Nov 16, 2014
President Obama suffered two history making midterm landslides, his approval ratings hit all time lows, but his administration is taking the drubbing in stride and decided to leak details of a controversial amnesty via executive order.
Officials at the White House revealed a 10-point amnesty plan that includes a provision to legalize up to 5 million parents of children born in the U.S. (anchor babies), expand the “deferred action” for “kids” who are under the age of 31 as of June 2012 (Dreamers) and give the first 10,000 illegal immigrants to sign up a 50 percent reduction in administrative fees.
Watch Kimberly’s One America News TV segment here
Watch Kimberly’s San Diego 6 News TV segment here
But it wouldn’t be politics if there weren’t some pay back involved and the recipients in this executive order are purportedly hi-tech billionaires. The president is prepared to increase the current 65,000 H-1B visas handed out per year to more than 155,000 visa holders if they are studying for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) degrees. Emerging details also glean that tech majors will be eligible for citizenship including their spouses.
This proposed increase of visas, is exactly what large tech firms like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates, have been asking Congress over the years. “For the second year in a row, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates ventured to Capitol Hill and urged Congress to let more foreign-born engineers work in the United States and to direct larger numbers of tax dollars to research and education,” (story link).
Ron Hira, the author of book Outsourcing America and a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology told CNET News.com “it’s wrong for Gates to imply that most H-1Bs are going to the brightest foreigners with advanced degrees and earning them big bucks. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the typical H-1B holder holds a bachelor’s degree and is making a median salary of $50,000. And the same NSF report referenced by Gates says less than 1 percent of H-1B recipients in computer-related professions even hold doctoral degrees, and about 44 percent hold master’s degrees.”
For the past two decades academic scholars have quietly complained about stagnant wages in the STEM industry and pointed to large tech firms hiring foreign STEM grads leaving half of their American counterparts looking for work in fields outside their STEM occupation even though foreigners attended the same U.S. universities as their American counterparts (Read H-1B visas legalize human trafficking).
Specifically, a Fiscal Times story from Liz Peek reports the number of degrees added annually in the natural sciences and engineering the equivalent of National Science Foundation (NSF’s) that the STEM field-grew from 241,000 in the year 2000 to 355,000 in 2012.
So why are America’s STEM grads being left behind? According to Nobel economist Milton Friedman, the U.S. government is stocking Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and others with much cheaper H-1B visa holders. “There is no doubt that the H-1B program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a (government) subsidy.”
Ardent amnesty critic Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) penned an op/ed for Politico this week “No Surrender on Immigration” pointing out the election was not a mandate for Obama to use his phone and pen. “This decree (executive order amnesty) would operate much like his unlawful ‘Deferred Action’: conferring work permits, photo IDs, and Social Security numbers to millions of individuals illegally present in the U.S.—allowing them to take jobs and benefits directly from struggling American workers. It is a scheme the Congress has explicitly refused to pass.
“The President will arrogate (appoint) himself the sole and absolute power to decide who can work in the U.S., who can live in the U.S., and who can claim benefits in the U.S.—by the millions. His actions will wipe out the immigration protections to which every single American citizen is lawfully entitled. And his actions will ensure—as law enforcement officers have cried out in repeated warnings—a “tidal wave” of new illegal immigration,” Sessions said.
He further claimed Congress can derail President Obama’s executive action by controlling the purse and not letting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services redirect funds and personnel away from its “mandated enforcement duties and towards processing applications, amnesty benefits, and employment authorizations for illegal immigrants and illegal overstays. It is a massive and expensive operation.”
The southern Senator likened it to the closing of Guantanamo Bay (GTMO). Early in Obama’s first term he tried to close the infamous prison that holds the 9/11 five and a rowdy American electorate backed Congress’ defunding action. “Congress has the power of the purse. The President cannot spend a dime unless Congress appropriates it,” he concluded.
