Who Should Immigration be Helping?

Appearing in:

Orange County Register

Recent revelations about the firing of American tech workers and their replacement by temporary visa holders reveal, in the starkest way, why many Americans are wary of the impact of untrammeled immigration. Workers in American companies have been removed from their jobs not because they could not perform them, but because their replacements, largely from India, are simply cheaper and, likely, more malleable.

The H-1B temporary visa program was purportedly designed to help tech firms hire specialized talent to fill needs not adequately addressed by the U.S. labor market. But what it has really become is a way to lay off workers for cheaper ones.

Silicon Valley’s Phony War

A looming shortage of domestic tech talent has long been a siren song played in Silicon Valley by grandees such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. It is common to hear them claim the visa program must be expanded for them to compete.

Immigrant entrepreneurs and technical staff are hugely important, but the notion about “shortages” of IT workers is dicey at best. A 2013 report from the labor-aligned Economic Policy Institute found that the country is producing 50 percent more IT professionals each year than are being employed. EPI estimates “guest workers” now account for one-third to one-half of all new IT job holders, much of them through contracts with Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services, both based in India. These two firms, according to EPI, have cost over 12,000 U.S. workers their jobs this year alone.

Read the entire piece at The Orange County Register.