7 February 2007

H1B is the root cause for underemployment in America

Recently, President Bush revealed again how out of touch he is with working Americans. Speaking to employees at DuPont, Bush exclaimed “We’ve got to expand what’s called H1B visas.

It’s been a few years since I toiled as a computer programmer in the IT department (and when I started, it was called Data Processing) for $BigCorporation. Now, I spend my workdays developing web applications for clients and an employer not in the domain of $BigCorporation. I still remain in contact with friends who are still sweating it out, hanging on for an impending retirement that can’t come soon enough. So I really don’t know how many computer programmers are still entangled with recurrent outsourcing and imported non-immigrant visa worker concerns — those I know still in the business are either leading offshore teams, in senior management, or consulting in some specialized realm of IT. But I’ve written extensively on this matter previously, and sadly, everything is playing out as I predicted.

So let me let another speak out on the matter — here are some relevant portions of a letter to the editor, or response to the AP article on the matter:

My name is Richard Vickers, a US contract software engineer. On 1/24/2007, President Bush gave a speech at a Dupont facility where he stated “It makes no sense to say to a young scientist from India, you can’t come to America to help this company develop technologies that help us deal with our problems,” stating further, “We’ve got to expand what’s called H1B visas (for skilled foreign workers),”.

I am a FL resident, but I am willing to work at any location performing any work. I hold a BS in Computer Science and have over fifteen years of successful IT contract experience. In 2001, when the H-1b cap was last raised, I went over eighteen months without work, followed by two years of low salary work, part of which was done for $5.00/hr. I just barely survived. Now, with over 500,000 H- 1b visa holders currently in the US, many now with expired visas, I am again finding it difficult to find work. While I am again finding it difficult to find work, the President is seeking to bring in more foreign, temporary workers under H-1b.

The H-1b visa program has provided three affects on the US economy, namely;

  1. it has driven down wages for all IT workers, described by the late Milton Friedman as a labor “subsidy”,

  2. it has provided American employers with indentured servants, as H-1b visas require the worker to stay with the requesting employer regardless of working conditions, and

  3. it has flooded the market with foreign workers, many without IT degrees, but given basic training, training refused American citizens, and therefore driving many American IT workers out of the field.

Even an Indian newspaper editorial chastised the President for this policy stance.

American Corporations and American Universities are exploiting the talented youth of India and other countries through F1, J1 and H1B visas. Some of those who come with H1B visas are less talented ‘failed’ engineers in India and other countries trying to earn some living in software application development. Simply put they perform automation of clerical work. H1B was not designed for that. The real talent comes to America with student visa. They complete their degree in America and finally obtain H1B and the Greencard (path to US citizenship).

H1B is the root cause for underemployment in America. The professional wages are depressed and qualified American citizens sacrifice their standard of living.

Currently H1B is totally abused. In India a set of middlemen (worse than drug dealers) trade young people to American Corporations who hire these men and women for low salaries to make them work for six years. Most of these men and women eventually are discarded after six years or less of exploitation. Most of them come to United States with a hope to settle in USA. They eventually find ways to stay back. Many of them eventually become illegal aliens.

The American Universities are worse. For example, Rutgers University’s Geography department refused American Citizens (with 3.9 GPA and on Dean’s list) from Graduate Studies while bringing in mediocre talents from India on F1 visa with fat teaching and research assistantships and free tuition. Guess what these students from India are working on? They are working on climate studies of India while talented American citizens are deprived from graduate studies in Geographic Information Systems. The exploitation of foreign nationals and discrimination against American citizens are profound even more in Engineering and Computer Science departments. The Faculty in these schools make these foreign nationals do the research and then they coauthor the reasearch articles with them to manifest their own research talents. It is shame for American Universities. Rutgers is just an example. Other Universities are no exception.