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Stop abusing visa system — Corporate America must hire homegrown talent

By Dale L. Wilcox

Education has long been one of the building blocks to achieving the American Dream. Go to college, get a degree and you’ll be on your way to a successful career and a prosperous life. Today that time-tested maxim is faltering, thanks in part to Corporate America’s addiction to cheap foreign labor and its love for unfettered immigration. 


While an increasing number of people are seeing liberal arts disciplines as a charade, there has been reassurance that the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are rock-solid. Greek poetry and Nietzsche may be the stuff of Starbuck’s baristas, but the country will always need IT professionals and lab researchers, right? 


Not exactly. 


At various times in America’s rise as an enduring global economic superpower, our industries have needed specialists who were not available among our population. For that reason, the federal government created programs like the H-1B visa, which allows employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. 


Sadly, profit has subsumed principle. Foreign workers continue to be hired for American jobs under H-1B, not because of a dearth of skilled native workers, but because foreign workers can be hired at often a fraction of the cost of their U.S. counterparts. 

This pattern has continued even through the mass unemployment of the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently put out a report on the H-1B program. It found that there are 583,420 H-1B skilled workers in the country at a time when tens of millions of Americans are out of work. Are we to believe that no skilled workers are among that pool of job seekers? 


This is fundamentally wrong during better times. Today it is a gross injustice. Corporations that want to enjoy low U.S. corporate taxes and have access to the American market show utter contempt for American workers. This can be seen in numerous accounts of American workers who were asked to train foreign workers and then received pink slips when the trainees turned out to be their replacements. 


To be sure, this obsession with foreign labor is not about a lack of homegrown talent. As of 2014 there were more than five million native-born Americans with STEM undergraduate degrees, but they were working in non-STEM occupations. Why is that? Maybe because many of them have been squeezed out of the career they trained for as employers prefer foreign labor that can be paid substandard wages. That is not capitalism; it’s exploitation and using yet another government program as a form of corporate welfare. 


These maneuvers may be smart for a company’s balance sheet, but they are decidedly bad for America and its citizens. At a time when many corporations are extremely image-conscious and virtue signal their political correctness, many have no shame about proclaiming their unquenchable thirst for cheap labor at the expense of Americans. 


Even at the height of the pandemic-related economic fears, 324 of America’s largest employers sent a letter to President Trump, warning that any attempt by him to limit their access to cheap foreign labor would likely result in more financial hardship. The group, which includes Silicon Valley behemoths like Amazon and Facebook, has plenty of fans on Capitol Hill. Thanks to well-funded lobbying efforts, they have won allies from both parties in Congress to defend the never-ending need for more cheap foreign labor. 


Who advocates for our sons and daughters who played by the rules, worked hard and earned a degree in a growing field? They are mere collateral damage to the corporate giants and the politicians who carry their water in exchange for campaign funding. Some corporations that buy Super Bowl commercials and wrap themselves in American values are also harming American workers by leveraging foreign labor programs to increase profitability. Americans need to know who these companies are and make consumer decisions accordingly. 


Organizations like mine, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, defend the interests of the American worker at a time when powerful industries are lined up against them. President Trump and a few brave souls in Congress have been tireless defenders of American workers on immigration issues. We the American people need to continue to remind them that programs like H-1B have strayed far from their original intent and are harming the future of our children and our nation. 


Dale L. Wilcox is executive director and general counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.


Also published at: Dale L. Wilcox, Stop abusing visa system — Corporate America must hire homegrown talent, Fox News, July 2, 2020.

IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

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