“A group of chief executive officers at the largest U.S. companies expressed serious concern about the Trump administration’s immigration policy and said the rules increase uncertainty and undermine economic growth,” Reuters reports. “In the letter signed by 59 CEOs including Tim Cook of Apple Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co’s Jamie Dimon and Doug Parker of American Airlines, the executives said that many of their employees were now facing uncertainty due to issues such as ‘inconsistent immigration decisions’ that would likely curtail work permits for spouses of skilled immigrants.”
“‘As the federal government undertakes its legitimate review of immigration rules, it must avoid making changes that disrupt the lives of thousands of law-abiding and skilled employees, and that inflict substantial harm on U.S. competitiveness,’ the CEOs said in a letter dated Wednesday,” Reuters reports. “‘At a time when the number of job vacancies are reaching historic highs due to labor shortages, now is not the time restrict access to talent,’ the letter added.”
“Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen… told reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday that the administration was only strictly enforcing the law,” Reuters reports. ‘This administration did not create a policy of separating families… What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law,’ she said.”
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“U.S. Citizenship and Immigration director Francis Cissna, talking to a group pushing for reductions in numbers of foreign workers and immigrants, cited ‘all sorts of fraud and abuse’ in the H-1B program that many Silicon Valley companies rely on for highly skilled workers and ‘across all these programs,'” Ethan Baron reports for The Mercury News. “The H-1B visa, intended for foreign workers doing specialized jobs has become a flashpoint in the immigration debate, with firms arguing it should be expanded beyond the annual 85,000 new visas so they can acquire the world’s top talent, and critics pointing to reported abuses and asserting the visa is used to replace Americans with cheaper, foreign workers.”
“Cissna said he wanted elected representatives to take action on the H-1B,” Baron reports. “‘I would really love it if Congress would just pass a one-sentence provision that would just prohibit American workers in being replaced by H-1B workers,’ Cissna said in a talk last week to the Center for Immigration Studies, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. People trying to ‘game’ the immigration system is an ‘eternal problem’ for officials, he said.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies.
The following editorial was published by The New York Times‘ Editorial Board, June 16, 2016, five months prior to the 2016 U.S. Presidential election:
There is no doubt that H-1B visas — temporary work permits for specially talented foreign professionals — are instead being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, recently became the latest large American company to use the visas in this way, following the lead of other employers, including Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), Disney, Toys “R” Us and New York Life.
The visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in “specialty occupations” requiring “highly specialized knowledge,” and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.
Lawmakers from both parties have denounced the visa abuse, but it is increasingly widespread, mainly because of loopholes in the law. For example, in most instances, companies that hire H-1B workers are not required to recruit Americans before hiring from overseas. Similarly, companies are able to skirt the rules for using H-1B workers by outsourcing the actual hiring of those workers to Tata, Infosys and other temporary staffing firms, mostly based in India.
Criticism of the visa process has been muted, and reform has moved slowly, partly because laid-off American workers — mostly tech employees replaced by Indian guest workers — have not loudly protested. Their reticence does not mean acceptance or even resignation. As explained in The Times on Sunday by Julia Preston, most of the displaced workers had to sign agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers as a condition of receiving severance pay. The gag orders have largely silenced the laid-off employees, while allowing the employers to publicly defend their actions as legal, which is technically accurate, given the loopholes in the law.
The conversation, however, is changing. Fourteen former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship. Tech workers from Disney have filed federal lawsuits accusing the company and two global outsourcing firms of colluding to supplant Americans with H-1B workers. Former employees of Eversource Energy have also begun to challenge their severance-related gag orders by publicly discussing their dismissals and replacement by foreign workers on H-1B and other visas.
Congressional leaders of both parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements. Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would revise visa laws to allow former employees to protest their layoffs. Beyond that, what Congress really needs to do is close the loopholes that allow H-1B abuses.
New U.S. government data on H-1B visas prove that IT outsourcers hire a lot but pay very little – August 1, 2017
U.S. law allows low H-1B wages; just look at Apple – May 16, 2017
President Trump to order review of H-1B visa program to encourage hiring Americans – April 18, 2017
Tech industry frets over possible H-1B visa program changes under President Trump – January 28, 2017
President Trump eyes an H-1B visa aimed at ‘best and brightest’ – January 27, 2017
Silicon Valley chiefs frozen out of President Trump’s White House – December 3, 2016
Silicon Valley uncertain after Donald Trump wins U.S. presidency – November 10, 2016
Silicon Valley donated 60 times more to Clinton than to Trump – November 7, 2016
99% of Silicon Valley’s political dollars are going to Hillary Clinton – October 25, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook and the rest of Silicon Valley throw big money at Clinton and pretty much bupkis at Trump – August 23, 2016
Donald Trump’s most unlikely supporter: Silicon Valley billionaire Pete Thiel – July 21, 2016
Tech investor Peter Thiel’s embrace of Donald Trump for U.S. President has Silicon Valley squirming – July 20, 2016
An open letter from Apple co-founder Woz, other techies on Donald Trump’s candidacy for U.S. President – July 14, 2016
Apple refuses to aid 2016 GOP presidential convention over Trump comments – June 18, 2016
Apple and Silicon Valley employees love Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump? Not so much – May 6, 2016