Remember Jennifer Wedel?

Published on June 6th, 2012

You probably don't remember the name but you may remember her troublesome situation.  She joined President Obama on a Google+ hangout in January 2012.  Jennifer relayed to President Obama that her husband, a semiconductor engineer, has been unemployed for 3.5 years despite an arduous job search.  President Obama was unclear why Mr. Wedel was not employed.  Obama was advised or heard that someone in her husband's field "should be able to find something right away."  The President offered to help if she would send him her husband's resume.

Jennifer went on to ask President Obama "Why does the government continue to issue and extend H1-B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?"  The H-1B visa program is used by businesses to "employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, such as scientists, engineers, or computer programmers."  They are used when businesses state that they cannot locate the necessary talent to fill their open positions.  Similar to the agriculture industry's use of illegal alien labor, businesses request the use of H-1B talent because the costs are less.  In other words, just as illegal alien labor is cheaper for the business so are the salaries cheaper for businesses that use H-1B visa labor.

As of April 2012, Jennifer's husband was still unemployed.  If past trends are any indication, Jennifer's husband will remain unemployed.  In 2008, over 129,000 H-1B visas were issued.  In 2009, over 110,000 were issued.  In 2010, over 117,000 were issued.  In 2011, over 129,000 visas were issued by September 2011.  There is an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B; the duration of an H-1B visa varies as the expiration date is written on corresponding paperwork.

The upward trend in H-1B visa issuance is a contributor to the nation’s unemployment rate.  The most recent jobless rate is 8.2% and since January 2009 unemployment has been above 8%.  At a time when families are displaced, home foreclosures are on the rise and the recession appears to deepen, the administration has chosen to continue to issue visas while Americans suffer.

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