Big Tech Puts Americans First … On The Chopping Block
As a contracting tech industry freezes hiring and lays off workers, the question becomes: Who will be hit hardest – Americans or H-1B visa holders?
Breitbart News reported this week that Twitter and other tech companies “are firing thousands of U.S. employees, but are keeping thousands of cheap temporary workers who have been imported from India and China.”
Exact breakdowns have not been tallied, but U.S. Techworkers, a group that advocates for American employees, says there are incentives for companies to put U.S. workers first … on the firing line.
“If H-1B workers are fired, those workers have to leave the country and the employer must pay their way back home. They cannot be temporarily benched, and they do not get unemployment benefits,” Kevin Lynn, founder of U.S. Techworkers, told FAIR on Tuesday.
“So companies take the path of least resistance and let American workers go.”
Nevertheless, Lynn estimates that H-1B workers make up roughly one-third of the current layoffs. Since visa holders are, by definition, temporary employers he believes they should be the first to go.
The current upheaval provides one more reason for Congress to take up the American Tech Workforce Act, which would stop Big Tech’s exploitation of the U.S. immigration system.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., would:
• Set a wage floor for H-1B visas at the higher of the annual wage last paid to an American worker who filled the position, or $110,000 (adjusted for inflation).
• Limit tech firms’ use of third-party companies to fill spots with H-1B recipients.
• Cap the visa validity period at one year.
“The bill corrects some glaring flaws in the H-1B program, which has had a severely detrimental effect on the job opportunities and wages of American workers,” says R.J. Hauman, director of government relations at FAIR.
He noted that the legislation would also end Optional Practical Training (OPT), a large but little-known program that allows Big Tech companies to hire foreign students over American graduates.
“Immigration policymaking should not be solely focused on border security, but also protecting American workers from unfair competition,” Hauman concluded.
Banks’ bill was introduced nearly a year ago. If Republicans take control of the House, it might actually get a hearing. American tech workers are counting on it as tech moguls persist in their cheap and unseemly clamor for evermore indentured servants from abroad.