The Center for Immigration Studies hosted a panel discussion focusing on guest worker abuse and the impact on American high-skilled labor. Discussion centered on a new book by Michelle Malkin and John Miano, Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires and Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasals Are Screwing America's Best and Brightest Workers. Joining Malkin and Miano was Leo Perrero, one of the IT workers fired by Disney and required to train their foreign replacements.
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Panel Announcement: The Betrayal of America's Best and Brightest
Panel Transcript: The Betrayal of America's Best and Brightest
Book: Sold Out
Date: Thursday, November 12, 2015, at 2pm
Location: National Press Club, 529 14th St, NW, 13th Floor, Washington, D.C.
A conservative columnist syndicated in more than 100 papers, Fox News commentator, and New York Times bestselling author. She is founder of Hot Air and Twitchy.com.
Former IT Engineer, Walt Disney World
A 20-year veteran of the IT field who until last year was an Information Technology Engineer for Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies
Attorney with 30 years of programming experience and founder of the Programmers’ Guild, an organization committed to advancing the interests of technical and professional workers. Miano is a fellow with the Center for Immigration Studies.
Mark Krikorian (Moderator)
Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
Transcript By Superior Transcriptions LLC
MARK KRIKORIAN: Good afternoon. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a think tank that examines all the various wrinkles and shadows of the immigration issue.
And one that has gotten a lot of attention in the media, even a fair amount of attention in the presidential debate, is this issue of immigration of skilled – so-called skilled workers, the H-1B visa and then various other aspects that relate to that. And so what we wanted to do was have an event on a book – in fact, probably the first mass-market book that I can think of, non-academic book, on this issue of skilled immigration and how our current policies are not really serving the national interest.
The book, as you may have heard, sold out, with the long subhead that has become quite de rigueur in policy books – (laughter) – co-authored by Michelle Malkin and John Miano. And just briefly let me introduce them, and then Michelle will speak first.
Michelle, most of you will have heard of, is a prominent conservative syndicated columnist, founder of Hot Air and Twitchy, both of which are actually quite successful ideas I wish I’d thought of anyway. Twitchy was a great idea, of curating Twitter. She’s written on immigration quite frequently in her columns, as well as a variety of other issues. But her first book was “Invasion: How America Still Welcomes Terrorists, Criminals, and Other Foreign Menaces,” which is specifically on immigration. She will speak first about the book.
And then her co-author will go last, John Miano. He’s a longtime IT worker who then became an attorney and is active in legal advocacy on this issue of skilled workers and immigration. He will go last.
The second speaker, though, after Michelle, is Leo Perrero, who will give us some real-world experience on this. He was one of the people fired last year from Walt Disney Company and replaced by foreign workers brought in under the H-1B program. Most of them have chosen to stay in the shadows and not tell their stories. Leo is one of the people who’s actually come out and is willing to talk about what his experience was. And so we’re very happy to have him as well and provide some kind of in-person experience that fleshes out and is, you know, complementary to the book.
So Michelle will go first, then Leo, then John. And then we’ll take some Q&A for as long as Michelle can stay with us.
MICHELLE MALKIN: Thank you, Mark. And we’d definitely like to thank the Center for Immigration Studies for hosting this event and drawing, hopefully, journalists who will turn around and cover these largely-untold stories of the impact these foreign guest-worker rackets are having on American workers.
And I think largely, in the course of my career in daily opinion journalism and then also in new media over the span of a quarter-century, the reluctance, the unwillingness, and the ideological opposition to covering the impact on American workers and American citizens of the vast plethora of immigration and entrance policies is probably one of the most alarming effects, I think, of the left-leaning media. And I think it speaks to a lot of problems in journalism in general. And much of the book is focused on trying to tell these stories in a riveting way – stories that, if they were on the – on the – if they served opposite narratives, would be on the front page every single day.
And as Mark mentioned, the first – the very first book I wrote, in 2002, was on the impact of mass uncontrolled illegal immigration on national security and public safety. And obviously, after all of the years, little has changed because just recently – earlier this year – it came to the forefront of political and policy debates. And now I think, with regard to the issues that we address in the book, John and I think that the timing of it couldn’t be more fortuitous or serendipitous, or maybe even providential, because it seems, after a lot of stops and starts and a cycle of ebb and flows – ebbs and flows, that we’re finally getting traction in telling these stories, stories like Leo’s.
And the book is divided into three sections, and the first section is on the H-1B racket itself. And it opens up with one of those rare occasions when an ordinary citizen was able to challenge a top political official – the commander in chief, Barack Obama. Her name was Jennifer Wedel. She was a suburban Texan mom and wife whose husband was laid off, who happened to be a top-of-the-line semiconductor engineer and was a victim in the same way that the victims at Disney and Southern California Edison and Fossil, and dozens and dozens and dozens of other companies in this country were. And she just happened to come upon a YouTube contest to submit videos to the president and ask him questions about jobs and the economy. And unlike so many of the mainstream journalists, you know, frustratingly, here in Washington and in the Manhattan bubble, she wanted to press him on a very personal case of what happened to her husband.
So we describe that whole scene. And it was interesting because when the Beltway press corps was forced to cover it because she made such a splash in the blunt way in which she confronted Barack Obama, it was clear that most of these journalists had no idea what she was talking about, just like President Obama. The myths that surround the way that the H-1B law actually works, the vast exceptions there are to the supposed non-displacement and recruitment requirements that the – that the tech lobbyists and all of their front groups and the politicians that carried their water regurgitate over and over again, even they – even though they know it flies in the face of the truth.
So when Beltway journalists actually confronted the White House press secretary on it, the tenor of the questions actually had nothing to do with the policy involved; it had to do with whether it was racist or not to bring the question up in the first place. And I – and I believe that this obstruction, this intellectual roadblock to examining the actual impact of these policies, is a result of this idea that scrutinizing the intent of the programs and comparing it to the actual results is somehow an indication that you are, you know, in bed with the worst xenophobes and nativists in the country. And we fully expect those kind of attacks because they happen every single day.
