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  by  Lisa Irving

Some Congressional Leaders Still Want Cheap Labor Amid Slowing Economy

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer this week called for amnesty for at least 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., stating that "Now more than ever, we're short of workers..."

Schumer's claim of a workers shortage is particularly dubious as economists point to a slowed-down U.S. economy and the media cite significant layoffs and hiring freezes, most notable in tech industries.

Outrageous to Prioritize H-1B Visa Holders With Ongoing Layoffs and Hiring Freezes

As American tech workers face job uncertainty, some business owners and industry insiders seek to prioritize H-1B visa holders who have been let go.

H-1B visas were created to allow employers to recruit immigrant workers on a temporary basis to fill gaps in U.S employment.

Yet, cheap labor advocates argue that H-1B workers are indispensable, even after they have been laid off.

In its report "Workers on H-1B visas face challenges after recent tech layoffs," Seattle's King 5 news quoted Graham & Walker Managing Director Leslie Feinzaig who claimed that H-1B visa holders " by far the most vulnerable population in this entire equation."

In her statement, Feinzaig ignores the many vulnerable U.S. tech workers who have been displaced or bypassed through employers' use of H-1B visas.

Mark Zuckerberg, in a letter regarding laid-off Meta employees, wrote that Meta layoffs are "especially difficult if you're here on a visa."

Law 360's analysis "H-1B Workers' Options Amid Mass Layoffs" noted:

The recent layoffs of tens of thousands at Meta, Amazon and Twitter have ensnared foreign workers on H-1B visas, who now have 60 days to make tough decisions such as finding another job, exploring other visa options or returning home.

While it's unknown how many H-1B workers have been affected, a number of them took to social media and blogging platforms to publicly voice their worries and convey the severity of their situation."

Economists and journalists have long exposed the ways tech companies take advantage of the H-1B visa programs while bypassing American talent. More recently:

** In the December 2021 Politico article "Biden's H-1B Conundrum," Rikha Sharma Rani wrote about H-1B visa recipient turned US citizen Salil Choudhary who now says the visa program is "a big scam."

** The 2019 Atlantic Council report titled "Reforming US' high-skilled guestworker program" says that "the current system undercuts opportunities for US workers and enables the exploitation of H-1B workers, many of whom are underpaid, vulnerable to abuse, and frequently placed in poor working conditions."

** The 2022 Bloomberg article "Biden Is Caught Between Big Tech and Black Voters" reads: "Tech companies often say there's no limit to the number of engineers they can hire. But the data say otherwise: Over the past thirty years, a rising flow of visa holders has created a pool of tens of thousands of candidates beyond the available openings; meanwhile, in the decade through 2020, the representation of Black workers in tech has stagnated."

U.S. Tech Workers says companies retaining H-1B workers while laying off U.S. workers may be in violation of immigration law.

And yet the House of Representatives is planning a vote to circumvent existing caps on employment-based visas the week after Thanksgiving.

Migrant Workers Prioritized in Hurricane Clean Ups

Hurricane clean-ups were once seen as opportunities for Americans to secure well-paying jobs. However, as the clean-up following Hurricane Ian shows, the jobs have turned into opportunities for employers to bypass American workers and exploit migrant labor.

The Tampa Bay Times noted in its article "Migrant workers already leaving Florida's Hurricane Ian cleanup": It's not jobs, but pay, that's unreliable, Ian restoration workers said.

The recruitment of migrant workers for Hurricane Ian clean-up follows the patterns of previous hurricane clean-ups that have displaced American workers, Blacks in particular.

LISA IRVING is a Content Writer for NumbersUSA's Media Standards Project

Updated: Thu, May 11th 2023 @ 3:23pm EDT

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