Senators are certain to grill Mark Zuckerberg about how Facebook trades personal data for financial gain, but while he’s in the hot seat, they should also be getting answers why he and other tech companies continue to sell good-paying American jobs to foreign workers through the H-1B visa program.
It would be a particularly timely line of questioning given that U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) just announced on Friday that the 65,000 H-1B visa cap had been reached in less than five days.
The visas permit American companies in a range of industries to hire foreign workers for up to six years in “specialty” occupations that generally require a Bachelor’s degree. The sectors can vary as widely as engineering and medicine to journalism and academia.
In the past, outsourcing and contracting firms have dominated the H-1B market, but the San Francisco Chronicle reported applications were down among three of the top four firms between 2015 and 2017.
On the other hand, tech companies were increasing the number of visa requests. Facebook’s applications jumped more than 71 percent, while Uber upped their applications by 115 percent and Tesla by an astonishing 194 percent.
According to a report by the Silicon Valley Competitiveness and Innovation Project (SVCIP), almost two-thirds of those working in the largest tech centers were not born in the U.S.
Those findings mirror a Seattle Times analysis that found 71 percent of San Jose information technology workers were foreign-born aliens, while 50 percent of those in San Francisco and nearly 40 percent in Seattle were not born in America.
As the founder of the open borders interest group, FWD.us, Zuckerberg has perpetuated a fake story about a “skills gap” in engineering and tech. He might want to check his own facts.
In a 2016 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Rutgers University professor, Dr. Hal Salzman, got straight to the program’s fatal flaw.
“The fundamental problem of U.S. and foreign IT outsourcing firms’ hiring practices is the exclusion of U.S. workers–whether native or immigrant, citizen or permanent resident—which is made possible by specially crafted legislation for this purpose; it is legislation that serves as a congressionally-provided subsidy to a highly profitable industry to hire guestworkers at the expense of jobs for U.S. workers,” Salzman testified.
Ron Hira, an associate professor at Howard University, put it in human terms.
“American workers lose their jobs to H-1Bs, lose wages and bargaining power to H-1Bs, and the government spends pennies on training for jobs that are cheaper to fill with H-1Bs,” he said. “This is fool’s gold for American workers. It is a lose-lose situation,” added Hira.
It might be time for Zuckerberg and his allies to not only protect the data of their users and customers, but also the jobs and wages of highly trained American workers who want to contribute to our tech-based economy.