The second section of the book deals with the numerous ways in which the already-flimsy American worker protections that are in the – supposedly in the H-1B program are circumvented. And this is a theme that was central to “Invasion,” which is the systematic disrepair and inability of all of our federal agencies to actually do their jobs, enforce the laws and the rules of all these programs that are on the books, and the complete overwhelming of the bureaucratic machine – whether it’s the B-1 program, the F-1 foreign student program. And John will talk more about the optional practical training aspect of that as well, which is turning foreign student visa program, which is in essence supposed to serve our interests by bringing foreign students here, exposing them to our culture so that they can go back to their home countries and be goodwill ambassadors for the United States, has ended up morphing into a massive, endless, interminable pipeline for cheap foreign workers for these Silicon Valley companies and other companies in the country.
The L visa program, as well. And then we also talked about the EB-5 cash for citizenship program.
As I say, we really do feel like, in some sense, the timing is fortuitous because not only is there a growing awareness of so many of the root problems with these programs, but also I think that there is much more synergy with alternative forms of media and alternative forms of disseminating information to get the stories out of Americans who’ve been negatively affected by them.
And then, of course, you know, another theme of much of my work has been following the money. And so the third section of the book talks about a number of these front groups, which are quoted blindingly and without question by many open borders left-wing ideologues in the press without any kind of real understanding of how the numbers are crunched and how the data is cooked. In part, as I said, there’s apathy. In part, it’s ideology. And in part, I think, it’s a function – the failures of reporting in this area are a function of time crunches and 24/7 news cycles and a lack of time to digest it.
In large part what we are trying to do with “Sold Out” is accomplish an educational and in some sense an evangelical mission to get people to have a real deep enough understanding of what’s going on with these programs, and in order to be able to do the kind of follow-up questioning, particularly in a presidential election cycle, of these candidates’ claims or their silence on these issues. And even with the last debate with my friends at Fox Business Network, there’s been an admission of failure to follow up on some of these core issues.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Michelle.
Now Leo Perrero will tell us a little bit about one of these stories that’s not detailed in the book on the personal level, but is directly related to the kind of things that Michelle was just talking about. Leo?
LEO PERRERO: Yeah, sure.
Well, about a year ago I got an email in my inbox from Bob Iger that said that company profits were up about 15, 20 percent, I think, for the quarter, and that was a series of, gosh, I think six quarters – six or eight quarters, I believe, if I recall correctly. Shortly thereafter, about two weeks later, on the way into work I got a last-minute meeting request from an executive that I very rarely hear from, and so I was surprised about that. So I realized that I was kind of in some traffic and I had to make it in the office on time to meet this executive and to go to this meeting. I didn’t have a clue as to what it was about.
On the way in, another friend called me and I asked him, hey, do you know what this meeting is about? I figured that he might know because he was very well-connected within the company and he was very high-level as well. I figured that he could have some insight into what was going on there. He said, well, you’ve been doing such a great job and you got the highest possible performance review, so you’re probably going to get a meeting to have recognition given to you – maybe a bonus, or at least a pat on the back or some sort of a party of some sort. So on the way in I was very optimistic that this was going to be something fantastic.
As I finally get to the office and I go into the meeting room, I could tell that there was a sense of tension in the air. And the executive there really didn’t look too happy when we walked in. The people in this room were all very well-seasoned, experienced. Several of them actually had this blue Disney badge. If you’ve ever visited Disney, you notice that most people have white badges. But several of these people had blue badges, and the reason they had these is because they were Partners in Excellence, which means that they are the top performers as recognized by Disney for various reasons.
So when we get into the meeting, we are given a grim, harsh announcement that in 90 days our jobs are ending, and during this period we have 90 days to train our foreign replacements. The term used as a “managed service provider,” which is kind of corporate-speak for a foreign company that’s going to come in and take over what you’re doing. If we didn’t perform satisfactorily, then the bonus would be withdrawn and we wouldn’t get that.
So essentially running through my head at that point was I had the option of taking a bonus and unemployment benefits and health insurance and you know, those sorts of things for the next 90 days, or walk out at that moment and not train my foreign replacement. It was a feeling of really being unpatriotic. I felt like I was betraying my own country because I was selling myself out for money. I felt like a prostitute, in a sense, to be honest with you.
So we had 90 days to do this. The first 30 days we had to have someone sit next to us at our desk in our office and record everything that we did with both audio and video. So everything that I did was recorded on my screen and also recorded via audio. The next morning I was really surprised – gosh, I keep dropping this; excuse me – the next morning I was really surprised to see that everything that we went over that day was completely regurgitated and put in paper format. And so I got to see what I explained, and I was just amazed how that would happen so fast. So apparently maybe some people were working at night to do this.
The second 30-day period out of the 90 days was a period where the person that I was training started to work alongside me. So this person worked in parallel with me, and they started to pick up some of the things that I did. I could tell that these people were not experienced. They had nowhere near the skill or experience that any of us had. We were all kind of wondering if they were really going to be able to support the systems that we did, so you know, we were really concerned about that.
To take a step back, at the meeting with the executive we were told that new, exciting opportunities were going to be created with new jobs, and we would not be doing the repetitive and maybe duller work – that these new jobs that were being created would be more interesting. And so after a short period of time, we were all applying for these jobs, and really very few people were being interviewed. And in addition to that, only three or four people that I know of personally got a new job, and several of those people were in completely different fields – they were in HR or finance. Only one of those people was in IT.
