Silicon Valley has long abused the H-1B visa that grants foreign nationals permission to temporarily work in the United States. But the renewable visa is more permanent than temporary, and because it’s well known that most IT jobs go to visa holders, thousands of qualified American workers don’t apply. The tech sector is the H-1B’s heaviest user.
The argument about the H-1B and the cheap labor it imports has been ongoing for decades. Less discussed is Silicon Valley’s visa manipulation to shut out American minorities.
In his St. Louis Post-Dispatch op-ed, Tom Broadwater, president of the non-profit Americans4Work, makes the case that H-1Bs have thrived in Silicon Valley while American women, blacks and Asians are mostly overlooked, even those that have studied in the STEM field, science, technology, engineering and math.
Studies underscore Broadwater’s editorial. For the fortunate women and minorities who eventually land coveted Silicon Valley jobs, their experiences often include, according to first-hand accounts, racial and gender discrimination as well as sexual harassment. The bias has led to high turnover and law suits.
An April Washington Post story made arguments similar to Broadwater’s: “Blacks and Latinos earn nearly 18 percent of computer science degrees, yet hold barely 5 percent of tech jobs. Women of color face an even tougher road."
And Black Enterprise published the most scathing rebuke of Silicon Valley’s hiring practices: “The H-1B program creates an all-around winning situation for these [tech] companies. By hiring workers on H-1Bs, they receive cheaper labor and can also point to their brown-skinned engineers and claim diversity boosts."
President Trump has taken baby steps toward reforming the H-1B. But the best course of action is to eliminate the visa so that American men and women of all backgrounds will be encouraged to pursue tech careers. Fewer visas mean more American jobs and higher wages.