Immigration and Guest Worker Policies Undermining U.S. Tech Workers, Finds New Report from FAIR
(November 14, 2011 — Washington, D.C.) — Even amid the bleakest labor market in generations, we are constantly told that American workers are either unwilling or unable to perform certain jobs. Despite evidence to the contrary, the political class has largely come to accept that American workers will not perform physically demanding labor. There is now also a concerted effort to convince the public that Americans are unqualified for intellectually demanding jobs.
A new report by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), Jobs Americans Can’t Do?: The Myth of a Skilled Labor Shortage, concludes that the United States produces an ample supply of qualified workers to fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs. Rather, business interest-driven immigration and guest worker policies are shutting American workers out of many STEM jobs in their own country, finds the report.
Prior to the recession, the National Science Foundation estimated that there were between 4.3 million and 5.8 million STEM jobs in the U.S. for some 16.6 million workers with degrees in those fields. As a result, nearly two-thirds of native-born workers with degrees in science and engineering are working in careers outside their field of training. Meanwhile, the U.S. labor market is flooded with hundreds of thousands of H-1B guest workers, and multi-national corporations are increasingly utilizing L-1 visas to transfer overseas workers to jobs in the U.S.
Among the key findings of Jobs Americans Can’t Do?:
The U.S. has an adequate supply of native-born STEM workers to meet present and foreseeable labor market needs.
STEM industry employers prefer H-1B workers. The Government Accountability Office confirms this finding, stating, “H-1B workers [are] often prepared to work for less money than U.S. workers.”
Wages for workers with STEM degrees have not kept pace with wages of other college graduates and, in some occupations have actually declined in recent years.
Petitions for additional H-1B workers are virtually rubber-stamped by the government, with 94 percent of requests approved by the Department of Labor.
The issuance of L-1 visas, for intra-company transfers, grew by 53 percent between 2000 and 2008. There is no numerical cap on the issuance of L-1 visas.
Nine of the top ten companies petitioning for L-1 visas between 1999 and 2004 produced absolutely nothing in this country. These companies were IT outsourcing firms which rent out workers to other companies.
“In a post-industrial economy, STEM jobs were supposed to be the shining promise of the future for Americans who were prepared to put in the hard work to train for careers in these fields. Instead, after significant investment of time, energy and money, that promise has become a mirage for many Americans. Many STEM jobs are being outsourced to workers in other countries, while companies have nearly unfettered ability to in-source foreign workers to fill the jobs that remain here,” noted Dan Stein, president of FAIR.
“As is the case in so many other sectors of our economy, powerful business interests and an acquiescent federal government are undermining the interests of American workers, or forcing them out of their chosen fields entirely. Visa programs that were originally designed to complement the American labor force are being used as a wedge to displace large numbers of American workers, or to artificially depress their wages,” said Stein.
The current system must be corrected so that it serves the legitimate needs of U.S. companies while protecting the vital interests of American workers. Jobs Americans Can’t Do provides detailed recommendations to reform work-based visa programs to reduce excessive levels of legal immigration and ensure that American workers have a chance to prosper in the 21st century economy.