So the training went on there, and I got to watch this person start to take over my job. So the last 90 days was a period where I was watching this person starting to do my job, and I was supposed to completely relinquish control and just make sure that this person was not going to cause serious problems to the systems that we’re supporting. So I really – although they weren’t doing all of the work that I did because they weren’t capable of that, because they weren’t as experienced or skilled, they did part of it, and I was supposed to completely step back and give them the reins entirely so that they could completely take over, and I was just there to make sure that nothing happened that would detriment the systems there. And if something did, I felt like I could be jeopardizing the bonus that I was being offered there.
So our last day was the point where we turned in our company laptops and badges, and we were ushered out the door. And the folks that stayed behind, from my perspective, I believe they’re probably doing a lot more work than they did when we were there because of the skill level of the people that came in from the foreign workforce.
So that’s my story in a nutshell. But the – before having gone through this, I’d been in the IT business for quite some time – since college, actually. I have a Bachelor’s degree in information technology and I have worked for IBM in the past, so I do have a lot of experience in the IT field.
The thing that shocked me the most was I didn’t know that it was possible to bring people into our country and physically replace us. That’s something that was entirely new to me. I’ve been completely familiar with offshoring, which is where somebody does your work, you know, from somewhere else in the world, and they do that through the Internet. But I had no idea that this was possible, and I couldn’t believe that it was possible. I’m just completely shocked that our lawmakers allow this to happen. And it was entirely new to me. I didn’t even know what the H-1B program was until probably months after I was displaced from Disney, so it was something that was entirely new to me. And I just can’t imagine that that’s possible.
So everybody that I tell the story to, whether it’s a hairdresser or my attorney, they’re all completely shocked that this is possible in our country. And I would say 98 percent of the people that hear it just cannot believe that this is going on in our country, and there are very few people that think that this makes any sense. The number of comments that have surfaced from the New York Times article and several others show a huge – everybody’s appalled when they hear the story, and they just can’t believe that it’s really happening here in our own country.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Leo.
JOHN MIANO: Well, I thought I would go and kind of give my own history, because I used to be a programmer. And I became of the H-1B program in 1994, when my next-door neighbor got the exact same thing that Leo’s describing at – you know, at Sea-Land, and other programmers in our area – we’re having a problem hearing?
MR. KRIKORIAN: No, go ahead.
MR. MIANO: Oh, OK.
MS. MALKIN: No, just Washington is. (Laughter.)
MR. MIANO: Oh, OK. That’s right. Oh, I’m sorry. (Laughter.)
Well, we had a – and also at AIG in my area, New Jersey, had also at the same time replaced 250 programmers. So that – so that right then, that was about 600 programmers losing their job in a small geographic area, and that has a big impact on your job market.
And like Leo, I was shocked. I mean, how is it legal for a company to replace Americans with foreign workers? I mean, I just thought that was against the law.
And at the time, AIG was boasting about how this was going to save all kinds of great money. And two years later, I actually was a computer consultant at AIG, and at that time they had actually gotten rid of all their H-1B replacements because it turned out, yeah, they were cheap, but they were completely incompetent. And you should have – I mean, you should have seen the mess that was created there, and it was costing them a fortune to clean up afterwards.
But the problem is that companies don’t talk about their messes, you know. They only talk about their success – what they think is their success. So stories like that never happened, so other companies go and do the same thing.
I also point out that around this time I actually wrote my first books, which were on computer programming. You know, so if you can go and dig in my books on image compression and learn how to reduce the discrete cosine transform into Gaussian normal form. (Laughter.) So that was the kind of stuff that I was – that was the kind of stuff I was doing.
And then I – then I was working at Dun & Bradstreet as a consultant and I was watching all of the Americans being replaced by foreign workers, just as it happened at AIG – although now I was seeing it firsthand as it happened. And in fact, we have a copy in the book of the memo Dun & Bradstreet’s CIO sent out to their employees to – asking them to cooperate as this is – as they are being replaced.
And also around this time came the first bill to expand the H-1B program. And this was an eye-opening experience for me because – it was H.R. 3736 from the 105th Congress. I can still remember that. The bill increased the number of H-1B workers but contained a provision to ban the replacement of Americans by foreign workers, like what we’re describing here. And I remember in the trade press reading, you know, industry lobbyists saying, over my dead body will this pass. They were saying that – the industry lobby was saying, if we can’t replace Americans with foreign workers, we don’t even want an expansion of H-1B.
And so the bill came out of the House Judiciary Committee with this – with this provision, so the industry gets more H-1B workers but they can’t replace Americans. And the Republican leadership in the House – the Newt Gingrich, ought to name names who was responsible for this – working with Senator Abraham, replaced the bill passed by the Judiciary Committee with one written by industry lobbyists. And the new bill was – went from 21 pages to 42 pages, and now it became explicitly legal to replace Americans with foreign workers.
So you know, when we’re sitting here now when, you know, cases like what Leo’s describing at Disney are becoming public, we hear all the politicians start saying, oh yeah, we need investigations; Marco Rubio in the debate saying, you know, we ought to have these protections in the bill. This isn’t by accident. Replacing Americans by foreign workers is a deliberate part of the H-1B program. The only thing that’s happening by accident is you folks in the media have suddenly started reporting on it, which hadn’t been going on for 20 years.
And so shortly thereafter, Michelle’s book came out. And I note it’s kind of interesting because Michelle’s book – my autographed copy congratulates me on getting into law school, because about this time I said, you know, it’s clear America doesn’t want Americans to be programmers. Our government wants us to – wants Americans to get out. And so I got – went to law school in the early part of this millennium.
And then, while I was in law school, Congress passed another bill, 2004, explicitly allowing employers to pay H-1B workers at the 17th percentile of U.S. wages – no longer even the prevailing wage, its’ now the 17th percentile. That’s the – that’s the H-1B program’s, quote, “prevailing wage.” So that comes out to about $20,000 a year less than what Americans do.
