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3/26/2017 11:21 PM - Onward

Hero's and Villians

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3/25/2017 1:42 PM - Chandler

Money, Politics and Corruption

Money, Politics and Corruption

Is American government corrupt? Are corporations people? How can we reclaim government for the people?
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3/27/2017 4:03 PM - Hiyall

Banking, Traders and Financial Corruption

How deep are the crimes? Will anyone go to prison? Does Wall Street control our government?
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6/25/2016 10:16 AM - anonymous

Electricity Pricing and Markets

Does the conversion from regulated to free markets work? Who wins? Are these markets manipulated?
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7/30/2013 11:47 AM - libby

Fast and Furious

Did our justice department sell guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels, resulting in deaths several people in a plot to further gun control laws?
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8/9/2012 2:12 PM - NoSir


Jobs and the Economy

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3/25/2017 2:04 PM - Chandler

Oil and Gasoline

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9/17/2013 1:31 PM - Connelly

Income Inequality

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9/30/2015 9:29 AM - libby

Poverty in America

Do the rich get richer while the poor get poorer?
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2/7/2014 1:37 PM - libby

Welfare/Food Stamps

Should we have a social safety net? Is our's in humane or has it gone too far?
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2/3/2014 3:07 PM - anonymous

Housing Crisis

With more than 20% of American mortgages underwater, should government intervene?
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8/9/2012 10:00 AM - anonymous

Food Prices

Are your salary and wages keeping up? Have prices affected the way you eat?
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6/1/2013 12:54 PM - libby

Credit Availability

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9/12/2012 12:12 PM - Onward

Minimum Wage

Should we have a minimum wage? Should the current rate be raised? Will America lose more jobs?
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6/20/2013 3:00 PM - Chandler


Immigration Reform

Does the US have a shortage of skilled labor? Should illegal immigrate be granted citizenship
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2/22/2017 9:48 PM - Onward

Voter Registration and Fraud

Do Voter ID laws target fraud or intented to block certain voters?
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10/19/2014 1:36 AM - Cancun

Role of Government

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2/5/2014 1:00 AM - Cancun


Are Private Prisons Moral? Should Wall Street control Social Security? Should schools be managed "For-Profit"?
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8/7/2012 1:58 PM - anonymous

Taxes and Spending

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4/15/2015 12:27 PM - anonymous

Supreme Court

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9/18/2012 5:21 PM - anonymous

US Senate

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8/21/2012 10:06 AM - Hiyall

US House

Is the House the protector of American democracy -- or its bain? Will the Republican majority be overturned?
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1/4/2013 4:31 PM - libby


Too much regulation or too little? Should fracking be exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act? Should we shift to natural gas?
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11/28/2012 5:59 PM - anonymous


Student Loans

How much is too much? A lifetime of debt? Discharge in bankruptcy?
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10/23/2013 10:17 AM - Cancun

Education, K-12

Is education a government responibility? Do we adequately funded? Should Public, Charter, Private and Religious Schools be funded?
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9/30/2013 3:02 PM - libby

Higher Education

Is college a good investment? Should the costs of higher education be subsidized?
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9/24/2013 11:57 AM - libby


Healthcare / ObamaCare

For or against? Help for the needy? Or new taxes on the middle-class? A sell-out to big insurance?
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6/16/2015 8:55 AM - anonymous

Obesity in America

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Prescription Drug Addiction

A rampant issue for America? What can or should be done?
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Legalization of Drugs

Should drugs be legalized? Or too risky to society? Is government legislating morality or keeping America safe?
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ADD / ADHD Medication

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Privacy and Domestic Spying

Is internet privacy an oxymoron? Does privacy exist? Can it be protected? What are the implications of lost privacy?
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2/10/2015 5:41 PM - Suzie

Propaganda and Media

Propaganda and Media
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4/5/2016 12:15 PM - Cancun


Are religion and evolution irreconcilable? Capital punishment? Private prisons verus profit motives? What else is on your mind?
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1/21/2014 5:19 PM - anonymous

Recent posts

3/27/2017 4:03:15 PM
H-1B: A good system gone bad

Posts: 77
H-1B: A good system gone bad
By Bart Perkins, Computer World, Mar 27, 2017

No one knows what the Trump administration will do about the H-1B visa program. Certainly it is in need of reform. Just as certainly, though, it needs to be retained. Visa holders admitted to the U.S. under an H-1B visa program with the right controls very much represent the type of immigration the U.S. should be encouraging.In 1990, when Congress expanded the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, it created the H-1B visa program. Its intention was to allow U.S. employers to hire foreign professionals when qualified Americans couldn’t be found. Visa holders must have a bachelor’s degree along with specialized knowledge and experience in information technology, chemistry, engineering, math, medicine or other occupations requiring specialized skills.

Difficulties with the H-1B visa are reminiscent of earlier immigration/isolationism issues. One man’s story highlights the challenges of immigration legislation. Qian Xuesen, born in Hangzhou, China, received a scholarship to MIT in 1935. After receiving his Ph.D. from Caltech, he joined the faculty there. During WWII, he was a key member of the Allies’ missile team working to counter Germany’s V-2 rocket and was also a member of the Manhattan Project. In 1949 he became the first director of Caltech’s jet propulsion laboratory.

On June 6, 1950, his security clearance was revoked as part of the Red Scare — even though he had left China 13 years before the Communists came to power. Placed under virtual house arrest, he decided to return to China but was not allowed to leave the U.S until 1955. Back in his native land, he became known as the father of the Chinese missile program and was a major contributor to China’s first successful test of a nuclear bomb on Oct. 16, 1964.

Although the H-1B visa had not yet been created, the Qian situation highlights some of the problems that plague the U.S. visa and immigration process. Even though he made significant contributions to the U.S. war effort, Qian was never able to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Worse, as a result of the indignities he suffered, the U.S. lost one of the world’s brightest scientific minds to one of our most competitive rivals. Former Navy Secretary Dan Kimball, who tried to keep Qian in the U.S., stated, “It was the stupidest thing this country ever did. He was no more a Communist than I was, and we forced him to go.”

