By Joe Guzzardi
April 29, 2016
In a rare if indirect triumph for countless United States’ workers displaced by H-1B visas holders, the Department of Justice indicted an Indian-America couple and four co-conspirators on fraud charges. The group executed a complex visa-for-sale scam, ongoing since 2008 but at an accelerated pace since 2011, which ended up with the criminals netting $20 million in ill-gained profits after they applied for 800 illegal immigrant benefits.
According to the DOJ, Raju Kosuri and his spouse Smriti Jharia established a string of shell companies that the couple presented to federal authorities as legitimate businesses in need of H-1B workers. In fact, Kosuri owned the multiple businesses which, despite his allegations, had no vacancies to fill. Other charges against the couple include hiring consultant Raimondo Piluso to defraud the Small Business Administration in order to obtain federal loans and contract preferences. If convicted, Kosuri, Jharia and Piluso face a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The other co-conspirators face a maximum 10-year penalty.
Although cases involving such blatant criminality are unusual, the H-1B visa has been steadily abused more discreetly since the 1990s when Congress first created the visa. Employers have steadfastly insisted that they cannot find skilled Americans, mostly engineers but also teachers, nurses and other professionals, and that they must therefore import overseas workers. But the nearly three-decade old argument that no adequately trained Americans can be found is finally wearing thin. Headline cases at Disney, Southern California Edison, and Toys “R” Us exposed corporations’ craven willingness to fire their American engineers, and force them under threat of losing their severance to train their H-1B replacements.
Nevertheless, Silicon Valley’s lobbying for more visas continues unabated even in light of the evidence that more H-1Bs hurts Americans’ jobs prospects. More often than not, the lobbying is shameless. Between 2010 and 2011 tech giant Intel, on the grounds that no Americans were available, requested and had approved 14,523 visas and green cards for foreign workers. Now that those requests have been approved, Intel recently announced what it politely labeled as a restructuring but is really a massive layoff that will leave 12,000 Americans unemployed.
Congress is always eager to help lobbyists earn their keep. Despite the well-publicized American layoffs at Disney and the other corporations, House Speaker Paul Ryan and his GOP leadership colleagues continue to be outspoken advocates for more visas and lower fees on those visas.
Numerous studies including those completed at Duke and Georgetown Universities and the Urban Institute have repeatedly found that no tech shortages exist that require importing foreign labor. Yet special Interest groups like Silicon Valley, universities, and immigration lawyers promote their own best interests by perpetuating shortage claims, confident that politicians and journalists won’t question or analyze their statements.
Explaining why employers are so enamored with the H-1B visa is easy. Workers on these temporary visas are typically paid less than U.S. employees who perform the same tasks, and are more compliant with demanding American bosses because they know they’ll be deported if they lose their jobs.
No logical reason exists for continuing the H-1B. America has plenty of educated, qualified people and employment opportunities should be given to them. Eliminating the H-1B would improve Americans’ chances of getting and keeping a job. The H-1B should be eliminated before more Americans get pink slips.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]