Who Decides to Hire Foreign Workers or Domestic ones? H-1B and MLB

By David North on July 5, 2022

Once upon a time, a native-born citizen businessman, or a citizen farmer in Texas, or a citizen Major League baseball manager made the decision as to who to hire, a fellow citizen (or many of them) or an alien (or many of them).

That still happens frequently, but to a large (and largely unexplored) extent those decisions are now made by foreign-born managers and sometimes by other nonimmigrant workers. It involves the institutionalization of foreign-worker programs, where foreign workers or ex-foreign workers hire other foreign workers. The potential problem of bias is obvious.

This is more true in the H-1B (high-skilled) worker program than anywhere else; in many, many cases the employer is a non-American company, usually based in South India, which hires other Indians, routinely other Hindu, young, male workers of the appropriate caste from guess where? South India. So a distant U.S. citizen business simply farms out much of its work to a South Indian corporation, whose South Indian managers hire other South Indians.

Citizen friends of mine in the high-tech business tell me that whenever they seek a new job they inevitably deal with Indian HR people, many with accents, and some, they suspect, calling from India. This is, of course, anecdotal evidence, at best. But when you check the “contact” person on the list of the five biggest H-1B users in the United States according to the Myvisajobs website, you get these names: Sabarish Chandraskaran, Luka Poultron, Amit Jindal, a jumble of names for Google, and Sunday Rubenstein, who appears to be a citizen. The five firms are: Cognizant, Infosys, Tata, Google, and Ernest & Young

Now, as the All-Star Game looms (on July 19) it appears that something similar may be starting to happen in Major League Baseball as it starts to hire many coaches and some managers from the Dominican Republic. It has long used Dominican players in both the minor and the major leagues. As a matter of fact, a Dominican has a much better chance to play in the majors than a citizen does.

The math on this point is public, but never expressed. The U.S. has a population of 332 million; of the 975 MLB players on April 7 of this year, 717 were from the States. The population of the Dominican Republic is about 11 million and of these 99 play in the majors. So an American has one chance in 463,000 to be in the majors, while a resident of the Dominican Republic has one chance in about 111,000 to do so. That means that a Dominican has a four times better chance to make the big leagues than an American does, all thanks to our immigration policy.

One of the reasons for this pronounced tilt is that there are few opportunities for really good jobs in the Dominican Republic, and the nation and its young citizens have devoted a lot of energy and money to get their youngsters into professional baseball.

Another reason is that U.S. immigration law has been carefully written to give MLB everything it could possibly ask; it is easy to get large numbers of foreign players into professional ball, and USCIS is going to the trouble of explaining all of this in a “virtual stakeholder engagement” on August 3 to help ease the process, an operation of marginal utility in my eyes. It deals with the rarely discussed O and P visas for athletes.

Dominicans play a less dominant role in baseball than Indians do in American high-tech at the moment, and that may relate in part to a non-Dominican dominance in making MLB hiring decisions. A review of today’s current list of MLB managers shows no Dominicans among the 30 of them, although Manuel Elias Acta served as manager of both the Washington Nationals and the Cleveland Indians, and Felipe Rojas Alou did the same for the former Montreal Expos and the San Francisco Giants. Other Dominicans once serving as managers include Tony Pena of the KC Royals. I could not find a comprehensive list of Dominican MLB managers.

With many Dominicans serving as minor league managers and in various coaching positions in the majors, their participation in the teams’ management may well increase in the future.