So replacing Americans with low – is by design from Congress. Paying them low wages is by design from Congress. So when you hear these complaints from Congress that we need to do something, it’s Congress that needs to do something and stop being beholden to the – to the industry lobbyists.
And the next chronological event I’ll come to is – came in 2008. That year, we ran into the H-1B quota problem, that Congress had passed three increases in – three increases to H-1B. By 2008 they were kind of getting tired of industry demands for more. So Microsoft proposed to the secretary of homeland security over a dinner party to use student visas as a substitute for H-1B visas. And DHS then went, in absolute secrecy created new regulations to extend the period of what they call OPT, which then allowed aliens to work for a year after graduation, to work for up to 27 to 35 months, depending on when they actually graduate. And DHS did this in complete secrecy and put these regulations in place without notice and comment.
So the first the public learned these regulations were even being considered was when they were put – when they were put in place. And that’s kind of been near and dear to my heart because I’ve been involved in litigation over the years, and we finally got them set aside with my legal buddies over there in August. But DHS’s response was to go put out new regulations to make the period that people could work on graduation even longer. And so I’ve been asked to mention that you can go to StopOverreach.com to get some ideas on how you can respond to public comments. They have to be submitted by Wednesday.
And then I would like to – next chronological thing, and I guess it was probably the last in my chronology here – maybe next to last – is the comprehensive immigration reform, which I find very frustrating, I mean, because I’m one of the 13 people on the planet who’s actually read the bill end to end. (Laughter.) And I’ve actually – in all the guest workers programs have actually pasted all the edits into the code to see what it actually does. And I can report back to you that there is no reform whatsoever in comprehensive immigration reform.
And I think it’s pretty – one of the ironies here is that, you know, we have the politicians – in particular Mr. Rubio is talking about how we ought to reform the H-1B program. But, Rubio, you wrote the bill, and where was this reform? It’s not there. You’re a cosponsor of the I-Squared Act that makes the – expands the H-1B program. Where are all these reforms? You should say.
So in essence, the history of the H-1B program has been give lobbyists everything they want and nothing that they don’t want.
Which then comes – and I’ll go to the final event to close here, of the – it is now the presidential campaign. And literally, we have reached the point in America where the majority of presidential candidates support replacing Americans with foreign workers. They’re so beholden to campaign cash and their big donors that they can’t – they’re a little incapable of independent thought.
Jeb Bush, for example, enthusiastically supports replacing Americans with foreign workers. Hillary Clinton has helped foreign companies replace Americans with foreign workers, setting up an offshoring site in New York. Marco Rubio, we’ve mentioned – I’ve mentioned a few times, wrote the bill to replace Americans with foreign workers and is cosponsoring another bill to replace Americans with foreign workers.
The only thing now that isn’t working right in the H-1B program is that you guys are reporting on it. And which is kind of ironic because the reason we wrote the book when we started this – now it’s like a year or two – when we started this, no one was reporting on it, and we were hoping that maybe we can get people to report on the H-1B abuse. Now we’re coming – the book has come out in the middle of when the H-1B abuse is starting to be reported.
So that’s my shtick.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, John.
I just had – since I’m paying for the microphone, I just had a couple of questions before we open it up to the audience.
For Leo, why – very few of the fired Disney people have come out of the shadows. And I can see the ones who maybe got tech jobs in Orlando would want to keep their heads down. But once they got their severance check and it cleared and it’s in the bank, you know, I would think more people would be willing to come out. And what I’m asking is, why did you decide to come out of the shadows?
MR. PERRERO: Well, what’s going on there is that there are fewer and fewer IT jobs out there every year. It’s musical chairs. Every year there’s fewer and fewer jobs, there’s fewer chairs there. So everybody’s jockeying for jobs.
There’s a general consensus among IT folks that if you speak out you’re going to get blacklisted from the industry. It’s a – it’s a tight-knit community. So if you’re willing to travel around the country, you’re going to be more apt to speak out. But even in that case, you might not be.
There are very few IT workers that are speaking out right now for that reason, because they don’t want to have any kind of a negative mark on their resume for the next job. So that’s one of the big reasons.
Also, where I live, Orlando, Disney is – Orlando’s known as Disney town. It’s the most-visited place on this planet. And Orlando is obviously the biggest employer there. So you have people that would like to get another job, and if the biggest employer there is Disney, naturally they’re not going to speak out. So those are a couple of reasons.
Now, me personally, it wasn’t until the point where I realized that I am tired of dodging bullets within this industry. There are outsourcings, offshoring, onshoring. This is all going on. And it’s not the – the opportunities within information technology are not there anymore. So at the point where I decided that I’m getting out of it entirely is when I felt comfortable that, you know what, more people need to know about this. And me as a citizen, I need to make sure that this doesn’t happen to other Americans. That’s why I’m here and that’s why I’m speaking out, finally.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Leo.
Questions from the audience? We have a microphone, so if you could identify yourself. Sir?
Q: Good afternoon. Neil McCabe, One America News.
I always sensed that there was some kind of connection between, you know, the student debt – you have all of these people graduating who have been told that this degree is going to make them earn so much more money, and that – but to pay off those debts they have – they need a higher salary to cover that. And so it’s like – so we – it’s almost like this meat grinder system where you get these people to borrow all this money, but then when it comes time to pay them to pay off this debt then the system decides, you know, we’re actually not going to pay you what you need to pay off that debt. And it – and it just seems like there are so many young Americans who don’t seem to realize, you know, that they’re the ones getting jammed in this situation. Maybe if you could speak to that, maybe Michelle could speak to that.
MS. MALKIN: John, you go first since you lived through it.
Q: Or, John, go ahead, please.
MS. MALKIN: And then I’ll follow up.