Although the H-1B system was designed with good intentions and does help some companies acquire hard-to-find skills, the system is widely abused. Recently, The New York Times ran an article titled “Large Companies Game H-1B Visa Program, Costing the U.S. Jobs.” In 2011, the Government Accounting Office published a report called “H-1B Visa Program: Reforms Are Needed to Minimize the Risks and Costs of Current Program.” Today’s H-1B problems include the following:
  • U.S. workers are often replaced by lower-paid H-1B workers. A New York Times headline summarized this problem: “Pink Slips at Disney. But First, Training Foreign Replacements.” (On the national level, the story about Disney’s IT workers was broken by Computerworld’s Patrick Thibodeau.) Companies with large numbers of H-1B workers must assert that they will not replace U.S. workers. However, that requirement does not apply if the H-1B workers are paid more than $60,000 per year. Since IT is a relatively well-paid profession, it is rather straightforward to replace most IT staff with lower-paid H-1B holders.
  • Outsourcing firms dominate the H-1B visas awarded. The program was intended to allow firms to hire small numbers of people with specialized skills. Created in an era before widespread outsourcing, the program did not envision wholesale replacement of entire functions or departments. Unfortunately, in 2014, almost one-third of the H-1B visas were awarded to 13 outsourcing firms. Worse, seven India-based outsourcing firms received nearly 20% of the visas. This is ludicrous!
  • The program assists companies headquartered outside the U.S. The program was intended to help U.S. firms, not those based in other countries. Unfortunately, the regulation allows any company with a U.S. tax ID to apply for an H-1B visa. This permits firms headquartered in other countries to create U.S. subsidiaries to submit the H-1B paperwork. While this is perfectly legal, it does skirt the law’s purpose.
  • Few small firms are able to get H-1B visas. The New York Times identified multiple small firms unable to acquire H-1B visas. Mark Merklebach’s firm offers a good case study. The firm, Green Earth Operations, was unable to acquire visas for Mandarin-speaking engineers and landscapers to work in Seattle. These individuals would have worked on a variety of green projects in China, including rehabilitating lakes and rivers, creating wetlands, better managing urban flooding, and improving water quality. When the firm was unable to get the visas, the jobs were moved to Taiwan.
    Job losses like these damage the U.S. economy. In addition to paying U.S. taxes, the Mandarin speakers, would have made it possible for non-Mandarin speaking, American engineers to assist with projects in China.
  • Many H-1B employees are treated unfairly. Many are forced to work significantly more than 40 hours per week without overtime. Those who complain are threatened with dismissal. Both employee and employer know that without a job, the H-1B visa holder has to leave the country. Worse, if the employee is attempting to get a green card, that employee will have to restart the entire process after finding a new job. Searching for “H-1B visa holders treated unfairly” shows blogs discussing various types of abuse. Even more telling, the search reveals a number of lawyers advising persons holding H-1B visas to “know your rights.”
  • Some H-1B visa holders lack advertised credentials and associated skills. Searching for “H-1B visa fraud” produces thousands of results. Some people have been fined or jailed for creating fake college degrees or inflating experience.
Immigrants make a significant contribution to our economy. Over 10% of the 2016 Forbes 400 were born outside of the U.S. In describing the 2016 Forbes 400, the magazine noted, “The very act of immigrating is entrepreneurial, a self-selecting risk taken in an effort to better one’s circumstances.” And many do. As a boy, my father-in-law spent several years in a postwar European refugee camp before coming to the U.S., where he attended college and became a well-respected physician.

In the short term, the government should do some simple things to improve the program. It should increase the price of acquiring an H-1B visa from approximately $3,000 to $50,000, thereby making salary arbitrage more difficult. It should eliminate the $60,000 salary limit for asserting that no American lost a job to a H-1B visa holder. H-1B visas should only be granted to firms headquartered in the U.S. and not to foreign subsidiaries holding a U.S. tax ID. The number of H-1B visas granted to any firm should be limited. Finally, H-1B visa holders who lose their jobs without cause should be given additional time to find another job before being forced to leave the country.

As an American IT professional, I want to see H-1B visa abuse stopped. The H-1B is only one of many problematic visas, but it clearly illustrates problems with current immigration legislation. I hope that Congress will reform immigration law in ways that better support IT professionals, IT organizations and IT companies. Write to your congressperson before you are also replaced by an H-1B visa holder!

Link to Source
3/26/2017 11:21:55 PM
H-1B reform promises hang by a thread

Posts: 297
H-1B reform promises hang by a thread
By Caroline Craig, InfoWorld | Mar 24, 2017

This year's deadline for H-1B applications is fast approaching, and without action to fix this boondoggle that is being exploited by outsourcers, thousands more American jobs will be lost. However, the H-1B reform possibilities that a few short weeks ago shone brightly are now dimming as the Trump Administration backpedals from earlier bombast.

“The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay,” presidential candidate Donald Trump said in a statement last spring. “I will end forever the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.”

But there has been no action and few words from President Trump on the issue of H-1B since taking office. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says only that the matter is being reviewed as part of a larger overhaul of immigration policies.

Meanwhile, Republican Hindu Coalition President Shalabh Kumar—one of the top donors to Trump’s presidential campaign—is reassuring Indian businesses that the administration has no plans to come out with an executive order on H-1B visas. “There will be a need of more H-1B visas. The number of people on H-1B from India is certainly going to increase,” Kumar told reporters at a news conference in India.

Those reassurances were echoed yesterday by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who told Indian IT professionals they had no reason to worry about H-1B visa reform. “Currently there are four bills in the U.S. Congress about curbs on H-1B visas. We are engaged [in a dialog] with the U.S. at a very high level regarding this... We are making all efforts [through diplomatic channels] to ensure these bills are not passed,” Swaraj said.

Some in Congress, like Republican Senator Thom Tillis, espouse the need for more H-1B visa workers. “We need [Indian] talent to come in and fill these [high-tech] jobs if we want to continue to be the leader in innovation and in research” because there aren't enough American STEM workers to meet demand, Tillis said last week at an event organized by the U.S.-India Friendship Council and U.S.-India Business Council.

But many doubt the myth of a STEM worker shortage, and the idea that the H-1B program needs fixing has gained bipartisan support among others in Congress. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley took the president to task on Sunday. After a “60 Minutes” report that focused on American workers who’ve had to train their H-1B-holding replacements before losing their jobs, Grassley tweeted: “If u just saw CBS 60minutes abt ripoff H1B visa program is replacing AmWorkers u shld know my/Durbin bill will correct this injustice.” Grassley continued: "@POTUS In other words I've been waiting for six yrs for a president interested in fixing H1B and that person has finally arrived/DRAIN SWAMP."

The bill he referenced is one Grassley co-sponsored with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin, who over the years has repeatedly introduced legislation to fix the program. Durbin earlier this month sent a letter to President Trump:
I am disappointed that you have broken your campaign promise to take action on the first day of your Administration to reform foreign guest worker visas – especially the H-1B visa – to put American workers first.

The American people deserve an explanation for your decision not to pursue H-1B reforms on your first day in office. Commentators have pointed out that companies you own have sought to import at least 1,000 foreign guest workers while turning away hundreds of qualified American workers. I note with concern that in recent weeks one of your largest campaign donors has promised that you will not crack down on H-1B abuses and instead will seek to increase the number of H-1B visas granted each year.

If you do not take action in the next few weeks, outsourcers will secure the right to import tens of thousands of low-wage foreign guest workers to replace American workers. This is in addition to hundreds of thousands of H-1B workers who are already employed by outsourcing companies in the United States.
Time is running short. The first week in April, 85,000 more H-1B visas become available. Most will not go to American tech companies; Indian outsourcers got nearly 70 percent of H-1B visas issued in fiscal year 2015, according to data collected by Ron Hira, Howard University professor of public policy, using FOIA requests. Tata alone received 5,650 H-1Bs in 2014, while Amazon—the largest recipient among U.S. tech companies—got 877.

The question now: Will the president fulfill his campaign promise? His first two months in office, Trump signed 38 executive orders. What are the odds he’ll pull out that pen again and protect American jobs from being outsourced to cheap foreign labor?

Link to Source
edited by Onward on 3/26/2017
3/25/2017 2:04:10 PM
San Jose and Oakland area job markets tumble

Posts: 370
San Jose and Oakland area job markets tumble
By George Avalos, Mercury News, March 25, 2017

Santa Clara County and the East Bay suffered their worst two-month stretch of job losses since the Great Recession during January and February, state jobs data showed Friday, raising questions about the region’s economic strength.

The technology industry, which has long fueled the Bay Area’s economy, has begun to shed jobs after showing slower growth throughout much of 2016. High-tech companies slashed 2,700 jobs in the Bay Area last month, according to an analysis by Beacon Economics and the UC Riverside Business School of state job numbers.

