The corporations had such clout with politicians that in 2000 they got the number of allowable H-1B visas tripled to 195,000 - even while the industry was hiring only 2 percent of software applicants. In a striking example of stealth politics, on Oct. 3, 2000, the House leadership announced there would be no more votes that evening. Then, after most members had departed, passed the H-1B increase by a voice vote with only about 40 out of 435 members present.
Rep. Thomas M. Davis, R-Va., the chairman of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, candidly commented, "This is not a popular bill with the public. ... This is a very important issue for the high-tech executives who give the money."
U.S. Sen. Robert F. Bennett, R-Utah, admitted, "There were, in fact, a whole lot of folks against it, but because they are tapping the high-tech community for campaign contributions, they don't want to admit that in public."
By 2001, corporations and contracting firms were employing at least 384,191 workers with H-1B visas without any demonstration of a labor shortage, plus at least 328,480 workers with L-1 visas masquerading as "intra-company transferees." In a bitter postscript to the careers of laid-off Americans, they were often required to train their foreign cheap-labor substitutes.
The NBC television affiliate in West Hartford reported why Connecticut has 20,000 unemployed white-collar tech workers but 70,253 employed aliens. Insurance giant Cigna Corp. fired its Connecticut workers and turned its tech jobs over to the Indian firm, Satyam, under a "closed-loop process providing Satyam with the right of first refusal for all consultants requests."
This Cigna agreement denies U.S. citizens even the chance to compete. Where are the conservatives who argued for years against closed union shop?
Siemens Corp. contracted to have its U.S. employees in Florida replaced by foreigners brought in by Tata Consultancy Services, one of India's largest consulting firms. When Tata used L-1 visas to bring in Indians at one-third the salary of the laid-off Americans, a Siemens representative shrugged off questions by saying, "They don't work for us. They work for Tata."
What to do?
Congress should reject all attempts to extend the current number of H-1B visas and allow the limit to revert to 65,000; require employers to show a good-faith effort to hire U.S. citizens before applying for visas; require employers to lay off non-citizens before laying off U.S. citizens; restrict L-1 visas to jobs paying $100,000 a year and prohibit transfers between companies; and forbid U.S. government agencies from hiring non-citizens or from contracting with outside firms that hire non-citizens.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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