4 April 2002

ITAA Disinformation On H1B Visa

I wrote this in response to an publically posted argument in favor of the H-1B visa program by ITAA president Harris Miller

Mr. Miller, you've done nothing to dispel the notion that you're merely a shill for an organization that's solely interested in preserving a source of cheap labor for the tech industry at the expense of American professional IT workers and the communities in which they live. I speak as a programmer who has witnessed and endured first hand the follies of this misguided program. I find it enlightening that Tancredo's arguments are supported with empirical data, while you attempt to cast opponents of your proclamations as aspirants of "anti-immigrant fervor".

First, let me say that I have nothing but the utmost respect for individuals emigrating to this country to apply their IT knowledge and hone their craft. I count many as friends, and several as dear friends. Yes, there may be a small contingent of those who dislike immigrants for xenophobic reasons, but I think a consensus of IT professionals bear no ill grudges against the H-1B visa holders themselves, just the anti-American policies that undercut our means of providing for our families.

Your arguments are riddled with inaccuracies, irrelevant anecdotal references and blatantly false prentensions. I'll try not to allow emotion to seep into my arguments here, but speaking as an American who was displaced in a previous computer programming position by an H-1B visa holder, it may be a tad difficult. But here goes ...

  1. Your cry of a "small, vocal minority" in opposition couldn't be any further from the truth - I suppose it would be astounding if someone who serves as a lobbyist for industry employers was really in tune with the technical professionals who do most of the critical work in IT departments. I will attest that most all are in complete disagreement with your sentiments and are wholeheartedly against the displacement of friends and colleagues with H-1B visa foreign replacements. Some are more vocal about it than others, but nearly everyone, when queried, shares their feelings about how they believe it's a raw deal for American IT workers. But equally devastating is the taint that clings to management - leadership proclaims that H1-B visas (and offshore outsourcing) are for the company's bottom line and needed to stay competitive and save the employee's job, but then the employees are axed in favor of the cheaper immigrant labor as part of the program. Only well heeled lobbyists such as yourself, immigration lawyers, and Washington politicians with full campaign coffers concur with you on this point.

  2. You postulate that H-1B visa candidates "must have specialized knowledge in their field and substantial formal education". Also, you also wrote "H-1Bs aren't just for IT workers". Wrong on both accords. Yes, there is a small subset of H-1B visa immigrants that are truly gifted and/or possess the specialized knowledge you offer forth. But in the majority of positions, most are raw recruits, coming to the United States with nothing more than a sheepskin and unverifiable references. As I can personally attest to, in some instances, a subject with "requisite experience" consisted of being handed a manual on the plane trip from India. I've worked long enough in this profession to see the metamorphisis of how new IT workers are recruited. There was a day when companies sought ambitious, arduous candidates from other departments of the company. Applicants would be exhaustively tested, only the top scorers then qualifying for a rigirous training program - resulting in a win/win for both the company who that gained a IT worker with an already in-depth grasp of the business workings of his employer now in an elevated career path. That simply doesn't happen anymore - now a half-dozen new H-1B hires are shoved into a room together when the company is looking for entry level programmers. As to your statement on H1-B not being just for "IT workers", well, it just rings hollow, as I will append the report URL reference, but I believe over 90% of H-1B visa holders are computer related.

  3. I disagree with your assertion that the H-1B visa program has successfully created wealth and prosperity" for Americans. Well, not entirely, as it has increased wealth for a small percentage of involved participants - the employer who profits from cheaper labor costs, and the "body shop" contract outfits that take 50-75% of the hourly bill rate that many H-1B visa holders incur. And contrary to your drivel on U.S. labor law ramifications, the H-1B visa tech worker makes less money than the same American worker on average. Yes, we know all the little tricks on how the fine print is adhered to and the spirt of the law skirted around - it's no secret. I'll comprise a separate writeup on this particular subtopic if desired, but I wager those who've had any experience working with along side with H-1B workers, know the nature of what I'm saying here. The plain fact is until a H-1B visa holder gets a green card, the employer holds a big advantage in rate/salary negotiations that translates to significantly lower money than the equivalent American would receive.

Again, your arguments are stemmed with anecdotal evidence that can't even be validated from someone in your vantage point. An overwhelming majority of computer professionals dispute your industry funded propaganda. And folks are going to get vocal, as it amounts to taking bread off of the table for Americans and their families. I've been personally affected, I have friends and coworkers that have shared the same negative experiences - quality people forced out of a profession they've worked in for the duration of their careers - working as lifeguards or waiters, opting for alternate career paths. H-1B visa is a bad deal for Americans and American communities.


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