Importing Cheap Labor Eliminates American IT Jobs

Immigration policy played an important part in the debate before and after the 2016 election.

The debate was focused on whether or not to protect undocumented aliens in the United States because they do “jobs Americans won’t do” – for example agriculture, food processing, and unskilled construction.

But no attention has been paid to protecting jobs Americans are doing from documented alien labor.

Despite the loss of +/- 200,000 US technology jobs, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) proceeded to awarded 85,000 “temporary high skilled knowledge worker” non-immigrant visas (H1-B) to foreign contract worker firms and American technology firms — 85,000 direct competitors for the limited number of IT jobs available in 2016 and 2017.

Why are we not Employing American Workers?

The phenomenon is not new. Computer World estimates that at least 776,000 tech workers have entered the United States to directly compete with American workers between 2007 and 2017.

For the last few years, the majority of these visas (65,000 annually) went to India-based contract labor (outsourcing) firms. The firms, in turn, hire BA graduates from Indian colleges and universities to fill the visas.

The advanced degree quota for H1-B visas (20,000 annually) go to high technology companies — Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Intel, to name just a few.

In addition, H1-B visas are issued to American college and universities above the annual quota stipulated by Congress.

While, at the same time, the National Institutes of Health spends $11 million a year to help US citizen Ph.D. graduates in STEM to find alternative careers. There are not enough jobs for all the Ph.D. graduates USA universities produce.

Solution: Hire a Made-in-America Worker

The H1-B visa program poses a direct threat to US technology workers – both present and future – as the numbers of these workers have continued to grow despite a general weakening of demand for IT workers in the United States.

In recent years more and more high profile American companies have fired entire departments of American workers and hired H1-B replacements.

  • Southern California Edison
  • Northeast Utilities
  • Toys R Us
  • Disney Company http://www.mercurynews.com/2016/09/06/emmons-when-walt-disney-co-replaces-americans-with-h1b-workers-its-a-small-world-for-sure/
  • University of California San Francisco Medical Center
  • Too many more to name

In all of these situations, the American workers were required to train their replacements as a condition of receiving their severance pay!

Many of the displaced workers had 10, 15 or 20 years of service to the firms that dismissed them in the name of profits. http://fortune.com/2015/12/24/disney-bob-iger-compensation/

Turn-off the Spigot

Despite extensive investigation and numerous hearings before Congressional Committees no action has been taken to correct the abuses of the H1-B program.

Currently there are three bills pending. One in the Senate and two in the House, including one authored by Silicon Valley representative Zoe Lofgren which would require H1-B employers to pay 150 to 200 percent of the current prevailing wage for that job classification – a move that would bring the program back to its original intent. Once, again, the H1-B visa would be reserved for the rare, unusual and uniquely skilled job creator.

In addition, the Trump Administration has issued an Executive Order to “study” the problem but did so without turning off the spigot.

Exactly the opposite should be done.

There is a practice from an earlier time in information technology that applies to the current H1-B situation.

Before every executive had a laptop with a company performance dashboard in the middle of his/her desk, IT departments used to produce volumes of paper reports. Periodically, the queue of reports had to be “cleared” to reduce wasted paper and reduce labor costs.

The IT Department would simply stop printing all the reports one Friday evening and wait to hear on Monday who called and asked for their report. If no one asked for a specific report by the following Friday, it was discontinued.

Instead of waiting for Congress – which has shown no appetite to touch anything related to immigration this year – let’s just turn-off the spigot by Executive Order.

Don’t hold a lottery to award the 85,000 2017 H1-B visas and see if any labor shortage occurs – if any company mounts a court challenge in the name of shareholder profits.

It is more likely that the result would more be more jobs and better wages for American technology workers.

Homeless Vet

A Single Homeless Veteran Is an American Disgrace – 1.4 Million A National Shame

Yesterday I logged onto Amazon.com to buy a special pair of running shoes for my son. Before I had a chance to go to search window, Amazon presented me with offers to buy three recently or about to published books.

Amazon technology “remembered” that I had purchased the first two volumes of Ken Follett’s trilogy on twentieth century Europe. Volume three is going to be released in mid-October. I can’t wait – such great writing!

I bought all three books in less than 5 minutes.

The running shoes – I didn’t find them in my son’s size and the price was higher than expected. But I am certain that between now and Christmas, Amazon will shoot me an e-mail offer in his size – at a price I am willing to pay – delivered free in 48 hours.

That’s the power of customer focused business, fueled by solid but not extraordinary technology.

Veterans Administration Has NO Customer Focus

I take Amazon’s efficiency as much for granted as I do government inefficiency.

Still I was shocked by a front page story about a disabled Vietnam-era veteran in today’s San Jose Mercury News.

But I was just as surprised by the indifference David Reiss met inside the VA. Indifference that is deeply imbedded in the VA culture the VA sources quoted in the article didn’t even recognize that they were personally accountable to their fellow human being.

Dr. Abigail Wilson, Mr. Reiss’s VA Health Care surgeon complained how difficult it is to treat a seriously ill veteran who is living in an SUV. She said she “referred him to the Veterans Administration” but the VA disability pension, granted after a long delay, was not enough to pay for permanent housing. That’s yet another bureaucracy.

In the meantime, this veteran “lives” in the Regional Medical Center parking lot – to remain close to the Emergency Room!

America Owes Veterans a Roof over Their Heads

Vietnam era veterans were largely drafted – right out of high school.

For the last 40 years military volunteers were induced by promises of college and/or career.

After a series of wars and expeditions draftees and volunteers returned to civilian life with physical and psychological scars the rest of us cannot even imagine and, too often, without the job skills our economy values. Too many have ended up hopeless, drug-addicted, and homeless.

In 2009 Congress passed legislation aimed at ending veteran homelessness by – drumroll please – 2016!

I wonder where these self-satisfied, comfortably warm and air-conditioned representatives and VA bureaucrats thought these veterans would eat and sleep during the decade long effort.

A measure of the level of indifference facing US veterans is the elasticity in the number, itself. The VA estimated there are 57,800 homeless veterans daily in 2012. The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs put the number at 62,900 during the same period.

That’s a daily difference of 5100 – or 1.8 million days of veteran homelessness in a single year.

If that’s not an emergency, then what is?

Veterans Need an Advocate

In the 21st century the VA should be able to connect the dots – using either the veteran’s Social Security Number or Military Identification Number – to coordinate health care, disability, housing and other resources. But we’ve learned such simple automated coordination is impossible in today’s VA.

Lacking the tools to quickly connect the dots makes it tougher to solve the problem but not impossible.

The VA must urgently recruit a corps of Veteran Relationship Managers (VRM) to serve as personal advocates for each veteran. The advocate would work with local homeless aid organizations and law enforcement to identify veterans who need VA services. As well as soliciting referrals from VA Health Care and Claims Offices.

For each veteran, the advocate would use the various disconnected systems to gather and verify needed information, determine care and services required. The advocate would, then, use the same systems plus telephone calls, e-mail, confrontation of VA bureaucrats – whatever is needed to get a veteran services beginning in less than 90 days and stay with the veteran to “wellness”.

Veteran Relationship Managers can be recruited from demobilizing current military members. Their experience will give them empathy. Their ethos remains — we leave no man or woman behind on the battlefield.

Most importantly the modern veteran is characterized by a “can do” attitude. It’s that attitude that will give homeless, hopeless veterans a fresh grasp on life. It’s an attitude that must come to characterize the 21st century Veterans Administration.

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

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