MR. MIANO: I’ll say one – you know, only half of Americans who graduate in technology fields are actually able to find a job in that. And our irony here is that, you know, Obama’s now proposed new regulations to make it easier for foreign workers to get – foreign graduates to get jobs. And one of the things I’ve noticed, you know, just as an observer – no longer really searching for – not searching for jobs in the industry – is that it’s very hard, as Leo was describing, to find jobs. If I just go out and search for computer jobs in my area, they’re not – just simply aren’t posted anymore because they’re largely – the jobs are being routed through these largely foreign outsourcing companies and consulting shops.
MS. MALKIN: I just have a sort of side note to that, because one of the things that we dug into, of course, was Bill Gates’ role in all of this, in propagating that giant myth that there is an American tech worker shortage. And this just happened to overlap in a lot of concentric circles with another public policy issue that I have been doing a lot of reporting on, and that is Common Core. And it’s very interesting because, of course, Common Core serves as a nice smokescreen, a nice vehicle to help perpetuate the American tech worker shortage myth because, of course, the underlying premise of these whole fed ed academic standards is, well, we’ve got to raise them, it’s an emergency, it’s a crisis, we don’t have enough trained young minds to fill these so-called STEM jobs. And so Common Core, which as so many of the independent educational experts who were in on the sausage-making behind the scenes here in D.C. on these standards can testify, it does the opposite of raising standards.
So what actually happens is that you’ve got Bill Gates pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a program that helps him not only perpetuate the current myth that there’s an American tech worker shortage, but if he succeeded – if he had succeeded without any kind of grassroots opposition in the Common Core scheme – would have actually helped manufacture a real crisis of undermining, particularly in math and science, standards that would basically produce inferior tech workers. So really just connecting the dots in all of the spending that Bill Gates does on both of those fronts is really important.
And again, from a journalistic standpoint, you’d think it was – it would be something that any kind of Bob Woodward- and Bernstein-inspired investigative journalist would do. But there are a few national journalists out there who have looked into the spending on that, but again, the dots were not connected between these two issues, and they’re inextricably linked.
MR. KRIKORIAN: And if I could just add, it’s ironic that we’re now in the National Press Club in the Bloomberg Room. (Laughter.) And Michael Bloomberg and his Partnership for a New American Economy is one of the people, along with Bill Gates and Mike – and Mark Zuckerberg, who are funding a lot of this importation of servile tech labor from abroad.
MS. MALKIN: And we – and we profiled NFAP and Bloomberg’s spending, and what we urge journalists to do is not just to take on face value these very patriotic-sounding front groups. Again, it takes a lot of time to digest.
I mean, we went back and forth on trying to – trying to come up with a mainstream way to explain regression analysis. And I’m married to an econometrician, so we got a little bit of help on that. But you know, when you hear all these claims about the H-1B programming – for every H-1B there’s going to be three or four or 10 or 100 miraculous new American jobs that are created – it takes more than, you know, two minutes of glancing at a press conference to understand how all of those numbers are – again, how the numbers are crunched and how the data is cooked. And we do try to explain that.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes, Neil?
Q: Hi. Neil Munro at Breitbart.
So for what it’s worth, I’ve been in the journalism business 25 years. I’ve covered a wide variety of subjects, including classified programs and science. This immigration area is the worst area for lying and complexities that I’ve ever come across. Just this week I discovered, wow, that’s great – meaning a great new story; it’s actually terrible.
But my immediate question for you is – Leo, is why do American professionals not organize for their self-interest? In this country, lots of subgroups organize rallies and events at the drop of a hat, but you guys are being hammered. Your wages are flat. The industry guys are openly saying we want to replace you. And yet, you don’t do anything. What’s up with that?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Well, it’s not his fault. But if you have any – (laughter) – if you have any thoughts, Leo, that would be –
MR. PERRERO: Well, I wish I had a good answer. Unionizing or that sort of thing just – I don’t think it’s in the kind of DNA and the nature of IT people usually. Typically, they are independent types. They are maybe, in a sense, a little bit entrepreneurial in a way. And for those reasons, I don’t know of anybody – I’ve had that same thought before. I thought, gosh, there’s no way they could run this if we all just walked out today. If we all just together, in one big pack, just got up and walked out, there’s no way that they would be able to do this.
But I think another part of that is that financial reasons. People are really financially strapped, and a lot of people unfortunately are paycheck to paycheck. And so, for that reason, they also wouldn’t want to risk anything.
So there’s a lot of different reasons, I think, for that. But I haven’t heard of one professional IT organization that would do such a thing. And there are unions at Disney in Orlando, but not any that would be IT-related that I’m aware of.
MR. KRIKORIAN: John, do you have any thoughts on that, since you organized the Programmers’ Guild?
MR. MIANO: Yeah. I’m actually surprised myself. I think the instinctive individuality is one reason. But the other reason I’ll give is I don’t think that programmers, like everyone else, are aware of the scope of the problem that’s going on here.
Because, you know, we have this like – you know, talk like Disney. You know, the industry lobbyists talk about this being an isolated incident. It’s only isolated that it’s made the press. I’ve been following this over the years, and if you read Computerworld, you’ll be seeing that this is just going on continuously.
MR. KRIKORIAN: One idea I had – we’ll get to your question in just a second – is, specifically relating to this – I’m not trying to give Donald Trump any advice on how to spend his money, but it seems to me it would have been a PR coup to tell all the workers at Disney when they were fired – you’d have to find out right then – that he would cover their entire severance package if they all walked out the next day. If I had billions of dollars, that’s something I’d definitely be doing. And I’d put the word out right there because it would have a – you know, you’d only have to do it a few times to get some real attention to people.
But yes, next question.
Q: Penny Starr with CNS News.
Just following up on the workers’ rights issue, because it seems like that’s something that’s not talked about. We’re talking about the rights of the foreign workers, of the companies who want to hire the foreign workers. But what protections do the American workers have, and is that being addressed? And also, is it only in IT that this is happening, or are there other industries where foreign workers are being brought in to replace people? Thank you.
