Two Senior Democratic Women Tangle over H-1Bs Replacing U.S. Workers

By David North, November 16, 2016

Two senior Democratic politicians, both lawyers, both women, both with Santa Clara (Calif.) University degrees, and both routinely supportive of foreign worker programs, are currently at odds over the layoffs of 80 U.S. resident IT workers so that they can be replaced by less expensive H-1B workers, presumably from Asia.

In one corner we have Janet Napolitano, head of the massive University of California system, and long-time defender of the H-1B program in her role as the first of Obama's secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security. One of her universities, the University of California at San Francisco will, according to the local press, lay off about 80 resident information technology workers who are currently training their H-1B replacements. The attraction of the latter to UC-SF is the lower wages that they will receive.

In the other corner there is Zoe Lofgren, a senior member of Congress from Silicon Valley, a one-time immigration lawyer, and long the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives' immigration subcommittee. Although Lofgren has been largely supportive of the H-1B program in the past, she is reported to have written to Napolitano saying that the action of UC-SF, in this case, was a misuse of the visa, and "raises serious public policy concerns."

As I reconstruct their resumes, it appears the Napolitano was a freshman at Santa Clara in 1974-1975, while Lofgren was in her last year of law school. Chances are they did not know each other then, but in more recent years Lofgren has been in the position of asking Napolitano questions (generally friendly ones) at immigration subcommittee hearings.

As is often the case in the immigration field, ironies abound.