Obama Comes to My Hometown, Talks Tech, Fouls up Traffic

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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.

October 25, 2016

At a one-day conference in Pittsburgh called the White House Frontiers Conference, President Barack Obama announced that he will allocate more than $300 million in federal and private funds to support science and technology. The total will include about $165 million for so-called smart city initiatives like reducing traffic congestion.

In Pittsburgh, Obama makes big promises,
but always ready to shortchange American workers.

The University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University hosted the conference that also included plans for space travel projects and touched on the possibility of a 2030 manned mission to Mars. But reporters who covered the event cautioned that nothing tangible may come of it for years, if ever.

Obama left unclear what role American students at Pitt and CMU might play in his expansive vision. Last year, Obama launched a Department of Labor $100 million H-1B grant initiative. And Obama has threatened to use executive action to shorten the time a foreign-born H-1B visa holder has to wait before becoming eligible for a green card. More visas and more green cards mean fewer employed Americans.

Interestingly, CMU and Pitt are already active in H-1B hiring. Between 2013 and 2015, CMU filed 332 labor condition applications for H-1B visas and 20 labor certifications for green cards; during the same time period, Pitt filed 1,031 H-1B labor condition applications, and 82 green card labor certifications.

As for traffic, if Obama really wants to alleviate congestion, as he pledged to do at the conference, he should stay home. Air Force One landed in Pittsburgh at 1:30 EDT, delayed hundreds of commercial flights, snarled traffic from the airport to the city, and made rush hour more impossible than usual for workers in the university district eager to get home.

Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the H-1B visa cap will be a major concern in 2017. Let your representatives know that you support American workers. Go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to end H-1B visa abuse and protect American workers.

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