Another detail in the leaked 10-point plan includes reward money in the form of raises for Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) employees. The administration believes a raise would boost the current low morale in the agency that has been outlined in a brand new lawsuit against ICE management.
Details are emerging from a lawsuit filed last week by Patricia Vroom, a 26-year career employee with ICE, who leveled heavy allegations that the Obama administration has been participating in an immigration enforcement suppression scheme. “In addition to describing a hostile work environment spoiled by sexual harassment, threats, insults, and other deplorable behavior of these top managers, Vroom’s complaint provides alarming examples of how personnel were told to ignore the law and routinely release and dismiss charges on entire categories of criminal aliens, including certain convicted felons, drunk drivers, DACA applicants, and illegal juveniles from the border surge.” (More info about lawsuit)
And finally law enforcement officials are weighing in on the amnesty talk from a legal standpoint and speaking out to Washington DC politicians next month.
More than 200 Sheriff’s from across the country, organized by a Massachusetts’ Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, will descend on Capitol Hill to warn lawmakers about the consequences of mass amnesty and how the move will increase security concerns for those who reside in the communities with a high number of illegal immigrants.
“Never before in our nation’s history has it been so important for the American Sheriffs to stand united and speak with one voice to secure our nation’s borders. No longer can we sit idle while the inaction of our Federal Government marginalizes our ability to preserve public safety, enforce our laws, and protect the Constitutional rights of all who legitimately reside and work in our communities. As a fellow Sheriff, and someone who shares a common mission and obligation to defend the public safety and national security concerns of our citizens, I am respectfully asking that you join me and our brother and sister Sheriffs on December 10, 2014 in at the United States Capitol to encourage immediate action by Congress and the Administration to pass legislation that will secure border security once and for all,” Hodgson wrote in a letter.
Another consideration Americans should consider whether or not incoming or illegal immigrants play an economic factor within the Medicare/Medicaid social welfare programs. According to a Health and Human Resources government report, immigrants and their children add approximately $4.6 billion annually to Medicaid.
Clearly immigration, from visas to amnesty, will be on the agenda for the lame duck Congress, but Republican’s are hoping they will get a chance to define border security as well as a pathway to citizenship sometime in 2015. However it’s tough to gauge if Mr. Obama is just floating ideas that will infuriate the electorate or escape voter wrath. Stay tune for more fireworks.
H-1B visas legalize human trafficking
Facebook’s newly minted multi-billionaire and FWD.us, Mark Zuckerberg, a product of U.S. schools including Harvard, has taken his newfound political clout to Capitol Hill in an effort to pressure Congress on immigration reform, specifically H-1B visas.
“The future of our economy is a knowledge economy. And that means getting the most talented people into this country is the most important thing that we can do to make sure that the companies of tomorrow are founded here,” he told ABC News.
The 29-year-old self-proclaimed social media phenom also quipped, “Young people are just smarter,” something he later apologized for. However, Zuckerberg also recognizes the profitably of hiring H-1B visa holders over American kids. Critics call it the immigration lottery, as most foreign students will work twice the hours for half the pay as their U.S. counterparts in order to gain legal status in America.
“I’m fundamentally an optimistic person, as an entrepreneur,” Zuckerberg says. “The vast majority of Americans want this to happen. People often talk about two parts of the issue. The high-skilled H1B visas for the high-tech companies and the full comprehensive immigration reform as if they are two different issues, but anyone who knows a dreamer knows that they’re not.”
Zuckerberg, along with other tech giants like Bill Gates would have Americans believe that there is a scarcity of high-skilled tech industry job applicants, however, 50 percent of Science Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) graduates will NOT find work in the high-tech sector.
Why? Nobel prized economist Milton Friedman said the U.S. government is stocking Microsoft, Facebook, Apple and others with much cheaper H-1B visa holders. “There is no doubt that the H-1B program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a (government) subsidy.”
