04 May 2015

Another Reason to Love Bernie

Senator Sanders (D-VT) is very dubious of the arguments put forward by the advocates of the H-1B immigrant visa:
The H-1B visa issue rarely surfaces during presidential races, and that's what makes the entrance by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) into the 2016 presidential race so interesting.

As a senator, Sanders does not have a lot of political clout. He's an independent socialist whose major campaign contributors are unions. But Sanders this week announced he's running for the Democratic nomination for president, a move that could raise the visibility of the H-1B visa as a national issue.

Sanders is very skeptical of the H-1B program, and has lambasted tech firms for hiring visa workers at the same time they're cutting staff. He's especially critical of the visa's use in offshore outsourcing.

"Last year, the top 10 employers of H-1B guest workers were all offshore outsourcing companies," Sanders said in a Senate speech in 2013. "These firms are responsible for shipping large numbers of American information technology jobs to India and other countries."

The points raised by Sanders echo those made by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who chairs the Senate's Immigration subcommittee. In fact, Sanders was one of 10 senators who signed a recent letter by Sessions and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to several federal departments seeking an investigation into H-1B use.

Sanders does accept, with limitations, high-tech industry arguments "that they need the H-1B program so they can hire the best and the brightest science, technology, engineering, and math workers in the world, and that there are not enough qualified American workers in these fields. In some cases -- let me be very honest -- I think that is true."

There are some companies "in some parts of the country that are unable to attract American workers to do the jobs that are needed," said Sanders. But he also cites a Government Accountability Office report that said just over half of the H-1B workers are employed in entry-level jobs. He cites other studies that suggest H-1B workers are paid less than similarly employed U.S. workers.
95%+ of the H-1B (and L-1) visas out there are about cheap (and captive) labor, not essential talent.

Not only are they more poorly paid, they serve to depress the wages of citizens and green card holders.

Set a limited number of visas, and let employers bid against each other for them.

Suddenly it becomes a higher cost option, which weeds out the people who are looking for cheap labor.


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