

        He said: “When I go to a job interview and both interviewing Managers are Indian, I know I’m not getting the job. And I thought H1V visas were for technical positions, not managers?”


    • “Joe Biden’s immigration plan has a “staple green card to your Phd. diploma” on his website.”

      Yup, at we have, “Biden believes that foreign graduates of a U.S. doctoral program should be given a green card with their degree and that losing these highly trained workers to foreign economies is a disservice to our own economic competitiveness.”


  5. So which candidate is better for software engineers? Trump talks a good game against H1B, but actually by his actions supports what Norm calls “Intel Good Infosys Bad”. Biden would “reverse Trump’s order to temporarily restrict H-1B”. Also,Trump seems to have cognitive issues of his own. Maybe we have to decide based on vice-president, i.e. Pence vs. whoever Biden picks?


  6. “protests by American IT people replaced at UCSF by H-1Bs.”

    A few days ago UCSF paid a ransom of $1.14 million for an attack that encrypted data. Someone commented that UCSF will save $30 million over 5 years by outsourcing to India. So UCSF is still saving money despite paying the ransom.

    “Asian-American students, who tend to gravitate to “practical” majors.”

    A long time ago I asked a Vietnamese-American college student why he picked Electrical Engineering. He immediately replied with no hesitation, “Because my mom told me to”.

    Asians make up 48.5% of active pharmacists in California! Asians are 13.2% of the California labor force.


    • Have European Americans become lazy? Many youth studying Mickey Mouse majors… ethnic studies, womyn studies, communications, social justice.

      Our Asian American brothers & sisters ate often tackling the tough majors.


      • I’ve seen no change in patterns over the decades. Keep in mind, as I wrote in an op-ed once, the engineers often end up working for the humanities majors. 🙂


        • Cute. I’ve also heard the axiom that startups are often founded by techies, and then they hit 20-25 employees, and they then have to bring in the non techies to continue the growth.


          • This usually occurs when the startup gets VC funding, and it’s based on class. The “non-techies” are members of the upper-middle class brotherhood of VC firms, with wealthy parents and all the pedigree that goes with it. Their role in the startup is to ensure it plays by the rules of the upper middle class wealth industry.

            There are many tech-founded firms that rose to success without appointing non-techies, provided they did not seek VC money.


          • “…plays by the rules of the upper middle class wealth industry.”

            Huh? Please explain your point.

            There are soft skills, qualitative skills, common sense, many techies don’t have. I worked at a startup where we succeeded w one product, and then the Founder completely failed w about ten other unrelated products. As in zero sales on every one.

            I then finally, and forcefully, told him he had two options: Market A or Market B – both companion products to our existing client base. He protested, ignored me for 3 months, and then pretended it was his idea. The company now has 4-5 products that sell. Its not publicly traded and won’t likely be acquired, but $15 – $25M a year in sales is better than $2M a year.

            I’m sure a sharp management consultant and polish would do wonders, but does that fit your description?


          • We may have been talking about different things. My reference to VC’s appointing executives, and to the upper middle class wealth industry, was to those executives pushing for fast growth and exits, often accompanied by poor ethical practices.

            You possibly were referring to an old meme that essentially disparages tech professionals.I don’t think that was ever a useful, accurate or nice meme. Technical expertise does not preclude other types of expertise. However, of course, many different types of people and expertise are needed in modern business.


      • That is the world wide bitter/resentful employer pejorative, lazy, by employers who’re under the impression they’re entitled to labor who’ve no legal rights.

        As for “Our Asian American brothers & sisters ate often tackling the tough majors.”, watching our Asian American brothers & sisters, a small sampling,
        – I asked my Asian American coworker (some years back) why she was moving across town, and she said the grade school there was rumored to be easy and she wanted her two boys on an All As track. The easy As took her boys to Stamford.
        – Currently working with a divorced Asian American father, who’s Asian American ex-wife opened a tutoring business. She gets serious mileage out of her boys attendance at it, from having the instructors fill in their test blanks on national tests, to having them tutor other younger kids (cheaper than paying an actual instructor) and listing that as “volunteering”, for … national awards for volunteering.

        Expertise in “tough majors” looks to be expertise in gaming the system. My Asian American coworker, from Taiwan, disgusted, calls it “not in the American spirit” and with respect to the unpreparedness for the damage/impact on citizenry, “American’s are naive”.


        • “why she was moving across town, and she said the grade school there was rumored to be easy and she wanted her two boys on an All As track. The easy As took her boys to Stamford (Stanford?).”

          Texas implemented a so-called “Top 10% Rule”. “The law guarantees Texas students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school class automatic admission to all state-funded universities.” This is a work-around affirmative action. Word has it that some parents are taking their kids out of top-notch high schools and having them attend lower ranking schools in order to graduate in the top ten percent of their class.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. “about 25% of computer-related Bachelor’s degrees are awarded to Asian-American students …. over 70% at my university.”

    I was wondering how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect enrollments this Fall of Asian-Americans compared to whites (European-Americans). I guess since Asian-Americans value education very highly then the pandemic should have less of an affect on Asian-American enrollments compared to European-Americans. On the other hand, perhaps Asian-Americans are more likely to worry about infecting an elderly family member and this will lead to lower enrollments. Maybe many Asian-Americans will view an education with masks, virus testing, hand sanitizing stations, social distancing, quarantines, one way halls, remote-learning, night or weekend classes, professors behind Plexiglas, etc as an inferior learning experience and will decide not to enroll this Fall.

    It would seem that international students will do anything to remain in the United States. Perhaps this group will have the lowest decrease in enrollments compared to the Spring semester. I am assuming that these students have a choice and are not barred from remaining in the United States by some executive order or act of Congress.


  8. I’ve been writing and giving examples on how s/w engineers and the field in general in the US is being made to deteriorate fast. In the same series, I would like to give another example, a company named Andela on which millions are thrown just to train s/w engineers in Africa. They are being paid to learn and the nigerian founder living a life of luxury just to be born in the country and having access to the people there. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the American companies lays off engineers in India and move operations to nigeria. “ACA-5 on a global level”

    Is this fair?


    • “Is this fair?”
      Chinese companies, whose goods are purchased for import to the US, are offshoring production to cheaper Vietnam. For ever more profits.
      Just read today, “When the rich make more money, it’s called growth. When our wages go up, it’s called inflation.” Skew, built into the very language of economics.
      Fair, is no where in sight.


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