High Tech Blues
Facebook’s new Political Action Committee FWD.us has support from the usual Silicon Valley executives at Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, Instagram and Dropbox. The group has bipartisan support in DC that favors a massive expansion of H-1B visas. FWD.us even launched “a large national buy (ad campaign), targeting cable and online outlets across the country.”
Nevertheless, the ads say nothing about the side effects of the H-1B visa expansion. Numerous studies have cited the H-1B visas contribute to wage depression. Just ask Gene Nelson, a PhD who was asked to train his replacement, a twenty something, for $11 dollars per hour. John Miano from the Center for Immigration Studies confirmed Nelson’s dilemma. “I know a lot of others who have been H-1B’d.”
Oftentimes the result of the H-1B visa program is that 35+ and older workers are thrown away like yesterday’s newspaper. Nelson said the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill S744 would be a disaster for Americans. He compared the exhaustive legislation to ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill away from the fog of all this.” Nelson said Obamacare is proof that the government can’t afford another hastily passed mega bill.
More evidence of H-1B blues came from a study released last spring by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) during the heat of a national immigration debate. Rutgers’s University Professor Hal Salzman, Daniel Kuehn of American University and B. Lindsay Lowell of Georgetown University released an exhaustive paper on “Guestworkers in the high-skill U.S. labor market.” The report concluded that there was not a shortage of bright, qualified graduates capable of filling the high tech jobs.
The EPI study found that U.S. colleges provided ample qualified STEM grads. Some of the key findings included:
• Guestworkers may be filling as many as half of all new IT jobs each year
• IT workers earn the same today as they did, generally, 14 years ago
• Currently, only one of every two STEM college graduates is hired into a STEM job each year
• Policies that expand the supply of guestworkers will discourage U.S. students from going into STEM, and into IT in particular
“The debate over guestworker programs is largely based on anecdotal evidence and testimonials from employers, rather than solid evidence,” Salzman said. “Our examination shows that the STEM shortage in the United States is largely overblown. Guestworker programs are in need of reform, but any changes should make sure that guestworkers are not lower-paid substitutes for domestic workers.”
Recognizing the growing problem San Diego students face, UCSD’s K-16 program Director Edward Abeyta works directly with neighboring tech firms to prepare students with extra skills to increase their chances of landing coveted tech jobs. However, Abeyta concedes nearly 50 percent of UCSD STEM graduates will be unsuccessful in obtaining a STEM job after graduation.
It’s about the bottom line
According to Computerworld tech companies are “awash in cash, yet claim to need more foreign workers to stay on life support. If corporate profits are any measure, this line of reasoning falls squarely into the category of pure blather. The SP500 companies are sitting on a cash pile of $1.3 trillion.”
The past decade has been very kind to Apple. It is hailed as the world leader in electronic gadget innovation. According to Moody’s, Apple has accumulated a cash hoard of $147 billion, which equates to nearly 10 percent of all corporate cash held by nonfinancial companies. Google is a distant second with $56 billion cash on hand and Facebook rounds out the top three with $10 billion. All three-tech giants are lobbying Congress to lift the H-1B visa cap, something that could stymie American students for years to come.
Watch Kimberly Dvorak’s San Diego 6 TV STEM segments: http://www.sandiego6.com/story/stem-and-immigration-reform-20130519 and http://www.sandiego6.com/story/zuckerberg-and-immigration-20131201
With the help of political PACs, STEM employers use “dark money” (a term used by 501(c)(4)s and 501(c)(6)s donors who wish to remain anonymous), in a calculated effort to continue the flow of foreign workers. Rep. Zoe Lofgren told Computerworld that “the average wage for computer systems analysts in her district is $92,000, but the U.S. government prevailing wage rate for H-1B workers in the same job currently stands at $52,000, or $40,000 less. ‘Small wonder there’s a problem here, we can’t have people coming in and undercutting the American educated workforce.’”