“The Bay Area’s job-growth engine, Silicon Valley, slipped a gear in February,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist with San Francisco-based Bank of the West.

Santa Clara County lost 5,700 jobs in February, and it shed 8,100 jobs over the first two months of 2017 — its worst such stretch of job losses since June-July 2009, according to seasonally adjusted numbers from the Employment Development Department.

Those losses contributed to the Bay Area as a whole losing 4,400 jobs in February and 8,600 jobs in the first two months of the year — its worst two-month stretch since June-July 2010.

The downturn comes after the Bay Area logged job growth of just 2.7 percent in 2016, the first time this region failed to top 3 percent growth in five years.

Some experts suggested the Bay Area’s slump in venture capital funding has contributed to the sluggish job trends in the region’s tech sector. During 2016, the VC sector provided $24.9 billion in financing, down 27.6 percent from the $34.4 billion in venture investing in 2015, according to the MoneyTree Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers and CB Insights.

“We are living in a hope-and-pray environment in tech,” said Trip Chowdhry, managing director with Global Equities Research. “Investors are seeing the problems with a lot of these tech companies. And at some point, tech companies have to cut jobs.”

The East Bay — Alameda and Contra Costa counties — shed 2,400 jobs last month and lost 5,600 jobs in the first two months of the year, its worst two-month stretch since July-August, 2009.

The San Francisco-San Mateo County region added a scant 900 jobs last month.

“It’s been a long time since I called a Bay Area jobs report ‘ugly’, but this one is ugly,” said Jeffrey Michael, director of the Stockton-based Center for Business and Policy Research at University of the Pacific.

The South Bay’s weakest industries last month were retail, which lost 1,600 jobs; tech which lost 1,300; wholesale trade, which eliminated 1,200 positions; and administrative support, which lost 1,100 jobs.

The East Bay lost 1,200 hotel and restaurant jobs, 800 manufacturing jobs and 800 administrative support jobs. Tech employers added 100 jobs in that area. Wholesale trade was the East Bay’s strongest industry in February, adding 900 jobs.

The San Francisco-San Mateo region lost 1,700 tech jobs, but it also gained 2,200 hotel and restaurant jobs.

In Silicon Valley, some workers have expressed frustration that tech companies want to assess them through contract positions before awarding job candidates a full-time gig.

“Right now it’s tough to find a job in I.T.,” said Steve Satariano, a San Jose resident who has been working in contracted, temporary information technology jobs in recent years. “I’d prefer to find a full-time, permanent job, but in I.T.,
beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a little frustrating because tech companies always want to try before they buy.”

Other tech job seekers, despite the robust hiring trends of recent years, said they believe the availability of foreign workers through the H-1B visa program diminishes their chances of finding full-time tech work.

“My feeling is tech companies prefer younger and less expensive employees, and a lot of times that means immigrants,” said Nick Longo, a Berkeley resident and software worker. “I still can’t get a permanent job. It just seems easier for tech companies to hire people through the H-1B visa system.”

The Trump administration, however, has announced it will suspend fast-tracking of H-1B visas.

Global Equities Research’s Chowdhry believes the squeeze on the region’s tech sector is only beginning.

“Silicon Valley is bracing itself for literally a repeat of 2001,” Chowdhry said, referring to the dot-com meltdown that erupted with mammoth job losses that year. “This time it’s a social media bubble that will blow up.”

Other experts, however, said the Bay Area’s overall economy remains in good shape, despite the struggles in February.

“The sky is not falling by any means,” said Robert Kleinhenz, executive director of economic research with Beacon Economics. “Unemployment rates throughout the Bay Area are among the lowest in the state. Almost anywhere else in the country, the Bay Area’s job trends would be the envy of that region.”

The Bay Area’s job-market weakness in February contrasted sharply with a sturdy performance in the rest of California.

Employers added 22,900 jobs in California during February, improving the jobless rate to 5 percent for the first time in 10 years.

Link to Source
3/25/2017 1:42:56 PM
Silicon Valley staffing firm charged in visa fraud

Posts: 370
Owner of Silicon Valley staffing firm charged in visa fraud

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- The owner of a company that supplied foreign workers to San Francisco Bay Area technology companies is facing visa fraud charges after filing fake documents to bring people to the United States, the U.S Attorney's Office announced Friday.

A federal grand jury indicted Jayavel Murugan, CEO of Dynasoft Synergy, Inc., and a second man, Syed Nawaz, on Thursday on charges including conspiracy to commit visa fraud.

The men obtained H-1B visas for more than a dozen people by claiming the workers had jobs at Stanford University, Cisco Systems and Brocade Communications Systems, according to the indictment. No such jobs existed, but Dynasoft could use the fraudulently obtained H1B visas to get the workers to the U.S., where it could place them with other companies and profit, prosecutors said.

Bala Murali, Dynasoft's chief operating officer, said Nawaz was not available.

Murugan said he did not know about the indictment and was "shocked." He said he needed to consult with his attorney and did not immediately have additional comment.

Link to Source
2/22/2017 9:48:36 PM
H-1B visa: Gateway to outsource jobs

Posts: 297
H-1B visa: Gateway to outsource San Francisco jobs
By Jaya Padmanabhan on February 22, 2017

In November 2016, UC San Francisco released a media statement explaining that it had entered into a contract with HCL, an Indian software/outsourcing company, “for specified IT services, a move that will save the university more than $30 million over five years and allow it to meet sharply increased demands for IT capacity and strength …” UCSF indicated that 49 IT career positions were to be terminated, amounting to 8 percent of UCSF’s workforce. Another 48 contract positions were also to be eliminated.

By the end of February, close to 100 San Francisco jobs will be moving to India. This is not the end of it. PG&E also announced the California utility company will be sending 70 IT jobs to India via Tata Consultancy, another Indian outsourcing company.

Hank Nguyen is a casualty of UCSF’s decision. Nguyen was interviewed by Sam Harnett on KQED.org, where he beseeched, “How can they do this to us?”Nguyen arrived in America in 1981 and taught himself the skills required to work on IT servers. His daughter enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, intending to follow in her father’s footsteps in the tech industry, with a degree in computer science. However, as Harnett reports, two letters arrived last July. “The first was the tuition bill from Santa Cruz,” he said. “The second was a layoff notice from UCSF.”

The outsourcing of local jobs to India and other countries is a surefire way companies can lower costs and increase profits. An admirable capitalistic goal, no doubt, but what of the social impact?

Claims of discrimination

On Nov. 14, 2016, upon receiving notice of termination, a group of nine employees who were laid off — Robert Harrison, Kurt Ho, Audrey Hatten-Milholin, Brian Joyner, Leland Lam, Jason Macatangay, Emerson Mendoza, Vinny Tateo and Nancy Toth — brought a complaint against UCSF to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, alleging the university “discriminated against them based on their national origin, age, sex, and/or race.”

The complaint notes they were forced to train their “significantly younger, male HCL replacements, who will then perform the work overseas.”

It is more than likely that several HCL replacements for UCSF came to the United States to be trained on an H-1B visa. The H-1B visa is the gateway through which American jobs are shipped abroad. That’s why it’s often referred to as the outsourcing visa.

This is for three reasons: An H-1B worker is paid less than a U.S. worker by outsourcing companies; the H-1B worker is encouraged to learn the job and revert back to the home country, taking the job with him; and outsourcing companies have commandeered the market for H-1Bs.

