The immigration problem is multi-faceted. President Trump has put a tremendous focus on illegal immigration, rightfully so, but the legal immigration system is in need of reform. One problem with legal immigration that has received a considerable amount of attention from American patriots is the H1-B visa program. This visa has nothing to do with people coming into the country to settle long term, but is used by companies to bring in laborers, and the question is why thousands of workers are being brought in on these visas every year when so many Americans need jobs.
As we have covered here before at Conservative Daily Post, the H1-B system is rife with fraud and abuse. The Trump administration is now making concrete moves to crack down on the problem with three recent actions.
On Monday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a memo announcing “multiple measures to further deter and detect H-1B visa fraud and abuse.” The memo states that visas should continue to be available for “highly-skilled foreign nationals when there is a shortage of qualified workers in the country,” but it acknowledges that “too many American workers who are as qualified, willing, and deserving to work in these fields have been ignored or unfairly disadvantaged.” In short, the H1-B visa system will remain in place for now, but it is going to be reformed to cut down on practices that harm the American worker.
The agency will begin making on-site visits to businesses that it has identified as having a high likelihood for ongoing H1-B fraud and abuse. These include businesses that lack basic publicly available information, depend on H1-B workers for a large portion of their workforce, or are requesting H1-B workers for work at off-site locations. Each of these characteristics is a red flag for possible fraud or abuse of the system.
The agency will conduct “random and unannounced visits nationwide.” One can imagine that business owners who have been profiting off the abuse of the system are sweating bullets and scrambling right now. The memo notes that these on-site raids will not target legal employees in any way, only employers who could be abusing the system.
The memo states that employers have an obligation to make a “good faith effort to recruit U.S. workers” before turning to foreign labor. The agency has also established an e-mail address (firstname.lastname@example.org) for anyone to send tips on employers in need of a random inspection. The memo also states that the agency has been visiting work sites to check for fraud since 2009, so these new policies and procedures are more of an amplification of already existing protocol than an entirely new practice.
There is a great deal of resistance from tech companies against Trump’s campaign pledges to reduce the H1-B visa program. These companies insist that they depend on H1-B visa workers and that any reduction would hurt their business. There have been suggestions of reform, however, that would improve the system without destroying it. One such suggestion is to allow those who come in on the visas to leave the companies they start with and get higher paying jobs. As it stands now, the workers are tied to the companies that bring them in, essentially making them indentured workers who can only remain in the company if they keep the same low paying jobs.
The problem with allowing workers to stay in the country and find work at any company is that it becomes another yet another pathway to long term immigration and still increases competition with U.S. workers at higher wages. Competition is of course an essential part of a free economy, but an important aspect of the new “Trumpism” is that the needs of the nation as a whole sometimes come before the profit bottom line.
In conjunction with the statement from the USCIS, Tom Wheeler, acting Assistant Director of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice also issued a statement on the matter. “The Justice Department will not tolerate employers misusing the H-1B visa process to discriminate against U.S. workers,” the Director said. The Justice Department statement on its website warns “employers petitioning for H-1B visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers.”
The Justice Department cited the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act as prohibiting discrimination against U.S. workers in hiring or firing.
In a high-profile story of 2016, hundreds of American computer programmers at Disney were forced to train their replacements, who had been brought in to work at lower wages. This was a blatant case of discrimination against American workers purely driven by considerations of profit. One of the disadvantaged workers spoke out, saying, “They all claim to come in on this visa because they are better than Americans, yet they come in on the lowest pay scales.” Another Disney worker said, “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”
This week’s announcement was not the only action by the administration on this issue. Last month, the administration suspended the issuance of expedited H1-B visas for those who pay more. The expedition process allowed workers’ visas to be approved in as short a time as 15 days, rather than a few months. The suspension will last for up to six months while the program is reviewed. The suspension will be waived for workers with special considerations such as “humanitarian reasons, an emergency situation or the prospect of severe financial loss to a company or individual.”
These actions by the Trump administration should ease the concerns of supporters who were growing impatient waiting for steps to be taken to reform the H1-B visa program. However, these measures will surely not be enough for those Trump supporters who want the program to be ended entirely. There are those who would rather see every single one of these jobs go to Americans. While no doubt there are cases when it makes sense to bring in foreign labor, provisions should be made for training and placing capable Americans in high level tech jobs. Considering so many of the original great tech companies began in America, there is no reason we shouldn’t be able to dominate the tech world again in every way.