A related immigration issue that has a negative impact on jobs and wages is the abuse of the guest worker program. In case you think a guest worker program is just for allowing temporary, seasonal guest workers in to pick lettuce, think again.
Listed below are some of the jobs that H-1B visas are being issued for
- Accountants and Administrators
- Executives, Managers, Administrators
- Programmers and computer scientists
- Various engineers and Technicians
- Research Associates and Scientists
- Lawyers and Tax Analysts
- Teachers and college professors
- Postdocs and Fellows
- Sports Instructors and Physiologists
- Doctors, Nurses, Med-Techs, Therapists
- Surgical and Dental Assistants
- Fashion models, Secretaries, Clerks
- Architects, Musicians, and Artists
- Youth Counselors, Day Care, and Cashiers
Do those look like jobs that "Americans won't do?"
Besides a legitimate guest worker program for the seasonal agriculture industry, American companies and universities are allowed to import "temporary" workers for all sorts of jobs that they need workers for. The main reason given is that there are no workers available but usually it is that there are no workers available at the lower wage rates desired by the employer.
Does that sound familiar? In any case, the program has no serious safeguards to protect American workers from being replaced and is often abused to simply provide cheap foreign labor to increase bottom line profits.
The Immigration act of 1990 established an annual quota of H1B visas to allow the best and brightest workers in where there are legitimate shortages in the US workforce. In a capitalistic society, supply and demand takes care of shortages and surplus – in a much more efficient way than government programs could ever do.
In March 2003, the American Engineering Association reported that the US high tech sector lost 560,000 jobs between January 2001 and December 2002. While this corresponded with the dot-com bust, it is worthwhile to note that during the same period companies sponsored more H1B and other "temporary" visas than the numbers of jobs lost. Obviously, there could not have been a shortage but employers simply wanted cheaper labor.
In 2001 it was reported that 9 out of every 10 new job openings for computer/IT were taken by temporary workers on H-1Bs. In 2002 the INS issued 312,000 visas.
More and more frequently, companies are using the program as part of their job outsourcing plans where the foreign worker is brought in and trained by the American worker. Only when the foreign worker goes home the job goes with him and the American worker is then laid off.
For information on how extensive and growing the outsourcing of American jobs to foreign workers is becoming, see a Counter Punch special report by Craig Roberts, The New Face of Class War, where it is reported that even the upward mobility of middle class jobs is being dismantled.
For more information on the abuse of the guest worker program, see: H1B and Who is America For? This is something to keep in mind when the politicians talk about expanding the "guest worker program." What they may actually have in mind is allowing your employer to replace YOU with a cheaper foreign worker.