Time to stop anti-American discrimination by American firms | SierraSun.com

Time to stop anti-American discrimination by American firms

Thomas Elias

It’s an open question now whether the egregious abuse of H-1B immigration visas by large corporations will ever be fixed.

That’s because a small organization dedicated to helping American workers get jobs for which American companies are now importing foreign immigrants has uncovered a 2006 document demonstrating that letting foreigners take jobs Americans could fill is in fact the policy of the Bush Administration.

States the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strategic Plan for the fiscal years 2006 to 2011, “H-1B workers may be hired even when a qualified U.S. worker wants the job, and a U.S. worker can be displaced from the job in favor of the foreign worker.”

The Federal Register adds that “the statute does not require employers to demonstrate that there are no available U.S. workers or to test the labor market for U.S. workers as required under the permanent labor certification program.”

That damning language was uncovered by Donna Conroy of the organization Brightfuturejobs.org.

It seems to confirm what thousands of displaced American engineers and technical workers have believed for years: Large U.S. companies including Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and other Silicon Valley stalwarts bring in thousands of skilled foreign workers each year not because they can’t find American workers to fill their jobs, but because they can pay the immigrants less.

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The actual intent of H-1B visas is to allow American companies to recruit immigrant labor when they can’t find sufficient qualified U.S. citizens or legal residents to fill open positions. Each year, the electronic giants of the Silicon Valley lead a lobbying effort to get Congress to expand the limit on H-1Bs from 65,000 to some far higher figure.

These companies aim not merely to fill jobs for which they can’t find U.S. citizens and green card holders, but to feather their financial nests, as the Labor Department documents indicate.

What happened early this year provides good evidence of who is really coming in on H-1B’s: It is not principally Ph.D.’s and other highly educated persons. Rather, it is primarily factory workers, low-level draftsmen and the like.

The evidence is clear: Out of 132,000 applications received on the first day they were accepted for the 2007 quota of 65,000 visas, just 12,989 were from applicants with master’s degrees or higher. That meant the vast bulk of applications came from workers with bachelor’s degrees or less. These are not high-level researchers and software engineers, as they are often billed. They may be laboratory technicians or other skilled laborers, but there is no demonstrated shortage of Americans workers for those jobs.

Of course, the Labor Department has made it clear to the companies they don’t have to demonstrate any shortage of U.S. workers; they can hire all the cheap labor they can somehow bring into this country.

It’s not that the foreign workers they bring in lack merit. In fact, most are dedicated employees and become taxpaying contributors to American society. But the many Americans either bumped out of their jobs by this Bush-sanctioned corporate welfare are also dedicated employees and taxpayers.

Interestingly, no one has heard Colorado’s Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, now running for President on a jingoistic anti-immigrant platform, complain about the government-backed misuse of H-1Bs. Nor any of the other groups now trying loudly to tighten up both the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Rather, it is two liberal Democratic politicians, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell, who are carrying similar bills to wipe out the Labor Department language that now subverts the plain intent of the H-1B visas.

For now, companies that discriminate against American citizens when hiring are legally protected by the Bush administration, which kept its disgraceful and possibly illegal rules quiet until Conroy discovered them.

Only if the Durbin-Pascrell legislation passes will citizens and legal immigrants have an opportunity to compete for the top dollar, white collar jobs at stake here.

And even if their bills should succeed in Congress, they would still need the signature of President Bush to end illegal discrimination against Americans and green card holders. Of course, if Bush wants to fix the problem, he need not wait for Congress to act. All he’d have to do is pick up his telephone and order his labor secretary to change the rules back to what they are supposed to be.

He’s had years to do this, but has shown no inclination because he knows who his campaign donors have been. So it’s unlikely he would sign such a bill even if it

reached him.

Which means there will probably be no change in the current anti-American discrimination by American companies until there is a new President.