Norm Matloff writes:
Seems like it's one outrage after another these days. And the biggest outrage of all is that almost no one is reporting it.
No one except Lou Dobbs, that is. Though uttering his name in flattering terms won't win one friends and help one influence people at a university faculty party, the fact is that these people are in denial. As Prof. Hira points out, H-1B and offshoring have come to epitomize the gradual—maybe I should say rapid—deterioration of our democracy.
As you will read below, India has tried to use the Doha Round of the WTO trade talks to slip in an unlimited worker visa, with no participation on the Hill at this point. If I recall correctly, the president no longer has fast-track trade authority, under which the Senate previoulsy could not vet trade agreements on a point-by-point basis, but still, it might be difficult to block something like this once approved by the negotiating parties.
The Dobbs show mentions NAFTA, but the history for this kind of thing goes even further back, to H-1B itself. The GATT supposedly forbids the U.S. from ever reducing the yearly H-1B cap below 65,000. Personally I don't think the language says that, but the consensus in DC, even among critics of the H-1B program, is that it does. On the other hand, if the GATT is indeed binding, then guess what—it requires the U.S. to impose on ALL H-1B employers the restrictions currently applied only to the minuscule category of H-1B-dependent firms. In DC, one can have one's cake and eat it too, as long as one is an industry lobbyist. See On The Need For Reform Of The H-1b Non-Immigrant Work Visa In Computer-Related Occupations[PDF]
By the way, I believe the special H-1B category for Singapore to get enacted, though the one for Chile was blocked after the Senate finally decided it politically wise to do so. See here.
NormLOU DOBBS: An outrageous effort tonight, trying to bring in more foreign labor at the expense of middle class workers. Free trade advocates in Geneva telling America to change our policy and raise the number of temporary workers allowed into our country. Bill Tucker has our report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Trade agreements and immigration policy wouldn't seem to have much in common. But workers and jobs are apparently becoming just commodities to be traded. The latest round of trade within the World Trade Organization known as the Doha (ph) Round, India is pressing the United States to create a new guest worker visa for highly skilled workers, effectively skirting the cap on the H-1B Visa.
It is a demand that relatively few people outside of trade negotiators are aware of and one expert in outsourcing is horrified. RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: I just find it amazing and unbelieveable that — that we have this opaque and un-Democratic process set up. TUCKER (voice over): U.S. trade negotiators refused to discuss the details of any negotiations at this point. If a new type of visa were created, it wouldn't be the first created by a trade agreement. In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement created the T-N (ph) visa, allowing workers from Canada and Mexico to work in the United States indefinitely. And in virtually every trade agreement since, there has been a provision allowing guest workers into the United States under what's known as trade and services. According to one group that lobbies for a more restricted immigration policy, such provisions benefit foreign companies that provide outsourcing services.
JESSICA VAUGHAN, CTR. FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: We're giving concessions to companies, so that they can establish a trade foothold in the United States. not to hire Americans and benefit our economy, but to bring in workers from abroad
TUCKER: Sixty-eight hundred guest worker visas were part of the free trade agreement with Singapore and Chile.
TUCKER (on camera): But those visas never made it into the final trade agreement (INAUDIBLE) because of a number of senators who were angry at the visas being included in the trade agreement, prompting a warning from several senators, Lou, against the inclusion of high skilled visas in trade agreements in the future. DOBBS: They need to take the Doha Round and square it off.
DOBBS: All right. Thank you very much. Bill Tucker Well, our poll results tonight: 73 percent of you say the national media is biased in favor of Senator Barack Obama. Thanks for being with us tonight. Please join us here tomorrow. For all of us, we thank you for watching. Good night from New York.
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT,July 21, 2008