By Joe Guzzardi
November 15, 2013
In its recent online edition, Forbes published a list of the top ten companies that hire foreign-born workers. Based on 2012 data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Census Bureau, the 10, in reverse order, are: Mahindra Satyam, Ernest and Young, Accenture, L&T Infotech, Microsoft, Deloitte Consulting, IBM, Tata Consultancy, Wipro, and Infosys.
The federal government’s lax oversight of visa programs has led to the three biggest H-1B users, IMB, Tata and Infosys, to agree to out of court settlements in high profile immigration fraud cases.
In September, IBM reached a settlement with Department of Justice over allegations that it violated the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act when it hired programmers who held H-1B visas or foreign student visas instead of equally qualified Americans. IBM’s job postings specifically stated its preference for F-1 foreign-born students or H-1Bs. Under the agreement’s terms, IBM paid a token $44,000 fine and promised to revise its training and recruiting practices.
In April as part of a class action lawsuit, Tata settled with 13,000 non-citizen employee plaintiffs who had been forced to endorse their tax refund checks payable to Tata. The company agreed to set up a $30 million settlement fund for current and former employees.
Finally, two weeks ago Infosys agreed to pay $34 million as the result of what company whistleblower Jay Miller called “systemic visa fraud” that displaced thousands of American workers. Among the charges against Infosys were that it knowingly petitioned for foreign workers claiming they had special skills not available in the United States. Instead, the immigrant employees required on the job training, often given by the Americans they were displacing.
CBS News obtained internal Infosys memorandums showing that the company instructed its foreign-born employees how to lie to immigration officials. Miller said Infosys executives knew about the fraudulent practices but, to increase company profits, continued them. As Miller told CBS, "It's really about getting people over no matter what the cost or whatever. And I think that's the first time I heard the term, ‘Americans are stupid,’” referring to Infosys’ confidence that immigration officials would not catch their fraud.
While $34 million is a large sum, for Infosys with a net worth of more than $35 billion and $6 billion in annual sales, executives could consider the fine part of the cost of doing business.
A 2008 Department of Homeland Security audit determined that one in five H-1B visas are obtained through fraud or as a result of technical violations. Similarly, a 2003 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform study declared that U.S. CEOs' claim of a tech labor shortage are bogus. Michigan found that H1-Bs are merely a cheap labor pool, and many companies exploited the program as a way to replace older and thus less desirable U.S. employees.
Despite the well documented pattern of H-1B abuse that goes back a decade and includes the three flagrant cases against Microsoft, Tata and Infosys, high tech companies have mounted a relentless campaign for Congress to lift or eliminate the 65,000 visa cap.
Unemployed American engineers are shut out of the visa debate even though Center for Immigration Studies research based on the 2010 federal American Community Survey found that there are 1.8 million U.S.-born engineers who are either unemployed, out of the labor market or working but not as engineers.
Importing more overseas engineers, often by breaking federal law, while 1.8 million professional Americans are unemployed is a scandal that Congress should address and remedy in its endless comprehensive immigration reform hearings.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow whose columns have been syndicated since 1986. Contact him at [email protected]