MR. MIANO: It’s happening – hopefully I’ll get all your questions; there are a lot there. It’s happening in a lot of different industries. If you look at, like – if you look at H-1B, for example, it goes in everything, you know, even down to – down to massage therapists and that kind of thing. But it’s largely being used for computers. And I think that there are two reasons for that.
And one is that it tends to be at the higher – the higher end of the individual computer – individual contributor wage scale. That’s the first thing.
And also, I think there’s just a lot of mumbo-jumbo, that senior executives don’t really understand it. And I – and you – and it’s easy to make the – make the – it’s easy to make the sale to someone who doesn’t understand computers: oh, a(n) American programmer costs you $10 more an hour than an Indian programmer. That’s easier to explain than, oh, yeah, but you’re getting one-tenth the productivity. Why is – you know, why is that? They don’t – it’s a – it’s easier to sell this in the computer industry.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I just had a quick question, I guess for Michelle, to kind of put this into context. How do you see the problem – the basic problem here? Is it that the – you know, the rules are inadequate, or is it that we’re just taking too many foreign workers overall? In other words, is it a numbers issue, or just sort of a better management issue?
MS. MALKIN: Well, I think it’s both. And the question – just the logistical question of the federal government’s ability to process – and you look at the overall picture of who we’re letting in, who we’ve let in, who shouldn’t be here, and what kind of triage should be done in terms of immigration enforcement, we have 1 million green card holders coming into the country every year. And there was an analysis put out, I think by Jeff Sessions’ office, that by 2025 that’s going to reach some 10 million. That’s the population of seven of the largest cities in the country. That’s on top of all of the 11 to 30 million illegal aliens that we’re always hearing about. And the priority of so many of the open borders politicians on both sides of the aisle seems to be on them when we have backlogs out the wazoo to process the applications of people who came in here illegally.
And then there’s that false dichotomy in these debates, in these political debates, about, oh, I’m against illegal immigration, but I’m for legal immigration. And then you’ve got this whole big, huge, massive problem of the upwards of now – what is the H-1B stock? There’s 650,000 H-1B workers currently in the country, along with hundreds of thousands of F-1 students who are now converting through OPT, and thanks to this – both Bush and Obama, with their own sort of executive administrative expansions of those programs, turning into another cheap foreign worker pipeline. And then on top of that, all of the seasonal guest workers that we bring in – agriculture – agricultural and non-agricultural – and then all of the hundreds of thousands of J-1 visa holders who are all here. And then on top of that, as so many of us on this side of the aisle in terms of fixing our immigration chaos are always pointing out, we still have no entry/exit database system. So 40 percent of all of those people who are so-called in the shadows are here – 40, 45 percent now – here as visa overstayers.
So, yes, it’s a numbers problem. Yes, it’s an implementation problem. And it would seem to me that it is entirely reasonable and commonsensical to say, stop! Stop! Let’s catch our breath. Let’s take care of the problems that are already here. And, yes, if it discomfits the people who came in here illegally to know that they might possibly – might possibly, in some kind of new regime where enforcement is the first priority and putting American workers and citizens is the first priority – that, yes, they might possibly, if they are unlucky after 20, 25, 30 years of being here, not being caught, might possibly be caught up in some kind of net and asked to be sent home.
MR. MIANO: I have a follow up.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Sure.
MR. MIANO: Well, just – you know, something about the numbers is the – because reform of the H-1B program in lobbyist-speak means more visas without doing any reform. And because all these bills – whenever you hear H-1B reform, the bills they’re talking about don’t reform the program, other than to make it bigger. But one of the things we thought is the skill level. I mentioned the prevailing wage system. Under the H-1B program, there’s a skill-based prevailing wage system. Our employers can classify – the employers, the prevailing wage they have to pay is based upon the skill that they classify the work at, OK?
The employers classify half the workers at the lowest skill level, which commands a wage of the 17th percentile, OK? If you move up to the second classification, which commands a wage of the 34th percentile, still way below average, that’s 82 percent of all H-1B workers, OK? If you then add the – if you add the average in – average, you’re up to 94 percent. So only 6 percent of the H-1B workers, according to their employers, command a salary that’s above the –above average. And only 18 percent command a salary that’s average. So just by – if we just restricted the H-1B program to people who command an average skill, average-skilled workers, we wouldn’t even be coming close to reaching the quota.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yeah, good. Thanks. Another – yes, sir.
Q: Cliff Kincaid here with Accuracy in Media.
I have a two part question. The first one is for John and Leo. My youngest son’s a junior in high school. He’s president of the computer club. He loves IT, plays “Halo,” “Madden,” all this. He thinks there’s plenty of jobs out there and he’s just going to make big bucks when he gets out of high school and then goes through college. What do I say to him? What do I tell him?
The second question is for Michelle. You’ve always been outspoken. You’ve hinted earlier about the disappointment with your friends at Fox Business, no follow-up during the debate on this particular issue. You’re a Fox News contributor. What do you saw to the Fox News people who are Rupert Murdoch’s hip pocket? Have you been booked on Hannity, O’Reilly? Have you been booked to talk about your new book?
MS. MALKIN: I’ll let them answer first and then I’ll answer it.
MR. PERRERO: Well, that’s a tough question. Personally, I don’t recommend it to new students. If you have a passion for it and you love it, I’m always the person who says go after it and do it. But the fact of the matter is, out of this book, is that half of new IT hires are foreign guest workers. So if you consider that fact, you’re – there’s a 50/50 chance that job is going to go to you or to a foreign worker. That is a tough ratio to follow up on. I mean, any other field you’re probably not going to run into that situation. So I hope that maybe your son has some other passions and things that he loves. But me personally, I don’t recommend it.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Maybe he can go into farm work. There might be fewer immigrants in that. Anyway. (Laughter.)
