Public Comment on DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0014 (Proposed H-1B Regulations)

By David North on April 29, 2011

DHS Docket No. USCIS-2008-0014 (Proposed H-1B Regulations)

Background

This is a proposed "streamlining" of an aspect of this foreign worker program, H-1B, that would come into play after the Congressionally-mandated ceilings of 65,000 and 20,000 new visas are exhausted under this program. It would allow would-be employers to place in priority order the foreign workers they wanted though this program if their applications were among those that reached and exceeded the ceilings. In former years a lottery had been conducted among the names of the wanted workers, which gave the employers some of the workers they wanted, but not in the order that they wanted them. No employer was ever saddled with a foreign worker the employer did NOT want.

The new system would allow employers to place their own priority lists into the system, and would prevent the employers from having to file applications for workers beyond the number of workers it would be allocated should the ceiling be reached.

My comments are made on behalf of the Center for Immigration Studies, a non-partisan, non-profit, Washington-based research organization that pays attention to the impact of immigration on American life.

Comments

This proposal is bad public policy for several reasons.

  1. The H-1B program, over the years, has probably brought a total of some 650,000 largely un-needed foreign workers into American high tech jobs, and thus has shouldered aside resident workers (both citizens and green cards) from these jobs. The workers thus shed tend to be older ones (defined as those over the age of 35). The program has also allowed employers to pay less for these high-tech workers than they would have had to pay in a free market.

    This act of "streamlining" thus makes the program more popular among certain corporations which, in turn, denies jobs to more Americans.

    The program should not be implemented.

  2. Bringing this proposal into being was a totally inappropriate way to use federal money, and the time of USCIS and White House staff. The change in the rules were announced by the White House, a totally needless expense giving the extensive press operations of USCIS.

    The White House involvement, one must concede, was pretty minimal; the official introducing USCIS Director Mayorkas mispronounced his name the first time she used it, so she had apparently not spent much time on the issue.

    The proposal involves not only either the invention of, or the purchase of, a complex lottery system, it involved extensive managerial and pr staff time, and extensive notices in the Federal Register (17 pages worth) and elsewhere. Whoever is reading this comment is using federal money to pay for his or her time to read about this proposal.

  3. One is invited to comment on the economic consequences of this proposal; they are trivial and not worth a fraction of the federal resouces involved.

    There will be a transfer of some private funds, as a result of the adoption of this proposal. The flow will be from a well-paid part of the Establishment to an even richer part of the Establishment, and will thus expand the gap between the rich and the poor.

    The "savings" trumpeted by Mr. Mayorkas will be for the foreign-worker-exploiting corporations that use the program, and at the expense of the not-quite-so-affluent immigration lawyers of America. This will occur because fewer applications will be comleted by the lawyers.

    As previously noted NO benefits will flow to America's army of unemployed, including many high-tech workers.

  4. A minor reason for not implementing the proposal is that it is designed to benefit the lazier and less far-sighted of the exploitative employers using the program, in other words, to benefit the worst of the worst. An employer with a bit of foresight will file an H-1B application early in the season, and will not be caught up in the problems of the ceiling.

No other commentator, I am sure, will mention this variable, which should be an obvious one. The current system rewards employers who are prompt in their filings, and punishes those who are laggardly -- just like the rest of life.

In conclusion this is a way of polishing, slightly, a disastrous program, all for the benefit of the laggards among the employers; it should not be implemented.