When President Obama was participating in a live video chat, Jennifer Wedel asked him, "Why does the government continue to issue and extend H-1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?" Her husband is a semiconductor engineer who was laid off three years ago and is still unable to find an engineering job.
We all would like the answer to that question.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that, counting only U.S.-born individuals, there are 101,000 with an engineering degree who are unemployed, another 244,000 who are not working or not looking for work and therefore not counted in unemployment statistics, and an additional 1.47 million who have an engineering degree but are not working as an engineer.
Obama's answer to Wedel sounded like he had been well briefed by the big corporation lobbyists. He even expressed bewilderment that any U.S. high-tech engineer could be out of work because industry executives tell him there is an unfilled "huge demand" for engineers.
Obama said, "H-1Bs should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field." Yes, indeed, they should. But in fact, they are not.
Created in 1990, the H-1B program was designed for employers to import foreign H-1B workers to fill various high-tech jobs only when Americans could not be found, and the law was supposed to make it illegal for an employer to replace an American with an H-1B worker. However, the big corporation lobbyists succeeded in fuzzying up the law so there is now no effective rule to prevent employers from firing American jobholders and replacing them with H-1B aliens.
Big companies prefer H-1B workers because they can pay them significantly less than Americans, never have to give them a raise or promotion, and have the unilateral power to deport them. H-1B workers don't dare to complain about working conditions or unpaid long hours, and they can't quit to take a better job.
Most H-1B workers are imported for entry-level jobs and trained by experienced U.S. workers who are then laid off. This process has introduced a new expression and acronym into the English language -- DYOG: Dig Your Own Grave.
One senator understands this problem: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. In a letter to the president last month, he pointed out how Obama's response to Jennifer Wedel shows he is only regurgitating the corporation lobbyists' sales talk with their phony mantra that "there are better and brighter people abroad."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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