The H-1B visa program, the largest U.S. foreign worker program, was created to provide temporary workers for employers unable to find American or green card workers for a specialty occupation, like computers, engineering, science, and technology. Over time the program has been abused by employers who are not experiencing labor shortages and by outsourcing firms.
The result has been the displacement of Americans workers and the exploitation of H-1B workers. There are, however, reforms that can bring the visa program back in line with its original design of being temporary and limited to high-skill occupations where there are no Americans or green card holders qualified for employment.
On this week’s episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, host of the podcast and Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian is joined by Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Tech Workers, and David North, a Center fellow. They discuss the historical changes of the H-1B program, the impact on wages, working conditions, and offshoring, and the fact it is rarely temporary and the workers are rarely “the best and brightest”.
In his closing commentary, Krikorian highlights the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which is the subject of an ongoing, years-long lawsuit. OPT is a feeder into the H-1B program, allowing foreign college grads to pretend they are still students, and to work for up to three years after graduation if they studied in a STEM field. This program is also subsidized by U.S. taxpayers, since the employers do not have to pay payroll taxes for Social Security, Medicare, and the federal unemployment insurance programs because the workers are still considered “students”.
Mark Krikorian is the Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Kevin Lynn is the founder of U.S. Tech Workers.
David North is a Fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies
Voices in the opening montage:
- Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
- Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
- President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
- Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
- Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
- Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
- Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
- Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
- Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
- Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".