Low wages and flooding

A fascinating study of numbers on Myvisajobs.com reveals that between 2014 and 2016, Twitter filed for 934 labor condition applications for H-1B visas, Facebook filed for 2,959, Microsoft for 13,354, HCL America for 15,791, Tata Consultancy for 43,794 and Infosys for 82,506. The latter three are Indian companies.

Ostensibly, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft are using the H-1B visa to hire the people they need. But HCL, Tata and Infosys predict a market need, flood the system with petitions and fill positions from India to fulfill their predictions. By 2001, India was the largest source of H-1B petitions.

In fiscal year 2016, the average salary for an H-1B at Infosys was $81,705; at HCL, it was $84,040. In contrast, at Google the average H-1B salary was $129,997, and at Amazon $121,850.

It’s no secret that more than half of the H-1B visas go to outsourcing companies. Back in 2015, Fusion.net reported that “while the law might prevent a company from directly replacing workers with immigrants on temporary employment visas, it doesn’t prevent companies from outsourcing their services to a third party, such as Infosys.”

Hiring in America

Interestingly, Infosys co-founder Narayan Murthy told the press recently that Indian IT software companies must stop recruiting people on H-1B visas from India and to focus on local hiring in the United States — sage advice from the founder of a company that has largely profited from the H-1B visa program.

But Murthy is right, our businesses must hire H-1B workers from our own schools and colleges, first. And I’m not entirely convinced we have a shortage of graduates.

According to a Pew Research study, in the year 2013-14, there were more than 179,000 international students graduating with degrees in math, computer science or engineering — more than double the H-1B visa quota of 85,000 (including 20,000 for postgraduates).

Since the H-1B system has been flooded by outsourcing companies that find it advantageous to hire tech workers from overseas who are willing to work for much less than the going rate, there seems to be a perception of H-1B shortage here in America.

Yet, I believe we do have enough graduates to satisfy our current H-1B quota of 85,000 right here in the U.S. If we have the need, we also have the people, people that our schools and colleges have trained.

Link to Source
2/18/2017 4:15:04 PM
Why Extreme Inequality Causes Economic Collapse

Posts: 370
Why Extreme Inequality Causes Economic Collapse
by Yves Smith, Naked Capitalism

Yves here. Evonomics made this comment at the end of Sally Goerner’s post:

John Fullerton’s white paper, Regenerative Capitalism, lists eight principles critical to systemic economic health. The Capital Institute’s research group, RARE[1], uses recent scientific advances – specifically, the physics of flow[2]– to create a logical and measurable explanation of how these principles work to make or break vitality in the human networks of which economies are built.

I hate to come off like a nay-sayer, because I have no doubt that the underlying methodology is useful. But this sounds an awful lot like a new improved version of system dynamics, which the economics profession successfully beat back in the 1970s. As we discussed long form in ECONNED, orthodox economics rests on the assumption that economies have a natural propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is full employment. As Paul Samuelson stressed, that assumption is necessary for economics to be science, as in mathed up, and the dominance that economists have achieved is due to their scientific appearances and the fact that their mathematical exposition enables them to dismiss lay critics.

Thus any analytical method, like systems dynamics or “the physics of flow” that allow for positive feedback loops (as in self-reinforcing instability) must be aggressively rejected by economists as a threat to their standing and rice bowls.

Having said that, I wish this post did not start with the Oxfam report, which suffers from serious methodological flaws. It’s not hard to make the case that wealth concentration is only getting worse, and there is solid work by people who have been tracking this trend over decades, such as Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty (Gabriel Zuc is a rising star on this beat; in fairness, the article does include some Piketty and Saez data further down). There’s no need to overegg the pudding.

By Dr. Sally J. Goerner, Capital Institute’s science advisor, and director of the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics (“RARE”). She is exploring the scientific foundation for regenerative organizations, financial systems, and economies. Originally published at Capital Institute; cross posted from Evonomics

According to a recent study by Oxfam International, in 2010 the top 388 richest people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population– a whopping 3.6 billion people. By 2014, this number was down to 85 people. Oxfam claims that, if this trend continues, by the end of 2016 the top 1% will own more wealth than everyone else in the world combined. At the same time, according to Oxfam, the extremely wealthy are also extremely efficient in dodging taxes, now hiding an estimated $7.6 trillion in offshore tax-havens.[3]

Why should we care about such gross economic inequality?[4] After all, isn’t it natural? The science of flow says: yes, some degree of inequality is natural, but extreme inequality violates two core principles of systemic health: circulation and balance.

Circulation represents the lifeblood of all flow-systems, be they economies, ecosystems, or living organisms. In living organisms, poor circulation of blood causes necrosis that can kill. In the biosphere, poor circulation of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc. strangles life and would cause every living system, from bacteria to the biosphere, to collapse. Similarly, poor circulation of money, goods, resources, and services leads to economic necrosis – the dying off of large swaths of economic tissue that ultimately undermines the health of the economy as a whole.

In flow systems, balance is not simply a nice way to be, but a set of complementary factors – such as big and little; efficiency and resilience; flexibility and constraint – whose optimal balance is critical to maintaining circulation across scales. For example, the familiar branching structure seen in lungs, trees, circulatory systems, river deltas, and banking systems (Fig. 1) connects a geometrically constant ratio of a few large, a few more medium-sized, and a great many small entities. This arrangement, which mathematicians call a fractal, is extremely common because it’s particular balance of small, medium, and large helps optimize circulation across different levels of the whole. Just as too many large animals and too few small ones creates an unstable ecosystem, so financial systems with too many big banks and too few small ones tend towards poor circulation, poor health, and high instability.

In his documentary film, Inequality for All, Robert Reich uses virtuous cycles to clarify how robust circulation of money serves systemic health. In virtuous cycles, each step of money movement makes things better. For example, when wages go up, workers have more money to buy things, which should increase demand, expand the economy, stimulate hiring, and boost tax revenues. In theory, government will then spend more money on education which will increase worker skills, productivity and hopefully wages. This stimulates even more circulation, which starts the virtuous cycle over again. In flow terms, all of this represents robust constructive flow, the kind that develops human and network capital and enhances well-being for all.

Of course, economies also sometimes exhibit vicious cycles, in which weaker circulation makes everything go downhill – i.e., falling wages, consumption, demand, hiring, tax revenues, government spending, etc. These are destructive flows, ones that erode system health.

Both vicious and virtuous cycles have occurred in various economies at various times and under various economic theories and policy pressures. But, for the last 30 years, the global economy in general and the American economy in particular has witnessed a strange combination pattern in which prosperity is booming for CEOs and Wall Street speculators, while the rest of the economy – particularly workers, the middle class, and small businesses – have undergone a particularly vicious cycle. Productivity has grown massively, but wages have stagnated. Consumption has remained reasonably high because, in an effort to maintain their standard of living, working people have: 1) added hours, becoming two-income families, often with two and even three jobs per person; and 2) increased household debt. Inequality has skyrocketed because effective tax rates on the 1% have dropped (notwithstanding a partial reversal under Obama), while their income and profits have risen steeply.

We should care about this kind of inequality because history shows that too much concentration of wealth at the top, and too much stagnation everywhere else indicate an economy nearing collapse. For example, as Reich shows (Figure 1a & b), both the crashes of 1928 and 2007 followed on the heels of peaks in which the top 1% owned 25% of the country’s total wealth.

