September 11, 2009

Congress' H-1b program is displacing daughter of Programmers Guild president out of the job market

(Please also see email to a Sacramento employer who is running a PERM ad to demonstrate that "no Americans are available" to sponsor an H-1b worker for a green card.)

For years the Programmers Guild has been calling for some basic reforms to the H-1b program. Now the harm of the H-1b program is hitting home.

In May 2009, Kim's daughter Stephanie graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) with dual STEM degrees. (U.S. News ranks USC Engineering school 7th in the nation.) Stephanie completed both degrees in only four years and worked at summer internships. She has incurred student loans approaching six figures. Her resume is here - and Stephanie is willing to speak with reporters.

  • M.S. Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering
  • B.S. Civil Engineering, Building Science (Architectural Engineering)
  • National Honor Societies: Chi Epsilon, Tau Beta Pi, Mortar Board (Webmaster), Phi Kappa Phi
  • GPA: 3.840

In spite of a diligent search for work through the summer, she - along with many of her USC classmates - is unable to find a job. This is a typical response:

On Wed, Sep 2, 2009 at 9:54 AM:

Hello Stephanie Ė

Thank you for your resume, it is very impressive. Unfortunately, as Iím sure youíre aware, the state of the economy is not good, and Las Vegas especially has been hit harder than most. I would truly like to bring you in for an interview and hire, but we just donít have the workload capacity to hire anyone right now.
 

Yet, even in this worst job market in 25 years, in October 2009 Congress will flood in another 65,000 H-1b workers. In 99% of these jobs Congress did not even require that employers first try to fill these jobs with American workers.

Currently, these 65,000 jobs are unfilled. In the past, USCIS and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) have refused to disclose these job openings - effectively reserving U.S. jobs for foreign workers:

Consistently, DOL has not posted the FY 2009 Labor Condition Application (LCA) records on the DOL website: They will wait until after the jobs have been filled by temporary foreign workers - because Congress does not require that the records be disclosed prior to the jobs being filled.

Complete H-1b LCA records for prior years are on this DOL webpage. (The FY 2008 file is the source of the Excel extract in the following link.)

 

FACT: Stephanie is qualified to fill many of these jobs that DOL is reserving the H-1b workers.

An Excel file containing the Civil Engineering and Architectural categories of approved LCAs for FY2008 is zipped here. The jobs that pay $40,000 or less (or $20/hour or less) are highlighted in pink. The jobs within the Sacramento region are highlighted in green. You can sort by zip code, wage, or other fields to analyze this data. There are over 8000 approved LCAs within this job category. (Note that not all LCA jobs are subsquently filled by H-1b workers.) These jobs require a minimum of a BS degree in a technical field, and presume that the candidate also has "specialized skills."

Here are a few:

ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNER - $13.55/hour
Daniel Chudnovsky, A.I.A. Architects, Inc.
1964 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTER - $15.38/hour
Winter & Company
1265 Yellow Pine Ave
Boulder, CO 80303
ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTER - $28,600/yr
Ted Tokio Tanaka Architects
11307 Hindry Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90045
DESIGN ENGINEER/CAD SPECIALIST - $28,800/yr
Team 7 International
1648 Union St. #101
San Francisco, CA 94123
CIVIL ENGINEER - $40,000/yr
Atlantic Engineering Laboratories
41 Murray Street
Rahway, NJ 07065

These jobs all fully comply with the DOL's "prevailing wage" requirement - because the DOL prevailing wage is a sham. Stephanie is likely a stronger candidate than the H-1b workers who are filling these jobs. This is likely true of the thousands of jobs that DOL is currently reserving the H-1b workers to fill next month as well.

 

FACT: Stephanie and other new graduates could easily find work if Congress executed a few simple emergency steps:

  • Immediately suspend the H-1b program and require that USCIS and DOL publicize the 65,000 current U.S. job openings.

  • Require that all jobs currently held by H-1b workers be re-opened for U.S. applicants.

  • Reform the H-1b program to require that employers first try to recruit U.S. workers, and to pay a prevailing wage at least equal to what average-skilled Americans are earning within the job classifications.

  • Repeal the 17 months OPT extension that Chertoff decreed as a "DHS Emergency."

 

FACT: Underpaid H-1b workers are flooding into the Sacramento Region

A zipped Excel of the 1466 FY2008 LCAs for all occupations for the Sacramento Region is here. Of these, DOL only denied 4 of them. Approvals include LCAs that suggest below market wages if not H-1b fraud - such as sponsoring several H-1b workers from a residential address:

There are dozens more just in the Sacramento region, and thousands nationwide - comprising a substantial percentage of H-1b usage.  In the Sacramento region it appears that most of the sponsors are third-party bodyshops rather than principal employers of the workers.

How do bodyshops that operate out of residences the have a critical need for foreign workers? Are these the employers that Congress fears will "relocate out of the U.S." if U.S. worker protections are added to the H-1b program? These bodyshops are not filling a shortage - instead they market their resumes and services in direct competition with the U.S. workers in this Congressional District. In some cases they receive favored treatment on contracts because they are "minority owned." On what basis does Congress give racial hiring preference to recent non-citizen immigrants over native-born citizens?

 

FACT: USC promotes the benefits of hiring foreign workers over U.S. workers

One would think that after spending $100,000 at USC that the school would aggressively try to find work for its U.S. citizen graduates. But the opposite is occurring USC advocates hiring International students over Americans because it's cheaper to hire foreign workers! Until a few weeks ago USC was running the following on their website - (until I emailed ois@usc.edu objecting to it on 8/14/2009.)

http://www.programmersguild.org/local/usc_h1b_info.html

Frequently Asked Questions

Doesn't an employer have to prove that international students are not taking jobs from a qualified American?

