White House Promotes More Scary Ideas to Displace Struggling American Workers

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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.

February 13, 2012

If you read the details from President Obama’s press conference last week here, you’ll see some scarier than usual stuff.

Obama’s advocacy for lifting the H-1B cap is well known. He’s urged Congressional action to allow more foreign-born workers during every major speech he’s made since last summer in El Paso.

But in his most recent address, Obama raised a very frightening specter for unemployed Americans especially those who have the qualifications to work in middle level jobs like office administrator, executive assistant or personnel officer. Those positions, possibly part time, would pay on average between $10 and $15 an hour, a wage that would help American families meet their rising costs of living.

Obama proposes that H-1B visa holders’ spouses receive work authorization. Currently, spouses and immediate family members are issued an H-4 visa which does not allow them to work without special permission from USCIS. They would need approval to change their status to a non-immigrant category.

Since most H-1B visa workers are college graduates and speak English, it’s logical to assume their spouses also have some level of advanced education and conversational English skills. In a corporate environment that overvalues multiculturalism, it’s easy to imagine that the newly arrived H-4 visa job applicant could have a head start on his American counterpart.

Allowing spouses to work adds a double whammy effect to the existing crisis H-1B visa holders already pose to unemployed American engineers which, according to the Center for Immigration Studies, total 1.8 million. If approved, spousal employment could mean that H-1B engineers would have their household income supplemented by their marital partners’ wages. Then, theoretically, foreign-born workers could accept even lower salaries than have historically agreed to.

By lobbying for work permits for a category of visa holders (H-4) who have long and properly been kept out of the employment market, President Obama offers still more evidence that despite his claims to the contrary he does not have working Americans best interests at heart.

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