Republicans in Congress will soon have the opportunity to prove
whether they do the bidding of their corporate contributors or side
with their hardworking voters. The corporations are lobbying to extend
the Clinton Administration law that raised the number of H-1B visas to
195,000 a year, which otherwise is scheduled to expire on September 30
and revert to the 1999 level of 65,000.
H-1B visas allow corporations to displace Americans with cheap
skilled labor imported from foreign countries. H-1B visas are good for
three years and can be extended for another three years, and nobody has
any count of how many H-1B aliens remain indefinitely, legally or
Some observers estimate that there are about 890,000 H-1B aliens
now working in the United States. The Immigration and Naturalization
Service said that the official count of H-1B aliens is less than half
of those actually in the United States because the count excludes those
who were previously approved and had their stay extended and also
excludes the H-1B aliens working for educational institutions and
It's a fiction that the United States suffers a shortage of
skilled labor, and most H-1B aliens fill entry-level jobs. By far the
most H-1Bs are issued to people from India, with the second largest
number coming from China.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment
among American electronic engineers has soared to 7 percent, and among
computer hardware engineers to 6.5 percent, both surpassing the
national jobless rate of 5.8 percent. According to the Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), electrical and electronic
engineers lost 241,000 jobs in the past two years, and computer
scientists and systems analysts lost 175,000 jobs.
IEEE-USA president-elect John Steadman says he has "never heard" of such
high unemployment, and that the wide-open importation of H-1B aliens
has substantially contributed to the hardship of U.S. engineers and
computer scientists. The result, he adds, is "a very substantial and
negative effect on the economic conditions of the United States."
Corporations continue importing H-1B aliens at the same time they
lay off U.S. citizens. With hundreds of thousands of unemployed
American engineers, why should corporations receive special privileges
to import even more foreign workers?
Corporations love H-1B aliens not only because they work longer
hours for lower wages, but also because it is more difficult for them
to change jobs. This system is an affront to free enterprise because
the regulations confine the foreigners to their sponsoring corporations
like indentured servants.
Government officials don't check for violations of H-1B
regulations or determine if there really is an actual shortage of U.S.
The national media treat H-1B as a non-issue, but local newspapers
across the country are full of reports about how American workers are
laid off and replaced with foreign workers. The San Jose Mercury News
found scores of complaints filed at attorneys' offices, the EEOC, and
the Departments of Justice and Labor.
A Dallas database administrator said, "One recruiter flatly told
me they have 50 H-1Bs willing to work cheap ahead of me in line."
Another U.S. citizen who filed a complaint with the EEOC alleged that
SwitchOn Networks fired him after six months and replaced him with an
H-1B alien with less education and less experience, paying him $30,000
a year less.
Bob Simoni, who has an MBA from UCLA, thought he had a good job
with Toshiba installing software, but all of a sudden Toshiba
outsourced his division to an India-based company, Infosys, which
employs H-1Bs in the United States. Simoni was allowed to stay for
three weeks to do "knowledge transfer," a euphemism for training an H-
1B alien to replace him.
Computer science expert Dr. Norman Matloff provided ample proof to
the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, that
H-1B aliens depress wages for all workers. He cited a UCLA study that
H-1B engineers were paid 33 percent less than comparable Americans, a
Cornell study that found wages 20-30 percent less, and a Forbes
Magazine report that H-1B wages are 25-30 percent less.
This is not free-market economics. It is collusion between
corporations that pour big money into politics to pass legislation that
replaces American workers with foreign substitutes. The law keeps
wages artificially low for the benefit of corporate profits.
Another device used by employers to bring in alien workers is the
L-1 visa. L-1s are intended to enable multinationals to transfer
executives, managers and employees with specialized skills from a
foreign office to a U.S. location or affiliate, but they have fewer
stipulations and are easy to abuse.
Mike Emmons told how his former employer, Siemens ICN, used L-1
visas to replace 20 American computer techies with aliens from India.
"Management mandated we train our foreign replacements, then Americans
were shown the door. It was the most demoralizing thing I have ever
Tell your Congressman that importing hundreds of thousands of
alien workers at a time of unemployment and economic recession is
absurd and is an insult to Americans.
Phyllis Schlafly is President of Eagle Forum, a conservative grassroots lobbying orgzanization.