Lisa Irving Venus's picture


  by  Lisa Irving Venus

The New York Times column "Trump Suspends Visas Allowing Hundreds of Thousands of Foreigners to Work in the U.S." covers the Administration's recent order to halt foreign work visas through the end of this year, while the nation suffers massive job losses stemming from the pandemic. Included in the halt are the H-1B program for skilled workers, the H-2B program for seasonal workers and the J-1 cultural exchange program that allows for the hiring of au pairs.

Corporations aligned to oppose this order, as businesses continue the myth that foreign workers are needed to fill crucial gaps in the U.S. labor market.

The column reads:

"[T]he fiercely opposed by business leaders, who say it will block their ability to recruit critically needed workers from countries overseas for jobs that Americans are not willing to do or are not capable of performing."

There is however an abundance of data to prove the corporate myth wrong.

  • According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, over half of H-1B visas were approved for the lowest skilled, entry-level positions, while only 6 percent were approved for the highest skilled positions.
  • An Economic Policy Institute report explains that foreign visa holders in STEM fields are most often of lesser or equal skill; and that the most talented and skilled U.S. workers are discouraged because they are easily displaced by cheaper foreign workers.
  • In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Professor Hal Salzman offered that "The U.S. supply of top performing graduates is large and far exceeds the hiring needs of the STEM industries, with only half of new STEM graduates finding jobs in a STEM occupation..."

Some comments by readers follow the false corporate reasoning. For example, one reader suggests that visas are given only for the "best and the brightest." Another reader argues that foreign students "are the foot soldiers of every major breakthrough in STEM" because U.S. students are not interested in STEM education.

Yet, a significant number of comments tell how work visas depress wages and displace workers in the process. Following are a few of those responses.

On Depressed Wages:

No Planet B
"...Most of the work these visa recipients do is low level...we're not talking genius... With less competition for jobs, the law of supply and demand posits that wages could go up...what a concept."

"The H1 immigration does need to be stopped or drastically reduced as those are jobs Americans would gladly take if not at the wage of an immigrant..."

On U.S. Unemployment:

"...How many people are out of work due to the pandemic? Why bring or allow foreign workers into the country, I don't see this as holding back progress but possibly fostering growth, employment and retraining of the unemployed. If America is so great then let's use great Americans. The article leads one to believe we don't have any qualified technical workers or that foreign talent is better than what's available here which frankly is malarkey..."

On Skilled H-1B Visas:

"'s easy enough to manipulate the system... I've held an H1B for 6 years and my employer's immigration attorney told them exactly how to word my job description and title so we would meet that requirement without having me get too expensive as an employee... I certainly didn't have the same power to negotiate my salary the way a citizen would have and basically stayed at the same salary for 6 years."

Daphne Sanitz
"Do H1-B visa employees get the same pay as an American employee? No, they work for less. Therefore it is corporate greed that motivates the company to replace tech people with H1-B visa employees. Most of us all know someone in tech (American) that has been forced out of their jobs to only have to train their H1-B visa replacement."

"In a country of 330 million born engineers, there is no reason for the H1B visa program to exist. It is just another way to exploit American workers with the support of the law. No other country does this. All other industrial countries value and help train their technical workers because they know that home grown expertise is critical for a vibrant economy. We are the only country that stabs our own engineering work force in the back with layoffs, high turnover, age discrimination, and foreign worker programs."

LISA VENUS is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA

Updated: Fri, Aug 7th 2020 @ 3:15pm EDT

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