What Will It Take to Get Congress to Clean Up the H-1B Program?

By John Miano on March 19, 2012

I have been following the H-1B issue for nearly two decades now. The most striking thing I have learned is how Congress dances to big money and has become powerless to act in the public good.

The first government H-1B audit came out in 1996.

But still, every six months the Department of Labor's inspector general cries out in vain to a Congress that is deaf to all sounds other than the rattle of campaign cash from lobbyists, as Acting Inspector General Daniel R. Petrole did in the department's most recent semi-annual report:

If DOL is to have a meaningful role in the H-1B specialty occupations foreign labor certification process, it must have the statutory authority to ensure the integrity of that process, including the ability to verify the accuracy of information provided on labor condition applications. Currently, DOL is statutorily required to certify H-1B applications unless it determines them to be "incomplete or obviously inaccurate." Our concern with the Department's limited ability to ensure the integrity of the certification process is heightened by the results of OIG investigations that show the program is susceptible to significant fraud and abuse.

In the 22 years of the H-1B program's existence, Congress has done absolutely nothing to clean up H-1B abuse. In fact, Congress has done worse than absolutely nothing — it has created more loopholes and put in place complex do-nothing reforms that give the superficial appearance of acting, but that are carefully designed to allow Congress' money masters to continue to abuse the system with impunity.

So what would it take for Congress to act on H-1B abuse?

There was I time when I thought H-1B abuse taken to the extreme might wake Congress up; something like an employer using the H-1B program to import teenage girls as sex slaves.

But that already happened — and Congress's response was to make the program bigger and create more loopholes.

It's sad that even the death of a teenage sex slave imported using an H-1B visa is not enough to get Congress to clean up the H-1B program.