Norm Matloff writes:
The enclosed article tells an interesting story, illustrating how companies are becoming ever more brazen in their use of foreign labor, here and overseas. You should read it—but I won't comment on its main content. Instead, I wish to focus on one passage:Nielsen's layoffs also drew attention from CNN's Lou Dobbs, who has railed against the H-1B program. India offshore providers are major users of the H-1B visa, with Tata getting 797 of the visas in 2007. Opponents cite the visa's use in outsourcing to counter tech industry claims by Bill Gates and others that the visa is used to hire "the best and the brightest" foreign graduates of U.S. universities. Congress is currently struggling to find a middle ground through legislative efforts to give a Green Card, or permanent residency, to foreign nationals who receive advanced degrees from U.S. universities.[Tax break fuels anger over outsourcing-related layoffs in Fla., Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld.com, July 1, 2008 ]This is a standard line from the industry biggies, the Intels, Microsofts and so on: "Yes, there is abuse of H-1B by the Indian body shops, but we are responsible users of the program, hiring mainly foreign students at U.S. universities." This is extremely misleading.
Aside from the fact that there is no reason why the foreign students should be the "good" H-1Bs while the ones imported directly from India are "bad," the central point is that the mainstream industry firms widely abuse the program too.
A case in point was shown in my earlierÂ posting , with Cisco Systems. Cisco ran a job ad specifying that only American workers could apply—yet referred all applicants to one M.E. Clarke, who turned out to be with Cisco's immigration law firm, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP. It was a fake ad with a fake claim that the job was open only to Americans. This is a great, immediately understandable, public example that I will use frequently from now on, but all of us in this business have seen this happen many times over the years.
When "TubeGate" came out—the videos of a well-known Pittburgh immigration law firm showing its clients how to exploit loopholes in H-1B and green card law—I published a partial list of the firm's clients, and pointed out that these were mostly mainstream firms in and around Pittsburgh, such as Westinghouse, Marconi, PNC Financial Services, Bayer, and so on. SeeÂ Cohen & Grigsby and the prevailing-wage scam
Get the picture? It's not just the Indian body shops; it's Cisco, it's Microsoft, it's everyone. As I've said before, it's just like the tax code. Every firm, large or small, takes full advantage of loopholes in the tax code, and they do the same for loopholes in H-1B and green card law.
So if Congress is indeed trying to find a middle ground based on the premise that the mainstream American firms are responsible and the Indian body shops are the abuses, this won't solve the problem at all. As I have explained before, the "automatic green card" proposals for foreign students would have just as much adverse impact on U.S. citizens and permanent residents as would increasing H-1B. That so-called "middle ground" approach would in fact likely make things even worse, as it would create its own demand, with more and more foreign students coming here, attracted by free green cards.
The above passage also says that we opponents counter the industry's claim that it hires "the best and the brightest" by pointing to the fact that many H-1Bs are used to faciliate offshoring. This is false. We do point to this fact, but as a response to another industry line, "If we can't import H-1Bs, we'll have to export the work itself, sending it offshore"—not as a counter to the industry's argument that the H-1Bs are geniuses. The latter claim is easily seen to be false, by simply looking at H-1B salaries, which (even accounting for underpayment) are nothing like genius-level pay. This has been known in rough form for years, and I quantified it in my recent CIS article; see H-1Bs:Â Still Not the Best and the Brightest