Guest Worker Reforms Are ‘PR Fix’ for Silicon Valley
New legislation being pushed by Democrats to slightly reform the H1-B foreign guest worker program is designed to make giant, tech conglomerates look good, rather than widely reforming the program, an immigration expert says.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) both have proposed legislation that they call “bipartisan,” which would subsequently raise the pay for foreign workers using the H1-B visa program, in order to weed out American workers being replaced with cheaper, foreign labor.
The H1-B visa program was originally created to allow U.S. companies to temporarily hire foreign guest workers to do highly-skilled jobs.
Under Lofgren’s legislation, according to PTI, would eliminate the option for companies to pay H1-B workers the lowest salary possible, and instead pay them $130,000 or more.
“My legislation refocuses the H-1B program to its original intent–to seek out and find the best and brightest from around the world, and to supplement the U.S. workforce with talented, highly-paid, and highly-skilled workers who help create jobs here in America, not replace them,” Lofgren told the media in a statement.
Similarly, Brown’s legislation would mirror Lofgren’s bill in the sense that it would not deal with the number of H1-B visas given every year to foreign workers, but instead close loopholes that allow companies to hire cheaper, foreign workers over American workers.
NumbersUSA’s Director of Government Relations Rosemary Jenks told Breitbart Texas that both pieces of legislation are designed to look as though they are dealing with the problem of the H1-B visa program, but they are actually trying to help massive, California-based tech companies.
“[Lofgren] is not at all interested in slowing down the H1-B program,” Jenks said in an interview. “Her purpose is not to seriously reform the program. Her purpose is to fix a PR problem for the tech companies.”
The public relations problem Jenks is referring to revolves around Americans’ distrust of the H1-B visa program, which many feels outsources jobs to foreign workers without making sure there are no Americans to fill them.
Back in 2015, a Washington Times poll found that some 73 percent of American employers opposed the federal government allowing American companies to issue more H1-B visas to foreign workers.
Jenks said the legislation would help keep companies from using the H1-B program as a cheap labor outsource strategy, but fears that it will be portrayed as the end-all-be-all solution to the bigger problem of the number of foreign guest worker visas that are currently being used.
“None of these bills are looking at the problem as to what is best for American workers,” Jenks said. “It’s about how to get the tech companies what they want without the bad PR.”
“It is absolutely a problem that American companies are using H1-B to replace American workers, because they can hire foreign workers for cheaper,” Jenks continued. “But there’s a slew of other problems that need to be addressed.”
“This is about trying to make sure these businesses repeat the same scandals they were previously involved in,” Jenks said. “Those types of things are what drive Americans to dislike the H1-B program.”
“The point is to really try to look like they’re addressing the bigger problem, but they’re only addressing this one, small problem of pay and salary,” Jenks continued.
President Donald Trump’s administration has already floated ideas of how they could reform the H1-B program through executive orders, as Breitbart Texas reported.
Trump’s drafted executive order on reforming the H1-B visa program would force tech companies like Alphabet, Facebook, and Apple to prioritize hiring Americans; and if a foreign guest worker is hired under the program, priority must be given to the company willing to pay the highest salary.
Another stipulation of Trump’s potential executive order would be site visits to companies using H1-B visa workers to make sure employees are doing the jobs they were brought in for.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
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