Fig. 3a Income Share of U.S. Top 1% (Reich, 2013) & 3b Reich notes that the two peaks look like a suspension bridge, with highs followed by precipitous drops. (Original Source: Piketty & Saez, 2003)

What accounts for this strange mix of increasing concentration at the top and increasing malaise everywhere else? Putting aside the parallels to 1929 for a moment, most common explanations for today’s situation include: the rise of technology which makes many jobs obsolete; and globalization which puts incredible pressures on companies to lower wages and outsource jobs to compete against low-wage workers around the world.

But, while technology and globalization are clearly creating transformative pressures, neither of these factors completely explains our current situation. Yes, technology makes many jobs obsolete, but it also creates many new jobs. Yet, where the German, South Korean and Norwegian governments invest in educating their workforce to fill those new jobs, the American government has been cutting back on education for decades. A similar thought holds for globalization. Yes, high-volume industrialism – that is, head-to-head competition over price of mass-produced, uniform goods – leads to a race to the bottom; that’s been known for a long time. But in The Work of Nations (2010), Robert Reich also points out that the companies that are flourishing through globalization and technology are ones pursuing what he calls high-value capitalism, the high-quality customization of goods and services that can’t be duplicated by mass-produced uniformity at cheap places around the world.

So, while the impacts of globalization and technology are profound, the real explanation for inequality lies primarily with an economic belief that, intentionally or not, serves to concentrate wealth at the top by extracting it from everywhere else. This belief system is called variously neoliberalism, Reaganomics, the Chicago School, and trickle-down economics. It is easily recognized by its signature ideas: deregulation; privatization; cut taxes on the rich; roll back environmental protections; eliminate unions; and impose austerity on the public. The idea was that liberating market forces would cause a rising tide that lifted all boats, but the only boat that actually rose was that of the .01%. Meanwhile, instability has grown.

The impact this belief system has had on the American economy and its capacities can be seen in American education. Trickle-down theories are all about cutting taxes on the wealthy, which means less money for public education, more young people burdened with huge college debt, and fewer American workers who can fill the new high-tech jobs.

To be fair, this process is not just about greed. Most of the people who participate in this economic debacle do not realize its danger because they believed what they were told by the saints and sages of economics, and many are rewarded for following its principles. So, what really causes the kind of inequality that drives economies toward collapse? The basic answer from the science of flow is: economic necrosis. But, let me flesh out the story.

Institutional economists talk about two main types of economic strategies: extractive and solution-seeking. (Hopefully, these names are self-explanatory.) Most economies contain both. But, if the extractive forces become too powerful, they begin to use their power to rig the rules of the economic game to favor themselves. This creates what scientists call a positive feedback loop, one in which “the more you have, the more you get.” Seen in many kinds of systems, this loop creates a powerful pull that sucks resources to the top, and drains it away from the rest of the system causing necrosis. For example, chemical runoff into the Gulf of Mexico accelerates algae growth. This creates an escalating, “the more you have, the more you get” process, in which massive algae growth sucks up all the oxygen in the surrounding area, killing all of the nearby sea life (fish, shrimp, etc.) and creating a large “dead zone.”

Neoliberal economics set up a parallel situation by allowing the wealthy to use their money to extract ever more money from the overall economy. The uber-wealthy grow wealthier by:
    Paying for policy favors – big corporate bailouts and subsidies; lobbying; etc.Removing constraints on dangerous behavior – removing environmental protections; not prosecuting financial fraud offenders; ending Glass-Steagall, etc.Increasing the public’s vulnerability – increasing monopolistic power by diminishing antitrust regulations; limiting the public’s ability to sue big corporations; limiting Medicare’s ability to negotiate for lower pharmaceutical rates; limiting bankruptcy for student loans, etc.Increasing their own intake – rising CEO salaries and escalating Wall Street gambling; and limiting their own outflows – externalizing costs, cutting worker wages and lowering their own taxes.
All of these processes help the already rich concentrate more, and circulate less. In flow terms, therefore, gross inequality indicates a system that has: 1) too much concentration and too little circulation; and 2) an imbalance of wealth and power that is likely to create ever more extraction, concentration, unaccountability, and abuse. This process accelerates until the underlying human network becomes exhausted and/or the ongoing necrosis reaches a point of collapse. When this point is reached, the society will have three choices: learn, regress, or collapse.

What then shall we do? Obviously, we need to improve our “solution seeking” behavior in realms from business and finance to politics and media. Much of this is already taking place. From socially-responsible business and alternative forms of ownership, to democratic reform groups, alternative media, and the new economy movement – reforms are arising on all sides.

But, the solutions we need are also often blocked by the forces we are trying to overcome, and impeded by the massive merry-go-round momentum of “business as usual.” Today’s reforms also lack power because they are taking place piecemeal, in a million separate spots with very little cross-group unity.

How do we overcome these obstacles? The science of flow offers not so much a specific strategy, as an empowering change of perspective. In essence, it provides a more effective way to think about the processes we see every day.

The dynamics explained above are very well known; they are basic physics, just like the law of gravity. Applying them to today’s economic debates can be extremely helpful because the latter have devolved into ideological debates devoid of any scientific foundation.

We believe Regenerative Economics can provide a unifying framework capable of galvanizing a wide array of reform groups by clarifying the picture of what makes societies healthy. But, this framework will only serve if it is backed by accurate theory and effective measures and practice. This soundness is part of what Capital Institute and RARE are trying to develop.

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2/18/2017 11:40:39 AM
Study:H-1B Reduced Computer Programmer Employment

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Study: H-1B Visas Reduced Computer Programmer Employment by Up to 11%
by Lucas Nolan, Breitbart.com, 14 Feb 20170

The report, by John Bound and Nicolas Morales of the University of Michigan and Gaurav Khanna of the University of California, San Diego, studied the economy between 1994 and 2001, known as the Internet boom era. This period was also the time when H-1B labor was close to its cap, before the start of the IT sector in India. The study states that in 2001, the number of US computer scientists was between 6.1% and 10.8% lower than it is now and that wages were between 2.6% and 5.1% lower.

The report description reads, “Over the 1990s, the share of foreigners entering the US high-skill workforce grew rapidly. This migration potentially had a significant effect on US workers, consumers and firms. To study these effects, we construct a general equilibrium model of the US economy and calibrate it using data from 1994 to 2001.”

Silicon Valley companies have benefited from the use of H-1B visas for some time. The Trump administration has many tech companies on edge as rumors of an executive order aimed to stop the H-1B visas surfaced last month. Bloomberg Technology reported in January that the Trump administration had drafted a new executive order reportedly aimed at tightening and re-working the H-1B visa system, which is used by many Silicon Valley tech companies to hire workers from overseas.

The use of H-1B visas has been a subject of debate for some time, as many believe that the overuse of these visas has lead to white collar Americans being pushed out of the workforce. In some cases, former American employees were forced to train the H-1B visa workers that would be replacing them.

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2/18/2017 11:35:40 AM
Indian American convicted for H-1B visa fraud

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Indian American convicted for H-1B visa fraud
The Indian Panorama

NEWARK, NJ (TIP): The 34-year-old Patel pleaded guilty before US District Judge Kevin McNulty in Newark federal court. Patel worked to fraudulently obtain visas for foreign workers visas. She recruited workers through two Information Technology (IT) firms in New Jersey. However, these workers were not employed full time or paid according to federal rules, PTI reported.

