Foreign-worker program that undercuts skilled American workers likely headed for major transformation
The H-1B worker visa program could finally get an overdue revamp.
The H-1B visa program, which ushers foreign workers into U.S.-based jobs (mainly technology work), has been mentioned by President-Elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail.
And now that Trump approaches the White House, those who support the unfettered growth of the program are having panic attacks. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is a leading supporter of the program, and thinks the annual number of foreign workers brought in is too low.
Some of the USCC’s top backers, not surprisingly, also think this too. Among the mega-backers of expanding the H-1B visa quota is Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.
The USCC, and Indian companies who benefit from the outsourcing, may be meeting soon to reach a consensus strategy in the wake of Trump’s win. Chamber of Commerce officials did not return a message seeking comment about what they are planning to do, after LifeZette received a tip about a possible meeting in Washington, D.C.
Critics of the program say the powerful USCC, the foremost national business lobby, needs to reconsider its support for the H-1B program, which was kicked off in 1990. The program is supposed to supplement and aid U.S. tech workers — not replace them. Instead, critics charge the program is being used to cut wages in the industry by replacing skilled U.S. workers with cheap foreign replacements.
“[The USCC] is too vested in the idea,” said Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a watchdog agency that opposes the visa program. “It’s past time to scrub the whole thing and start over.”
Stein said it’s likely too late to salvage the program, which was founded in 1990. Trump himself sometimes appeared on stage with perhaps the most famous American victims of the program, former Walt Disney Co. employees who had to train their Indian replacements on the way out the door.
In March 2015, The New York Times wrote about the October 2014 layoffs of 250 Disney employees, many in Florida. Trump’s campaign used the issue to get a leg up on his rival, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
“Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India,” The Times wrote. “Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.”
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