MR. MIANO: Well, maybe – I mean, have his use his math skills to work on Wall Street, you know, moving money around.
Q: My daughter’s in engineering school up at Rensselaer. And I suggest that your son go to StopOverreach.com and make a comment on the government regs for that three-year extension on OPT and that might help a little bit.
MR. MIANO: (Laughs.) Second mention. (Laughs.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: Go ahead, Michelle.
MS. MALKIN: Yeah. I was a Fox News contributor for 13 years. And I still have cordial relations with a lot of my former colleagues. And I’ve been on Fox all week. I’ll be going on tonight again. And we’re actually trying to take it to every media forum or public forum that we can. I was on CNN for the first time last night, and there was no blood drawn. (Laughs.)
But, you know, we’re very clear about our distress with a lot of the Silicon Valley CEOs, big tech companies, and media moguls. We already mentioned Michael Bloomberg. And there are many references to Rupert Murdoch in the book. And I think that there’s room for disagreement among friends. The New York Post ran a huge excerpt of the introduction of our book last Sunday before our official launch. And I appreciate all of that.
What I will say, though, is that I think it’s a disgrace that there are many not only fine journalists but also fine public policy researchers and other individuals who take the same positions that we do, or other supposedly controversial or unorthodox positions in favor of American workers and American citizens and immigration policy, who have been blacklisted and blackballed and relegated to the margins somehow.
And I think it’s of a piece – I think it’s a little bit poetic and the timing is interesting as well, that at the same time that we’re coming out with this book and saying the things that we’re saying that you have this chaos on free-speech-squelching college campuses with the tolerance mob and the diversity mob, who act as enforcers of the limits of what any debate should be, whether it’s – whether it’s on immigration, or race, or anything else.
And to the extent that, you know, I can use the platform that I’ve built over these last couple of decades in both old and new media to help make sure that we’re in the mainstream and that the real radicals are pushed to the – pushed to the margins, and that it becomes a safe space for journalists to be able to ask these questions and provide dissenting viewpoints and tell the stories of these American workers without them having to becoming victims twice.
You know, we were talking about why is it that more of these fired workers don’t come out of the woodworks? Well, jeez, look at the witch hunts. Look at the dumpster-diving that goes on, you know, from my perspective, of anyone who’s on my side of the political aisle who voluntarily chooses to become a public figure. If I were a tech worker who were fired, I would not want to have to go through that kind of, you know, national security-level style clearance and questioning and vetting, let alone subject my family to it.
MR. MIANO: Yeah, I don’t –
MR. KRIKORIAN: Sorry, Leo.
MR. MIANO: I would say at this point, I don’t expect ABC News to be covering this book – (laughter) – with the Disney story.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Oh, well, there we go. We have a couple more questions? Yes? Oh, OK, and then after them. Yeah, here. Francis, right there.
Q: Hello. I’m Francis Cissna, and I work with the Office of Senator Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee. (Applause.)
And I just wanted to – it’s more of a comment than a question. Legislation was dropped on Tuesday that addresses this whole nightmare. Senator Grassley and Senator Durbin have been fighting for years on this subject. And we have introduced a bill. I think the number’s S. 2266. It finally got a number. And it reproduces many of the elements of prior bills that Senators Grassley and Durbin introduced on this subject and it adds many new ones as well, principally provisions that address the replacement of U.S. workers. That is interdict. We address numerous other elements of monkey business and shenanigans in this program that we think ought to stop.
The primary reform of the bill is it requires the employers to hire an American first if there is an American who’s available and eligible to do the job. That is the starting point of the whole legislation. Everything else that follows is extra. Anyway, I just wanted to say that. It’s S. 2266. And thank you to all the panel for coming and spreading the word on this important message.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you.
MR. MIANO: And thank you to Senator Grassley from the bottom of our heart.
MR. PERRERO: Yes, absolutely.
Q: I’m David North. I work for the Center for Immigration Studies. And Mark does not know what I’m about to say. (Laughter.)
One of the things that one can do and I have done on a very small scale vis-à-vis the Disney thing is to simply sell the stock short and hope you make some money on it. (Laughter.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: Next question, in the back.
Q: I’m Paul Donnelly.
Turns out I’m in the book. I am a crapweasal, evidently.
MS. MALKIN: Yes, you are. (Laughter.)
Q: For Neil (sp) –
MR. MIANO: Is he in the book?
MR. KRIKORIAN: Yes.
MR. MIANO: Oh, OK.
Q: For Neil (sp) I represent the largest organization of tech workers in America. For Michelle, when you mentioned illegal immigration and when you mentioned the check-in, check-out system, I was the communications director of the Jordan Commission, which proposed both of those. So this isn’t quite as simple as people think, and yet it is actually much simpler.
The H-1B program does exactly two things, and only two things: it subsidizes outsourcers and it delays green cards. That’s it. The IEEE-USA, which is the largest organization of tech workers in the country, wants green cards, not guest worker visas. But in every one of the legislative debates that has been mentioned here, I was part of it. I was in the room when they did the 1996 Act. I helped in a very small way to pass the 1990 Act, which created the structure of the H-1B.
What I’d like to hear the panel address is how you guys, the restrictionist side of the equation, contribute to the failure to protect American workers with market forces. The H-1B is nothing but an elaborate set of rules on a labor market. It never works, ever. Like I say, it subsidizes outsourcers and it delays green cards. But because you also oppose more green cards delivered faster, you enable the people who want the subsidy to say we’re the pro-immigration guys and they get more guest worker visas instead.
MR. KRIKORIAN: OK, let’s let them respond.
MS. MALKIN: Go ahead, John.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Does anybody have – I have some thoughts on that myself.
