Americans, Finally Waking Up, Worry about Too Many Worker Visas

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

August 18, 2014

Last year, the Senate passed a massive immigration bill that would have more than doubled legal immigration within a decade. H-1B visas, the vehicle most immigrants use to enter the U.S. labor market, would have increased from the current 85,000 cap to 180,000. The Border Enforcement, Economic Security and Immigration Modernization Act would also have removed language that specified that companies have to consider American applicants before hiring a foreign-born employee.

With at least 600,000 H-1B visa holders working in the U.S. and with unemployment among American engineers high, the Associated Press reported that frustration has deepened about the increasing presence of overseas workers and the endless industry lobbying led by Mark Zuckerberg for still more, more, more.

While Zuckerberg insists that there’s a shortage of qualified American workers, Donna Conroy, director of Bright Future Jobs, counters that: “We have a shortage in the industry all right – a shortage of fair and ethical recruiting and hiring.” Bright Futures is a group of tech professionals fighting to end what it calls “discriminatory hiring that is blocking us ... from competing for jobs we are qualified to do.”

In the AP article referenced above, the story of Jennifer Wedel and her husband was updated from 2012 when Wedel confronted President Obama in a Google + “hang out” chat room. At the time, Wedel’s husband, Darin, a semiconductor engineer, was unemployed. Why, Wedel wanted to know, are foreign-born workers hired when qualified Americans are readily available? No thanks to Obama who asked Jennifer to forward him Darin’s resume, Wedel eventually found a job in health care, but at a salary $40,000 less than what he previously earned. Watch the Obama-Wedel exchange here.

Wide-spread discontent over H-1B abuses is nothing new. But mainstream media reporting about American worker displacement through H-1B visa corruption is a refreshing and welcome change.

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