Patel, who is from Jersey City, was the human resource manager of the IT companies SCM Data Inc and MMC Systems Inc. The companies offered consultants to clients in need of IT support, and recruited foreign nationals, often student visa holders or fresh graduates.

She admitted her involvement in preparing false leave slips for the foreign workers on behalf of the companies in February and March 2015. Patel’s conspirators represented that the foreign workers they recruited had full-time positions and were paid an annual salary. They showed compliance with the visa requirements as laid by the US Department of Homeland Security, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the news agency reported.

In reality, however, the conspirators violated the H-1B program rules and paid the foreign workers only when they were place at a third-party client who entered into a contract with SCM Data and MMC Systems.

They also asked foreign workers, who were not currently working, to come up with what their gross wage would be in cash and give it to companies in order to maintain their H-1B visa status. They also made the workers submit bogus payroll checks to USCIS as proof that they were working as full-time employees. The fraud was discovered by the US Department of Labor in an audit at SCM data and MMC Systems.

The conspiracy to commit visa fraud charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Patel faces sentence in June, 2017.

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2/14/2017 7:30:30 AM
The Trouble With Trade: People Understand It

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The Trouble With Trade: People Understand It

By Dean Baker , 02/13/2017

Ever since Donald Trump was elected there has been a huge backlash among elite-types against those blaming trade for their problems. Major news outlets have been filled with misleading and dishonest stories claiming that the real cause of manufacturing job loss has been automation and that people are stupid to worry about trade.

In fact, people are exactly right to be concerned about the impact of our trade policies on their living standards. It is the fact that people are right that is worrying our elites. Trade is just one of the areas in which politicians of both parties have promoted policies to redistribute income upward. It just happens to be the area in which the impact is most recognizable and therefore people have mounted an effective resistance.

The story with trade is simple. When a manufacturing worker in the U.S. is placed in direct competition with a worker in Mexico, China, or some other developing country, who earns one-tenth of their pay, it puts downward pressure on their wages. Either their jobs go away or they are forced to take substantial pay cuts to keep their job.

This competition has cost a huge number of manufacturing jobs in this century. It has also put downward pressure directly on the wages of manufacturing workers and indirectly on the wages of less-educated workers more generally, as displaced manufacturing workers sought jobs in other sectors.

In the case of trade, the public is onto the game. And elites are doubling down to hide the truth. Elite media types have tried to deny these facts by claiming that the source of job loss is automation (i.e. productivity growth), not trade. This claim deserves to be met with the same sort of derision as the claims of climate change deniers.

The data are very clear. From December of 1970 to December of 2000 we lost 130,000 manufacturing jobs, less than one percent of the total. There was plenty of productivity growth in manufacturing over these three decades. While manufacturing employment did fall as a share of total employment, there was little change in the absolute number of manufacturing jobs over this long period.

By contrast, manufacturing employment dropped by more than 3.4 million, or more than 20 percent, in the seven years from 2000 to 2007. This was trade. The trade deficit exploded over this period to almost 6.0 percent of GDP, which would be more than $1.1 trillion in today’s economy.

The people in the states hit the hardest like Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania are absolutely right to believe that trade has hurt them, their friends, and communities. The trade denialists would have us believe that if we had something close to balanced trade, we could produce another trillion dollars a year worth of manufactured goods without employing any workers. Sorry folks, that one does not pass the laugh test.

But denialists are right in saying that trade is far from the whole story. The elites have been pursuing policies in a variety of areas to redistribute income; the difference is that the policies are less visible in other areas.

For example, the Federal Reserve Board deliberately keeps the unemployment rate from falling too low in order to keep workers from gaining too much bargaining power. This is ostensibly a hedge against inflation, but the people who pay the price in this war on inflation are workers at the middle and bottom of the income distribution. It is worth noting in this respect that the champion inflation fighter was Paul Volcker who President Carter appointed as Fed Chair.

The leadership of both parties has supported stronger and longer patent and copyright protection. The Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi has a list price of $84,000, instead of the free market price of $200, because of its government granted monopoly. This protectionism transfers more than $350 billion a year ($2,500 for an average family) from the rest of us to the drug industry alone.

And the reason that CEOs can pocket tens of millions of dollars a year is a corrupt corporate governance structure that allows their friends who sit on their board of directors to determine their pay. It is incredible that supposed supporters of the free market fiercely resist reforms that would give shareholders - the owners of the company - more control over what they pay top management.

But these and other policy areas are where the rules have been rigged in ways that can be difficult for the public to understand. After all, most people have little or no knowledge of the Federal Reserve Board and monetary policy or the rules on corporate governance. They can see, however, their factory being shut down and moved to Mexico.

This explains the harsh reaction of elite types. In the case of trade, the public is onto the game. And elites are doubling down to hide the truth. Therefore we can expect to see a continuing flow of dishonest news stories and columns, mixed in with plenty of name-calling, all to discredit the truthful claim that trade has been a major factor undermining the living standards of the middle class.

The Trouble With Trade: People Understand It
1/13/2017 3:15:23 AM
IT staffing exec indicted in bribery, kickback

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Local IT staffing exec indicted in alleged bribery, kickback scheme
IBJ Staff

A Carmel man who leads a local IT consulting and staffing company has been indicted for allegedly participating in a bribery and kickback scheme with an accomplice who worked for a national health care charity based in New Jersey.

Dilip Vadlamudi, president and co-founder of Indianapolis-based Pyramid Technology Solutions Inc., and Nimesh Patel, former senior director of the information technology group at the national headquarters of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in Westchester, New Jersey, have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering.

The pair was indicted last month in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, New York, after a grand jury investigation.

“As alleged, the defendants conspired to defraud a national nonprofit organization,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York said in a written statement. “Patel allegedly abused his position at the nonprofit to funnel millions in fees to Vadlamudi’s company in exchange for hundreds of thousands in kickbacks. Thanks to the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the defendants’ alleged fraud scheme has been put to an end.”

Both men face three counts: one count each of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud; conspiring to violate the Travel Act; and conspiring to commit money laundering.

The wire fraud and money laundering counts each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The Travel Act count carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Both men were arrested last month and released on bond of $250,000. Both entered preliminary pleas of not guilty.

Vadlamudi ‘s attorney, Sharon Louise McCarthy, did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

According to the indictment, Patel, 45, used his position at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to hire workers from Vadlamudi’s firm. The society paid Vadlamudi’s company about $2.2 million for about 36 temporary IT workers from 2012 to 2014.

In return for the business, Vadlamudi, 45, funneled $274,000 in illegal kickbacks to Patel, the indictment alleges. Investigators say Vadlamudi made the payments from the bank account of an unnamed company he owns into an account of a shell company set up by Patel.

Patel used those funds to make an $80,000 downpayment on a residence, buy a life insurance policy and pay credit card bills, according to the indictment.

When the not-for-profit launched a probe into Patel’s activities in late 2014, he told investigators that he barely knew Vadlamudi and had little contact with him.

Investigators said they later uncovered nearly 800 emails the two exchanged from 2009 to 2014.

Pyramid Technology Solutions, 9535 E 59th St., was founded in 1998 and offers numerous IT-related services, including consulting, cloud and enterprise solutions, and temporary and permanent staffing. The firm reported revenue of $28 million in 2015.