MR. MIANO: Well, actually I think we – didn’t we at the end describe how we would reform the green card system. And I know that I’ve written about this for Center for Immigration Studies. I think the green card system needs a complete overhaul. And one of the things that, for example, I’ve written about has suggested that we have clear paths into the United States where you either come to the United States as an immigrant, or a non-immigrant, as it used to be under the original 1952 act, so that we don’t have a system where you come here on a – on an H-1B visa which has a – essentially is wide open, and then can get into the higher threshold green card system. Any engineer would tell you that’s just opening you up to a backlog. That’s one of the reforms.
Second thing I’ve suggested is we eliminate queuing on the green card system, that the system should make a decision on a green card within some fairly short period of time based upon some criteria that says, OK, you make your application, here it is, sorry, these are the limits, we can’t give you a green card. Maybe you can apply again in five years. Under the current system, we say, oh, we can’t have a green card. Get in line and wait for, in the case of India, it’s now – I think it’s to 2004, so that’s 13 years. However, on the other hand, the queuing outside of India, China, the Philippines and Mexico doesn’t really exist. The backlog for green cards for any other country is only to September, I believe, right now of this year. So I think it’s, like, a two- or three-month wait.
MR. KRIKORIAN: Michelle, do you have thoughts on that?
MS. MALKIN: Yeah. And so we do outline rather extensively and in detail what we would do, and eliminating the concept of dual intent is important to that. But then there’s sort of a larger – there’s a larger point to your question, which I think is going to come up again and again, particularly when people on the right are arguing among each other about what the proper way is to bring in people who have skills that we want. And among, I think, some of the libertarian advocacy groups is the idea that – is the false idea that most of these H-1Bs are among the best and brightest. And we pretty much put to rest that point.
There already is an O visa. And I suppose your argument there would be that there, again, it’s not being administered fast enough, or that these are not being –
Q: (Off mic) – temporary visas. I’m talking about green cards.
MS. MALKIN: Yes. But what I’m saying is, for this – for this idea that somehow we need this pipeline now, now, now, now, now, I still think that my larger point about slowing everything down and processing what we already have is not somehow anathema to the free market. We have a country. Every country is sovereign. And I think that – I mean, it’s fairly clear that the Constitution doesn’t provide that we have a country to allow every willing worker in the world for $1.21 to come in. I mean, no country has adopted that kind of policy and long survived.
MR. KRIKORIAN: We can have one brief, quick question, and then we have to go. Yes.
Q: Thanks. I’m Rachel Stoltzfoos with The Daily Caller.
My question is, is there really a need for a guest worker program? As long as companies can bring in somebody temporarily to – even if there is a shortage. Let’s say there is a shortage of tech workers. If companies can just bring in outside workers, then how will the market correct itself? How will wages go up?
MR. MIANO: Well, I would say, I think if we did an analysis – a real analysis – what is the need of American for bringing in tech workers for two, three – two or three years, and then sending them home at the end? – I would wager that it probably doesn’t exist at all. The only reason we have that, to add another purpose of the H-1B program, is to generate fees for lawyers, that, you know, we’ve essentially created the business of immigration lawyers over the past few decades. So my guess is that if we sit there, said you can only come here – you have the choice when you make an application – you can either come here for permanent residency or you come for the guest worker program. My guess is there’s probably not much need for tech workers to come here on a temporary basis.
And also, and we were talking about some of the reforms. Another reform that I had also proposed is eliminating employer-sponsored visas altogether, in that if you want to come here as an immigrant you sponsor yourself. And having a job is a criteria that helps get you higher up on the list, but the immigrant controls his admission, not the employer and not the employer’s immigration lawyer, who wants to drag the process out to get as much fees as possible.
MR. KRIKORIAN: I mean, I think that’s the key question, really, is how does employment-based, sort of job-based immigration actually fix the problem? James Taranto from The Wall Street Journal has something he calls the Fox Butterfield effect. Fox Butterfield was a reporter. He said once – he wrote a story that said: Despite increase in incarceration, crime declines. (Laughter.) Well, I mean, it’s a similar thing here. Employers are bringing in guest workers and then saying, wow, we can’t find any people so we have to have more guest workers in order to tide us over until we can fix the problem of not enough Americans working in these fields. Well, there actually – it’s contributing to it. I mean, it’s a version of that. So that, I think, is the – gets to the core of this whole idea of employment immigration.
Did anybody have any last few words?
MS. MALKIN: Yeah, just and that proposal comes and is co-signed by someone who is a daughter of a – of someone who came here on an employer-sponsored visa, which raises another question too. You know, somehow, you know, it’s hypocritical or it’s, you know, throwing other immigrants under the bus for children or grandchildren of immigrants to rethink how our system works. And you know, when my dad came here 45 years ago, it was, you know, a much different situation. And so there always should be room to rethink these policies based on consequences of them, particularly the H-1B program after 25 years.
That was another sort of serendipitous piece of timing that the book comes out in the same month that we are marking the 25th anniversary of H-1B. So it’s, you know, really heartening to hear not only that Senator Grassley and Senator Durbin are putting forth their proposal, but that also this week we’re finally hearing some new noises from two of the presidential candidates who had been wholeheartedly for tripling or even quintupling H-1B visas – both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. So I think that’s a testament to the willingness of workers like Leo Perrero to come out and speak, the few journalists that are out there that are covering it, that understand it. And hopefully, you know, hashtag #soldouteffect as well. (Laughter.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Michelle. Hashtag #soldout for those on Twitter.
MS. MALKIN: StopOverreach.com. (Laughter.)
MR. KRIKORIAN: It’s on Amazon, “Sold Out,” co-authored by Michelle Malkin and John Miano. Thanks to John and Michelle, and also to Leo for coming up to share his story with us. Thanks all of you for coming, and we’ll see you next time. (Applause.)