Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Amnesty Reform Must Include Guestworkers

The word "comprehensive" is usually attached to talk of immigration reform, but Congress is stumbling over reform of the admission of guestworkers. That's the biggest bone of contention between pro-amnesty and anti-amnesty folk. The high-paid lobbyists assigned to this issue are split. Big business interests (chanting "let the market decide") are trying to bring in as many low-paid workers as possible, while the unions want to save jobs for their members.

H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 a year and are supposed to be for jobs that require technical expertise (scientists, engineers, computer programmers) and be used only when U.S. citizens are not available. Business welcomes the crush of applicants from Indian placement agencies (they are called body shops).The top ten users of H-1Bs visas are offshore outsourcing firms. Asians make up half of San Jose's technology workforce, according to November Census Bureau data. That's a sharp rise from ten years ago when it was about 39 percent.

Employers prefer to hire foreigners because they are paid less, cannot quit, and are treated like indentured servants. Guestworkers are supposed to go back home when their visas expire, but we have no guarantee that they depart. The wage differential is significant. In New York City, the prevailing wage for an entry-level computer systems engineer is $68,370, but is $120,037 for a fully competent worker. The foreigners are usually hired as entry-level, and then, after they are hired, trained by laid-off Americans.

Estimates are that at least 50 percent and as many as 70 or 80 percent of our nation's agriculture workers are here illegally. Guestworker shepherds brought in from Peru to tend U.S. sheep just "disappeared" in order to hunt for better jobs.

Listen to the radio commentary here:



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