Deleting the American Worker: Abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker System in the High Tech Industry (2003)
Despite the well-documented troubles that have afflicted the high tech industry over the past three years — countless companies have gone out of business and millions of workers have lost their jobs, creating a growing pool of available labor — many companies continue to import workers from overseas. The H-1B and L-1 visa programs allow people in professional occupations to work in the United States on a temporary basis. At a time of high unemployment, the high tech industry is flooding the labor market by importing workers who are willing to work more cheaply than American high tech workers.
The high tech industry’s push to maintain high temporary worker visa levels in the face of economic downturn and rising unemployment stems from a desire to have a supply of cheap, exploitable foreign workers — not from any evidence of a high tech worker shortage, as the industry originally claimed when it pushed for the program to be increased.
- Temporary foreign workers are paid lower salaries than their American counterparts, driving down the prevailing wage and putting American workers at a competitive disadvantage.
- Employers are laying off American workers and replacing them with cheaper foreign workers under the H-1B and L-1 programs. No law prevents this.
- The temporary worker program is rife with fraud and abuse. the required government review of H-1B applications is a rubber stamp operation and is not safeguarding American jobs as Congress intended.
- Although the H-1B program is meant to provide companies with labor unavailable in this country, no evidence exists of a worker shortage, to the contrary, the market is filled with laid off, unemployed American high tech workers.
- Miniscule as the protections in the H-1B program are, the L-1 program puts American workers at an even great disadvantage. Unlike the H-1B visa, the L-1 visa does not require that the employer pay the worker in the U.S. the prevailing wage for the type of work being performed.
- Abuse is so blatant that in some cases, companies are bringing workers in on L-1 visas and making their American employees train their foreign replacements before being laid off.
- As companies turn to the L-1 visa program to sidestep H-1B regulations, the use of the program is rising, almost doubling since 1995.
The full report is available in PDF.