The second half of 2022 has not been kind to tech workers in Silicon Valley. By now, it's no longer news that rising interest rates, inflation, and gloomy economic forecasts are causing many U.S. tech companies to implement massive layoffs. Amazon and Meta, Facebook's parent company, are two of the most recent companies to announce plans to let go tens of thousands of workers, following big layoffs at other major American tech companies in recent weeks, including Salesforce, Twitter, and Google.
Troublingly, nearly all of these companies are major users of foreign work visas, including the H-1B visa. Amazon currently ranks first in the number of H-1B visa approvals. Meta, which is also a top H-1B employer, is listed by the U.S. government as an H-1B dependent employer, meaning at least 15 percent of its workforce are H-1B visa holders (this percentage must be higher for smaller companies). And that doesn't even include other foreign workers, such those in the Optional Practical Training program, a legally questionable arrangement which lets foreign students stay and work for years after graduating. As my colleague David North reported, while there is evidence that most of these layoffs have involved both U.S. and foreign workers, the exact mix of those two work forces are unknown.
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However, companies that are laying off a sizable percentage of their staff cannot in good faith claim to need large numbers of temporary foreign workers. This is especially true in the tech industry, where data shows that more than a third of American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math ("STEM") do not obtain employment in a STEM field after graduation. . . .