One outspoken critic of the H-1B expansion is STEM professor Norm Matloff of UC Davis who says the program requires serious reform. “The phrase I use is ‘de facto indentured servant.’ Any H-1B worker is legally free to quit work and go to work for another employer at any time–but in various senses, they don’t dare do so. This is the case for H-1B workers being sponsored by their employers for green cards. (This equates to most of the foreign workers hired from U.S. university campuses.) The green card process is very lengthy, so the worker would not want to go to another employer and start the green card process all over again from scratch. In other words, they’re trapped.”
For those H-1Bs who are not being sponsored for green cards, many hope to be sponsored, according to Matloff. In many cases the employer will string them along, with the suggestion that the employer may sponsor the worker for a green card “later.”
Immigration lawyers are also willing participants and have publicly extolled the fact that green card sponsorees are immobile. For example recent comments by immigration attorney David Swaim, mentioned “the most important advantage of [green card sponsorship] is the fact that the employee is tied to a particular position with one company and must remain with the company in most cases for more than four years.”
Additional background into the relationship between William Gates, III, Microsoft Corporation, corrupt lobbyist Jack A. Abramoff, “Team Abramoff” and the controversial H-1B Visa, comes from an exposé paper written by Nelson, “The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit.” The report was updated in 2012, “How Record Immigration Levels Robbed American High-Tech Workers of $10 Trillion.”
Nelson contends that the adverse effect on wages and working conditions of the 37 million work visa admissions between 1975-2010 has been historically unprecedented. Nelson concludes that employer advocacy groups helped facilitate an estimated salary and benefit avoidance of $150,000.00 (per visa admission). The result has caused millions of Americans who were in the ranks of the middle class to move into the ranks of the poor. “Economic elites covet more foreign workers to boost their profits by an estimated $150,000.00 per visa admission,” Nelson finished.
In a November 2013 NPR interview, Anthony Carnevale of The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, tells host Michel Martin STEM practitioners rise into the ranks of management. Nelson disagrees wholeheartedly.
“It serves the purpose of luring young, impressionable people into STEM fields, where in reality, they are typically used for a few years, then they are ‘thrown away,’” he said. “The consequence of historically unprecedented STEM talent gluts – exacerbated by employer advocacy (and abuse of) controversial work visa programs such as H-1B relegates natives to the back of the line (For additional background, see “The STEM Crisis is a Myth” in the September, 2013 IEEE Spectrum).
For those interested in the “story behind the story,” note that the Gates Foundation gave $6,986,601 beginning in 2008 to Georgetown University to support postsecondary education. “I believe most of that money flowed to the Center on Education and the Workforce, which Anthony Carnevale directs,” Nelson said.
“Also, the Gates Foundation provided grants totaling $6,213,737 since February, 2000 to National Public Radio. Do you think granting a total of over $13.2 million is validation of the saying; ‘Those who pay the piper call the tune?’”
The reality for a lot of grads is the last 5-10 years are on track to be the “new normal,” Matloff predicts. The H-1B crisis could reinvent a new middle class and Senate bill 744 “is” awful because it could uncap the H-1B visas. The “X-factor” here lies in the regulations that are typically written after the law is passed, think Obamacare.
Trying to change the focus from Obamacare, President Obama shifted his focus to comprehensive immigration reform. “It’s long past time to fix our broken immigration system,” President Obama said last week at the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco.
However critics of the H-1B program said students should heed this warning: “A report this past spring from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute ranked unemployment by majors: almost 15 percent of recent Information Systems graduates were without work, the highest of any major, compared to 7.9 percent for college graduates overall. Nearly 9 percent of computer science majors were unemployed, compared to 4.8 percent for nursing, for instance.” (See more at: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2013/12/04/Obamas-Immigration-Sop-Silicon-Valley)
The Zuckerberg initiative begs the question as to why the same education system that produced billionaires, Gates, Jobs, and Zuckerberg, and from which the current H-1B visa applicants are culled is not adequate for hiring American students?
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