By Joe Guzzardi
October 31, 2014
Although there’s near unanimity among the GOP that the U.S. border with Mexico should be secured and that President Obama’s looming administrative amnesty is a bad idea, the party also seems stubbornly united that the nation needs more guest worker visas. But, if the millions they want to bring to the U.S. ever get here, more visas for so-called skilled workers would be as harmful to unemployed Americans as wide open borders.
Recently, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who heads up the clandestine “High-Tech Task Force,” told Utah-based Overstock.com executives that there’s agreement on H-1B reform which “could help pave the way for additional and far more reaching reforms.” Two other influential congressmen, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), also pushed for increased numbers of overseas workers. Hensarling told the Wall Street Journal that he supports pro-growth immigration policies which would include a “vibrant guest-worker program” for low-skilled workers and more H-1B visas for high-tech workers.
The suggestion that the U.S. needs more workers, especially “low-skilled,” defies labor market realities. Only 62.8 percent of the U.S. adult population is counted as participating in the labor force; the balance is neither working nor looking for work. The labor participation rate has been falling since 2000. Nevertheless, importing more overseas workers has been Silicon Valley’s, the hospitality industries’ and the retail trades’ collective goal since the 2013 Senate bill passed.
The cruel irony is that heavy pro-immigration lobbying by groups like FWD.us, Mark Zuckerberg’s organization, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce may have influenced Congress to believe that more foreign-born labor is essential, even though Microsoft, Cisco, Dell and Facebook have fired thousands. Today, high-tech firings are a permanent feature in the corporate business plan. Nearly 30 percent of Silicon Valley workers expect to be job searching next year, but only half anticipate being hired.
Numerous reports from non-partisan economists and universities conclude that the U.S. has no labor shortage. Earlier this year, liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute’s research found that only half of U.S. college graduates in science, engineering and technology found jobs in those fields, and that at least one third of IT jobs went to foreign guest workers. The Census Bureau confirmed that nearly 75 percent of American college graduates with STEM degrees don’t work in their area of expertise.
Even though there’s no proof that the U.S. is even remotely approaching a jobs crisis, deep pocketed lobbyists proceed as if a dire one existed. They rely on dubious arguments and intentionally misleading claims to promote policies that sound as if they’re the right thing for America. However, only the corporations, their executives and stockholders benefit. Particularly hard hit are young Americans who invest tens of thousands of dollars and years of their lives pursuing STEM degrees that, because of millions of foreign-born workers’ presence, become worthless. Since 1990, more than 6 million H-1B visas have been issued.
The prospect of unlimited cheap labor is what motivates the pro-immigration lobby. Recently, Electronics for Imaging, headquartered in Fremont, CA, paid eight workers from Bangalore, India $1.21 an hour to work 120-hours per week —slave labor wages. The company attributed its error to an “administrative” misunderstanding and alleged that it thought it could pay $1.21 because it’s the equivalent to what the workers earned in Indian rupees. Last quarter, EFI earned $200 million.
The next time anyone reads about a U.S. labor shortage, think about the EFI example. EFI paid sweatshop wages to naïve Indian nationals instead of hiring eight California workers, and paying them the $9 dollar state minimum wage for the simple task of moving and installing computers during its company headquarters relocation.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected]