Jeremy Beck's picture

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  by  Jeremy Beck

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich opposes increasing the H-1B cap (see below). I wonder if he is aware that the Obama Administration's proposed rule change to give work permits to the spouses of H-1B holders is an attempt to work around the cap.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

"The latest proposal is in line with the original intent of a new immigration bill which aims to increase the number of skilled immigrants that come to the U.S. and become permanent residents, said Siddharth Pai, president of the Asia-Pacific business of Information Services Group, a U.S.-based technology advisory company."

As former fed chair Alan Greenspan has often noted, increasing skilled immigration is a great way to depress the wages of skilled workers.

According to The Times of India, the Administration's aim is to give work permits to high-skilled spouses, "mainly from the science and tech category".

The Obama Administration has consistently repeated the claims of business lobbyists that there are not enough qualified U.S. workers to fill skilled jobs. In 2012, one day after the wife of an unemployed engineer brought the plight of skilled U.S. workers to the attention of President Obama, the Administration announced plans to attract more high-skilled foreign workers.

The Administration's proposal has not drawn much criticism from the political elite, but last week, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich posted a Facebook message that argues against the Obama Administration's desire for more H-1B workers. On April 10, Reich (who supported the Senate immigration bill that would have - among other things - increased H-1B visas) wrote:

The number-one priority of America's high-tech firms in the fight over immigration reform has been to increase the annual cap on the number of 'skilled' foreign workers they can bring to the U.S. each year under the H-1B visa program. (This year's cap of 65,000 was reached less than a week after applications for the program were accepted.) High-tech firms say they can't find the skilled programmers, computer system designers, and software engineers they need here in America. 'The government should just let the market work' argued one high-tech executive recently.

High-tech executives are the ones who don't want to let the market work. If they really faced a shortage of high-tech workers in America, they'd pay higher wages. In fact, the wages of programmers, systems designers, software engineers and others have barely budged over the past decade, adjusted for inflation. High-tech firms want skilled foreign workers because they don't want to pay more than they're paying now. According to the latest government statistics, the median wage for new H-1B holders in computer-related occupations is only $50,000 -- way below the median wage for those occupations in the U.S., and even below the starting salaries of new U.S. graduates in these fields. So I'd say 'no' to increasing the number of H1-B visas. You agree?

JEREMY BECK is the Director of the Media Standards Project for NumbersUSA

Tags:  
Legal Immigration
American workers
High-Tech Worker Visas

Updated: Thu, Apr 17th 2014 @ 1:01pm EDT

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