Looks like the fix is in again:
U.S. employers keep roughly 600,000 foreign H-1B visa workers in jobs throughout the United States, according to an unprecedented report released by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.
The total number of resident H-1B workers has successfully been kept secret for decades, mainly because Fortune 500 companies do not want voters to recognize the massive outsourcing of jobs for themselves and their college graduate children.
Based on personal observation, I think that about a quarter of the above number live within a square mile of my apartment, but that’s a topic for another time.
Whenever people show faith in the powers of “the market”, I want to kick them in the balls. Here’s why.
In the normal course of events, “the market” can and should address the problem of shortages by creating a price increase — in this case, if there are apparently not enough Americans to fill the skilled positions needed in Corporate America, the pressure is put on salaries so that existing skilled workers can change industries to take advantage of the higher wages, or (in the longer term) prospective employees can adjust their training from, say, a university-centric Women’s Studies major into an IT profession.
But that would Cost The Companies Money; and gawd forbid that costs rise, affect the balance sheet and, most importantly of all, jeopardize executive management bonuses. So said companies lobby the government saying, “Oh we need skilled workers, and these lazy idle Murkins don’t wanna do the jobs so please pretty please O Benificent Government, can we import furriners to save us from going out of business?”
Whereupon Congress, whose members are all either stupid, unpatriotic or else beholden to Corporate America for campaign contributions (I know: massive overlap) will turn around and say, “Sure thing. Get these H-1Bs from anywhere you like — say, India or China — and just add a zero to your next contribution, will you?”
The fact that these foreign workers stay a while then go back to their home countries taking their expertise with them, is, of course, irrelevant. (I should point out that I myself was one of the above H-1B workers back in the 1980s, except that I had skills which my sponsoring company did not possess at all, AND I was coming over as a senior executive to implement a brand new business model which I had created back in the Old Country and made successful. Also, I stayed and became a U.S. citizen, and the rest you know.)
So “the market” works fine, mostly — except where the sticky and incompetent fingers of Gummint get placed firmly on the scale of surplus : scarcity, and the results are what we see now.
There’s another part of the article which engendered a scowl from me:
The USCIS report admits that “no unique identifier exists for all H-1B petitions in the USCIS electronic [system of record, so] we use a methodology of statistical inference.”
For those not familiar with bureaucrat-speak, “statistical inference” means “we took a wild-ass guess”. Or, to be more polite:
For years, [DHS] has deliberately not stored [visa worker] information into their databases. They only enter selected information into the computers. That was deliberate so that no one could know what is going on. We have sent in all kinds of [Freedom of Information Act] requests, and often the response is “we don’t keep track of that.”
And to make matters still worse:
“Close to a quarter of the records — dealing with workers who often make $100,000 a year or more — there is no Social Security number.”
In other words, we let them in, and allow a situation where people don’t necessarily have to pay taxes. How charming. But it gets worse (and I’ve added emphasis):
The failure to track legitimate H-1B documents and workers — or to punish groups for using fake H-1B documents — is routine. For many years, business advocates have kept legislators in the dark by splitting and subdividing oversight of the visa-worker economy between the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Labor, he said.
This fragmentation has helped to minimize awareness of the scale among journalists and the public. For example, very few reporters describe the scale of the H-1B population to their readers, and most rely on talking points from business advocates who say the program brings in 65,000 or 85,000 “high skilled” workers each year when companies cannot find U.S. workers.
In reality, up to 85,000 H-1B visas are given out to companies each year, while roughly 15,000 are provided to non-profit groups, including hospitals, research centers, government agencies, and hospitals.
Now let’s add a little “China is asshole” to the mix:
The new USCIS report does not estimate the number of fake H-1B documents in circulation despite myriad cases of fraudulent work permits and made-in-China green cards.
And in India, procurement of green cards is an entire industry, catering to U.S. corporations — I’ve seen it in action at first hand.
Several years back, I posited the situation where if one won a large foreign lottery (e.g. Euromillions), whether it would be better to bring the earnings back to the U.S. and pay the 40% tax, or just to vanish into a European tax haven like Monaco with the (untaxed) millions. My conclusion was that I wouldn’t do that, because I am of course a loyal American citizen. As I read stuff like the above, however, I’m starting to think that “loyal American citizen” is rapidly approaching the status of “sucker”.
Change my mind.