Center for Immigration Studies, Center for Investigative Journalism, Donald Trump, federal contracting, H-1B visa, Im-Politic, Immigration, Jobs, John Miano, KeepAmericaatWork.org, labor shortages, Mainstream Media, Norman Matloff, Obama, skills gap, technology, Virgil Bierschwale, wages
It’s now become commonplace for establishment politicians and their Mainstream Media enablers to acknowledge that so-called “insurgent” presidential candidates – especially Republican Donald Trump – have “tapped into” public anger against their performance. Far less common are signs that the establishment is prepared to take even the most obvious steps to respond constructively to this anger, and Virgil Bierschwale’s excellent “Keep America at Work” blog has just turned up a great and oh-so-revealing example.
As Virgil and many others (including me) have noted, the H-1B program under which the U.S. government hands out temporary work visas to foreigners supposedly with special skills has long been abused by employers, especially in the technology sector. Claiming that they can’t find the talented workers they need in the American workforce, tech companies have frequently hired H-1Bs – and continually lobbied for more – simply in order to drive down wages and therefore boost their profits.
And in the first sentence of this paragraph, I used the word “noted,” very deliberately. For even though expanding the H-1B program enjoys strong bipartisan support among the many American political leaders who receive handsome campaign contributions from the technology industry, the U.S. government itself over the years has charged numerous tech firms with violations of the central H-1B requirement that they pay these workers prevailing wages.
So you’d think that this same federal government would at least refrain from rewarding these crooked companies by denying them federal contracts. As Virgil has just shown, however, you’d be wrong. His August 20 post reported on a study by the Center for Investigative Journalism that found:
“The federal government has awarded contracts and other benefits worth nearly half a billion dollars since 2000 to tech labor brokers cited for violating laws related to the temporary visa program known as H-1B.
“Since 2000, nearly 20 percent of the technology labor brokers and tech firms cited for violating the H-1B visa program have received federal contracts, payments and other government support.
“The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Labor are among the agencies that have looked past H-1B violations or failed to check the record.
“Even labor brokers facing the ultimate penalty for H-1B labor violations – debarment from the temporary visa program – found ways back in.”
And what about President Obama, the self-styled champion of the American worker? This summer, he signed an executive order requiring anyone seeking significant federal contracts to notify Washington if they’ve recently broken labor laws. “Our tax dollars shouldn’t go to companies that violate workplace laws. They shouldn’t go to companies that violate worker rights,” Mr. Obama said.
But H-1B violators have nothing to fear. They’ve been expressly exempted from the new order.
So although I usually shy away from predictions, I feel pretty confident in believing that, throughout this presidential campaign and beyond, establishment politicians in both parties and their media enablers will continue to bemoan the troubles of the American workforce and hail technology industries as a big part of the solution. Federal contracting practices like those described by Virgil will continue to be a big part of the problem (along with other job- and wage-killing measures like amnesty-friendly overall immigration policies and offshoring-friendly trade agreements). And establishment politicians – along with the Mainstream Media which missed this H-1B scandal and keeps ignoring it – will keep pretending that they get it on voter anger.
FYI, for other terrific sources of information, analysis, and coverage re H-1B and many other immigration issues, check out Norman Matloff’s “Upon Closer Inspection” and the work of the Center for Immigration Studies, notably John Miano’s blog.