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Now We Know -- White House Clarifies War On Jobless Higher-Skilled Americans


Want to get your blood pressure up? Read the transcript of a White House press conference this week about the insistence that the hundreds of thousands of unemployed high-skilled Americans apparently don't exist. While Pres. Obama was showing compassion to the wife of ONE unemployed high-skill American worker this week in a much-publicized internet exchange, his Administration was making it clear that it will multiply the difficulty of hundreds of thousands of other unemployed high-skill Americans to get a job.

A reporter brought up the Town Hall question at the first of the week by Jennifer Wedel from Fort Worth who asked the President why the government continues to issue and extend H-1B visas while unemployed American engineers, like her husband, remain unemployed.

I don't know if the reporter was trying to be provocative, doesn't know what "xenophobia" means or was just part of a general media cluelessness that immigration affects labor market issues, but this was the question:

The woman who talked about sending a résumé said that her husband was out of work -- and she blamed it on the fact that the administration -- rules regarding the H1B visa were too lenient and too many foreigners were taking the jobs that maybe her husband would be able to get.

Today the President, I think in his bill that he sent over to Congress, talked about maybe loosening the cap on immigration from certain countries to attract more skilled laborers. And I think his response to her indicated he believes, in fact, that in some fields there’s a shortage of qualified folks and we need to attract the skilled laborers from overseas.

My question, generally, is: Is the President concerned that there might be a feeling of xenophobia or something going on out there when the economy is this tight and there are some concerns that reflect in that question from the woman?

-- Question from White House Press Corps

Still, I have to give the reporter some credit for even noticing that the issue the woman raised was indeed about work visas for foreign citizens. Most of the news media has buried that story and turned this episode instead into a question of whether the President is out of touch with the fact that a lot of people are unemployed.

The response from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, clarified that this Administration chooses to believe that there is no unemployment pain among higher-skilled Americans and that adding more foreign workers into those occupations won't affect American workers:

No -- well, I haven’t talked to him about that specifically. But I think that the President’s position, which you state clearly, is that we need to make it more possible for highly qualified people who are being educated here, or coming from abroad to work here, build businesses here, grow the economy here, create jobs here -- that is a message that you hear from business leaders across the country, especially in the fields of technology and engineering and the like, so -- which doesn’t take away from this individual’s experience at all, but the broader picture is one of a need for more engineers, a need for more highly skilled, highly educated workers to help us grow those industries in the United States that will be the foundation for our economic future.

-- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney

Got that? "This woman's experience" is a total aberration. It has nothing to do with a larger issue.


What about those 100,000 American engineers who -- according to the feds' own statistics -- are actively looking for a job but can't find anything? The White House just told us they don't exist. And do a Google search and see how many news organizations challenged the White House.

The fact is that the news media have conspired with the White House to erase all public evidence that those jobless American engineers even exist. It would be tooooooooo scary for the public to see them.

Also made to disappear this week are the unemployed computer programmers. And hundreds of thousands more American engineers and programmers have have given up looking for a job or been forced to work in other fields.

In the movie "Men In Black," it was the aliens who were kept out of sight. In real life this week, the White House put the alien workers front and center and pretended that the unemployed citizens don't exist so it can continue to satisfy the demands of business fat cats who they hope will donate generously to the campaign this year.

In case anybody might accuse Pres. Obama of being all talk but no action on his war against jobless higher-skilled Americans, his Administration immediately after the Jennifer encounter announced a major expansion in the ability of higher skill foreign workers to take U.S. jobs:

  • Expanding eligibility for a 17-month extension of foreign student visas for students with a prior degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
  • Providing work authorization for spouses of certain H-1B holders.
  • Offering E-3 visa holders from Australia and H-1B1 visa holders from Singapore and China a 240 day extension while their petitions for extension of status are pending.
  • Launching a new initiative to discuss how to maximize current immigration laws' potential to attract foreign entrepreneurial talent.

The spouses of H-1B holders probably will be competing mainly against Americans trying to find jobs in less-skilled occupations. But the fact that the engineers and programmers getting H-1B visas can add income through their spouses now allows these foreign workers to agree to lower pay than before, giving them another competitive advantage over Americans in the same field.

The one small piece of positive news in this devastating week for jobless higher-skilled Americans is that Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa) has indicated that he believes the "spouse visas" are illegal and he may launch an attempt to void them. Grassley has for years been the top Senate champion of changing the rules for H-1B visas so that American workers are truly protected against unfair competition.


Click here for a message that you can fax for free over this website into the White House.

ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA

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