The company is the 14th largest minority-owned business in the area, with 64 local full-time employees, according to IBJ research. Pyramid Technology said 90 percent of its local employees are minorities.

It ranked as the area's fourth-largest area employment agency in 2015, with 51 fulltime employment counselors; and as the 15th largest woman-owned business based on employment.

Owners are listed as Lavanya Kantamaneni and Lalitha Vadlamudi.

The firm also has offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, and development centers in Hyderabad and Vijayawada, India.

A 2014 story by The Indianapolis Star said Pyramid Technology had 170 workers companywide, with about 75 percent of them working under the H-1B visa program.

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12/28/2016 1:28:28 AM
Tracy man faces visa fraud charges

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Tracy man faces visa fraud charges

The Record

A Tracy man is scheduled to appear before a U.S. magistrate judge today after being indicted last week on 33 counts of visa fraud and identity theft.

A federal grand jury returned a 33-count indictment charging Abhijit Prasad, 49, with 31 counts of visa fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert said.

According to the indictment, Prasad filed 31 petitions for H-1B nonimmigrant visas containing false statements, made under penalty of perjury, as to purported work projects to be performed at various locations in California. The indictment further alleges that Prasad obtained two H-1B visas procured by fraud and false statements, and used the means of identification of a real person to effectuate his visa fraud scheme.

Prasad was arraigned on the indictment on Dec. 23 and released with conditions, including the surrender of his passport and a bond until a further detention hearing, authorities said.

If convicted, Prasad could face 10 years in prison on each visa fraud count, a two-year mandatory, consecutive sentence on the identity theft counts and up to $500,000 in fines, authorities said.

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12/20/2016 2:41:41 AM
U.S. Workers to Train Foreign Replacements

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Carnival Forces U.S. Workers to Train Foreign Replacements Before Christmas - Defund.com

Breitbart reports:Americans working at Carnival Corporation say the company’s Christmas gift to hundreds of its college-graduate employees was the news that they are being fired and must train their low-wage foreign replacements.
“I am still processing my emotions and my disbelief,” said Matthew Culver, a senior Miami-based IT worker with Carnival. “After twenty years in the industry, this is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. I never thought this could happen to me after so many years of experience, education, and hard work,” he told Breitbart News.
“On December 6, 2016, my coworkers and I were asked to attend a town hall meeting,” Culver explained, adding:
We were informed that 200 to 300 of our jobs were being terminated and we were offered jobs with an outsourcing company named Capgemini. Our last day with Carnival would be February 3rd. We are going to be training foreign workers inside and outside the United States to take over our jobs; then we are not guaranteed any future with Capgemini. The workers are in Florida, California and Washington State. We must decide by December 19th if we plan to train our foreign replacements and work with the outsourcing company in their goal of offshoring the jobs.
The jobs are being transferred because Carnival is outsourcing critical tasks to Capgemini, a French outsourcing firm. The firm has been known to exploit federal guest-worker programs by importing thousands of foreign workers, primarily from India, to work in U.S. jobs that likely would otherwise be filled by middle-class American college graduates.
While Carnival denies the workers’ allegations, the anti-American worker business model of outsourcing U.S. jobs to imported foreign labor has received growing media attention in recent years, and has taken place at companies such as Siemens, Disney, Fossil Inc., Southern California Edison, Xerox, Northeast Utilities, and Abbott Labs. The salary-slashing business model is made possible by federal cheap-labor outsourcing programs, which are strongly supported by Wall Street because they convert suburban white-collar salaries into investors’ capital gains.
Companies in the United States now employ roughly one million white-collar temporary foreign “guest workers.” That total includes at least 650,000 lower-wage graduates on H-1B visas.
In March of 2016, then-GOP candidate Donald J. Trump promised to protect Americans from guest worker programs: “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said. “No exceptions.”
“I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker,” the President-elect pledged in a recent two-minute video posted on YouTube outlining his plans for his first 100 days in office.
“Originally Carnival was a big family… I feel so deceived and unappreciated,” another worker, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the company, said in a statement to Breitbart. It’s “inhuman” and “illogical” for Carnival to now “outsource us to India,” the worker said.
The fact that this news “comes merely a few weeks before Christmas… makes the decision that much harder,” Culver added. “My coworkers are worried about their families, their health insurance and whether they will be able to find work after they train their foreign replacement. The atmosphere at work is extremely somber. I am stressed and worried and my coworkers feel the same.”
A spokesman for Carnival, Roger Frizzell, denied the workers’ claim that they are going to have to train their foreign replacements. “The company is transitioning its shore-side IT operations, maintenance and support in North America to an outside firm, Capgemini, to help the company keep pace with the evolving technology environment. All impacted individuals will become employees of Capgemini,” Frizzell told Breitbart in an emailed statement.
“Capgemini subject matter experts will be working closely with individuals to conduct operations assessments to understand how work is currently done and identify process improvements,” Frizzell added in a separate email. “Once knowledge transfer activities have been completed, Capgemini will look to implement new processes and procedures in order to increase standardization and efficiencies.”
Despite Carnival’s assurances that the workers’ claims are not correct, the workers and their legal representation maintain their charge against the corporation.
“Princess Cruise line was just in the news for illegally dumping oil in the ocean. I guess it should not be surprising that such a company would also dump their American workers for cheap foreign labor,” said attorney Sara Blackwell, whose organization, Protect US Workers, represents high-skilled American workers replaced by low-wage foreign workers.
Blackwell told Breitbart that several of the impacted American workers reached out to her, seeking help following Carnival’s alleged announcement.
“The workers are devastated, shocked and angry,” Blackwell said.
I met with several of them in Miami and participated in conference calls with workers in California. I watched mothers cry and one of the workers pleaded with me to find a way to help him save his job because he is the only income source and he needs to work for his wife and children. They were all scared to refuse to train their foreign replacement because they need to provide for their families but they all want to keep their jobs and they do not want to train the foreign workers. The American workers were told at a town hall meeting that virtually all of the jobs were going to India.
“The purpose of this decision is to lower labor costs by exploiting the workers in India,” Blackwell added. “The IT work of Carnival at the end of this business model will be conducted mostly by Indians in India with a wage that is repugnant and working conditions that are unacceptable and not permitted in the United States… As a result, American lives are destroyed and families will have a very different Christmas holiday than expected.”
Carnival denied Blackwell’s claim that the jobs will be going to foreign workers, yet Blackwell maintains that American employees:
…are being pressured to sign a document that says they will work for Capgemini, the outsourcing company that is offshoring the work and the company that needs their assistance to train the foreign workers for the offshoring of the jobs to be successful. This document must be signed by December 19th or the workers lose their jobs at Carnival and they do not have any opportunity for the extra months of work with Capgemini. The timing of this required decision is only six days prior to the Christmas holiday. That is an extra nail in the coffin for the hard working American worker and their families.
Breitbart News obtained an exclusive copy of company documents issued to its “transitioning employees.”
One document, titled “Frequently Asked Questions for Carnival Corporation Transitioning Employees,” details how the workers will have to “assist with knowledge transfer activities.”
“Knowledge Transfer” is generally the term used when U.S. workers are forced to train their replacements. Howard University professor Ron Hira has explained that the euphemism would be more accurate if it were called “knowledge extraction.”
The document also informed employees that “If you do not accept the job offer from Capgemini you will not receive severance.”
This is not the first time Carnival has been in the news for alleged ties to expansive guest worker programs.
A CNN report from January of this year documented how Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2013 Gang of Eight bill, which would have substantially increased the importation of foreign workers, included provisions that would, in particular, benefit cruise line operations. The report noted that Rubio’s chief negotiator for the bill was a corporate attorney who had previously represented the Carnival Corporation. According to Open Secrets, Carnival Corp was one of the top 50 contributors to Rubio’s campaign committee between 2009 and 2014.
Throughout his presidential campaign, President-elect Trump was able to distinguish himself from his competitors with his opposition to visa policies that would exacerbate the displacement of American workers.
Indeed, protecting American workers from visa “job theft” helped propel Trump to victory in both the general election and the Republican primary—where he attacked Rubio mercilessly as a “puppet” for enthusiastically championing expansionist immigration policies favored by his corporate donors.
In particular, Trump won the high-profile endorsements of some of Rubio’s own Florida constituents, former Disney IT workers who had been laid off by Disney by the hundreds and were forced to train their foreign replacements just before the holiday season in 2014.
“Americans are losing our jobs to foreigners and politicians are supporting and/or promoting this behavior,” said Deena Moore, a former Disney worker and Trump supporter, as she spoke at one of Trump’s Florida rallies ahead of the state’s primary. “I believe Mr. Trump is for Americans first and foremost. He shares our vision, our dreams, and will fight for our futures… here’s my mantra: stand up for Americans, stand up with a champion, stand up with Trump.”
Moore denounced Rubio as a “great disappointment” who “sabotaged Americans” through his support for corporate-backed legislation that would increase the guest worker visa programs. “Rubio’s staff said in 2013 explaining the [guest worker expansions in Gang of Eight] bill ‘American workers can’t cut it.’ Shame on you Marco Rubio,” Moore said at the time.
The messaging of Trump’s campaign on this issue helped him crush the young Florida senator in the state’s primary election by a massive double-digit margin—making Rubio’s loss one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of U.S. electoral politics.
Yet despite the role this issue played in Trump’s electoral success, new reports indicate that open borders corporatists want to convince Trump to abandon his winning message on pro-American worker immigration controls.
In a piece titled “How Cisco’s CEO plans to convince Trump to import more immigrants for US tech jobs,” Business Insider reports that Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins, whose company is reportedly one of the top 100 users of H-1B visas in the country, believes he can make the case for importing more foreign graduates to compete with American graduates for U.S. jobs.
Advocates for American wage earners have also expressed concern that Trump’s winning message on immigration controls may be co-opted by those being installed in key positions of his administration, such as Andy Puzder, who was recently tapped to be Trump’s Secretary of Labor– or by allowing mass migration enthusiast Congressman Paul Ryan to remain House Speaker.
Puzder, who has previously suggested that he prefers foreign laborers to native-born American workers, had previously been supportive of expansionist immigration policies. As immigration attorney Ian Smith has explained, Puzder has backed immigration proposals that would “have brought in millions of semi-skilled foreign guest-workers over the years, replacing our own professionals and crowding out our own graduates.”
In 2015, Puzder also joined forces with Disney CEO Bob Iger’s open borders lobbying firm, which advocates for legislation that would increase the importation of foreign workers. As the Center for Immigration Studes’ Mark Krikorian has explained, as Labor Secretary, Puzder would have a major role in regulating the admission of guest workers as well as helping ICE with worksite enforcement: “Labor is central to the process of certifying and importing all the various categories of guestworkers that undermine the bargaining power of American workers—H1-Bs for the tech industry, H-2As for agriculture, H-2Bs for non-ag cheap-labor employers, and more.”
Following a Breitbart report detailing Puzder’s record of support for importing foreign workers, Puzder issued a statement pledging to “fiercely defend American workers.”
“I will not provide guest worker visas to companies that break the rules, and will support reforms to raise wages for Americans,” Puzder wrote, adding that it would be his “moral and constitutional duty” as Labor Secretary to serve U.S. citizen workers and help communities with high unemployment that “benefit the most from clamping down on guest worker programs that compete against them.”
Perhaps less significantly, President-elect Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum is also stacked with CEOs who have a history of supporting increased foreign worker admissions, including Disney’s Bob Iger, who had supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and who oversaw the firing and replacement of the hundreds of American tech workers in late 2014.
The tension between Trump’s pro-American worker immigration platform and the desires of party elites, who support the donor class’s open borders agenda, may receive a national spotlight in the coming months—as the Wall Street Journal recently reported, “The business and populist wings of the Republican Party” are set for a divisive battle over the nation’s system of legal immigration.
The report notes that the issue of visa dispensations, like the issue of trade, is set to divide “the party’s business interests, represented by leaders such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and former Speaker John Boehner, [who] have backed higher visa totals” from the populist wing of the party, represented by Donald Trump and his supporters, who want to protect American jobs and wages from unfair competition.
12/2/2016 1:35:37 AM
Universities Fasttrack Foreign Students to US Jobs