No. American employers are not required to document that a citizen of another country did not take a job from a qualified American if that person is working under a F-1, J-1 or H-1B visa. Employers must document that they did not turn down a qualified American applicant for the position only when they wish to hire foreign citizens on a permanent basis and sponsor them for a permanent resident status ("green card").

Isn't it illegal to hire international students because they do not have a green card?

No. Federal regulations permit the employment of international students on F-1 and J-1 visas within certain limits. These visas allow students to work in jobs related to their major field of study. F-1 students can work on "practical training." J-I students may work on "academic training."

Even if it's legal to hire international students, won't it cost a lot of money and involve a lot of paperwork?

No. The only cost to the employer hiring international students is the time and effort to interview and select the best candidate for the job. The international student office handles the paperwork involved in securing the work authorization for F-1 and J-1 students. In fact, a company may save money by hiring international students because the majority of them are exempt from Social Security (FICA) and Medicare tax requirements.

 

FACT: Stephanie was a key plaintiff in the suit against Department of Homeland Security's "emergency" extension of the OPT program from 12 months to 29 months.

The above regulations are not H-1b but rather the OPT program which, unlike the H-1b visa, does not even contain a prevailing wage requirement.

Programmers Guild founder John Miano and other attorneys presented oral arguments in an appeal from a lower court's ruling that "U.S. workers do not have standing to challenge regulations that affect their employment opportunities." The court has posted a recording of the oral argument. The Briefs are here (pdf)

Recently, the Federal appellate court affirmed that Stephanie lacked standing to challenge this extension.

 

FACT: H-1b is not the only problem

Congress did not stop at the H-1b program. They also devised the L-1 visa program, which allows employers to transfer workers from overseas to work in the U.S., while still paying them their foreign wages. This has created a huge incentive for companies like Intel to set up shop in India and China, hire their graduates, then rotate those workers into the U.S. to fill the jobs with cheaper labor.

According to this image from www.cis.org Congress admitted 1.3 million foreign workers into the U.S. in FY 2008. I suspect that, in spite of the hardship Americans are having finding work, Congress will admit over on million foreign workers into the U.S. in FY 2009 - only 9000 within the "extraordinary ability" category. (Note that Stephanie forced to compete for entry-level jobs against 70,000 OPT foreign graduates):

Refer to "125,000 brand new foreign workers with work permits each month -- HERE'S THE PROOF - By Roy Beck, Wednesday, August 19, 2009" for more evidence.
 

 

FACT: The H-1b is harming thousands of U.S. workers

Hundreds of U.S. tech workers have detailed their personal experiences in the "H-1b Harm Report" at www.HireAmericansFirst.org. Most of these workers are willing to speak with the media. For example:

Exult My husband lost his computer programming job when his company imported cheaper programmers from India.

Lucent Technologies I was displaced from my contract position in August 2001 while the
H-1B guest workers were retained.

PG&E (San Francisco) My company was actively hiring Indian contractors through Tata and Infosys at the time I was let go.

Cognizant The company is phasing out American consultants, and later this year, American employees of that company.

MMO and SnapOn Replaced by H-1B. Spouse replaced by guest worker too.

General Electric Healthcare I am now retired from GE Healtcare, Milwaukee. I was forced into retirement at age 60, and eventually replaced by H-1B workers. Several American engineers have been replaced at GE by H-1B and green card workers.

AT&T/TATA In October 2001 our office was notified that come Jan 1, 2002 the office would be closed. Within days of the closing, foreign nations were being bused in to the vacated center.

The University of Chicago Laid off, lost valuable benefits while H-1b workers retained. Not interviewed for 81 positions while at same time U.S. Labor Dept. of Labor approved 208 foreign nationals to work at same employer

Lincoln Financial Applied for an Actuate Developer job at company and was turned down. However, they did hire a colleague of mine for the same position who was an H-1B worker and who I had trained and mentored at a previous employer.

Mastercard In 2001, lost contract as company moved away from Americans to H-1B contractors
McDonalds, Discover, and others The issue I am facing is L-1s now more than H-1b visas. L-1 are being used to bring a foreign workers over for training and then the company eliminates higher cost employees and consultants.

Phillips Semiconductor In 1998 I was replaced by an H-1b from India while working at Phillips Semiconductor in Mountain View California.

Cognizant Technologies Indian Consulting firms set up phony interviews with the objective of gaining salary information.

PERM FAKE ADS I applied for many positions listed in ads only to find out that the position listed were mostly ads to justify H-1B positions of people working for companies whose H-1B positions were being renewed.

IBS US (El Dorado Hills, California) H-1B workers never complained about working weekends without pay, as they were faced with losing their Visa if they lost their job. Laid off in 2001 while H-1B holders were retained.

IBM After 30 years as an IT professional, I cannot get so much as an interview.

Anthem Blue Cross California As a programmer at Anthem Blue Cross, I was among many who were coerced into taking early retirement in lieu of losing our retirement benefits. This made room for more H-1b visa programmers from India.

Fiserv Company laid off all American programmers and kept foreigners - H-1Bs and other visa holders.

WiPro & InfoSys I just finished my M.S. Degree in Computer Science. I continue to see U.S. Citizen's jobs outsourced or offshored or both to India and China. My current company employs Wipro & InfoSys. They are laying off U.S. workers and hiring "contractors" from these two companies to do their job in the U.S. (under visa program) or in India.