Posts: 297
Universities Fast-track Foreign Students into 147,000 White-Collar U.S. Jobs
U.S. universities are rapidly increasing the number of fee-paying foreign students who are being fast-tracked into the professional jobs sought by American graduates.
by Justin Hagen, conservativedailyreview.com

In 2009, the universities helped 67,804 foreign graduates get white-collar jobs under the little-known Optional Practical Training program, which allows foreigners to get professional-grade jobs inside the United States for at least three years.By 2016, the universities worked with companies to get at least 147,498 foreign student customers into the white-collar jobs, according to the Institute of International Education, a New York-based group run by trustees from industry, education and Wall Street.

The OPT outsourcing program is great for the foreign students because it gets them a U.S. job for three years, and puts them on a track to win extremely valuable Green Cards and citizenship. It is great for employers because many OPT employees work for low salaries in the hope of eventually getting Green Cards — and also because the OPT employees are exempt from Social Security and Medicare taxes, unlike American employees.

The OPT system is also great for universities and colleges because it brings in more student customers from overseas, whose tuition fees greatly exceed the paperwork costs paid by universities to run the OPT program. That’s a big financial benefit for universities.

But the OPT guest-worker program is bad for the many ordinary American graduates who are being shut out of more than 100,000 jobs — and who also face increased lifetime competition from imported, lower-wage foreign professionals. Also, many U.S. graduates have difficulty in paying off their accumulated debt of $1.23 trillion.

Joseph Palos, a high-tech graduate from Cornell University, formally objected to the OPT program in 2015. ”Companies don’t want to hire Americans and they abuse… OPT to hire cheap immobile labor instead of hiring anyone over the age of 35, especially in software or tech areas,” he wrote to a federal agency, according to a report in ComputerWorld.

That’s a challenge for President-elect Donald Trump, who campaigned against work visas — such as the H-1B visa — that disadvantage Americans. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said in a March 2016 statement. “No exceptions,” he added.
The scale of the OPT outsourcing program is unclear — but it is certainly huge.

For comparison, the 147,498 foreigners now employed in the OPT program add up to three times the 51,000 Americans who graduated with information technology jobs in 2015, according to federal data. The number of resident foreign OPT professionals is also five times the 29,000 Americans who graduated with science degrees in 2015, and 40 percent more than the 108,000 Americans who graduates with engineering degrees.

The OPT number is expected to sharply rise in 2017 and later because President Barack Obama expanded the program to allow foreign students to work up to 24 months instead of 12 months. Also, foreign graduates from so-called “STEM” degrees — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — can work for an additional 12 months, or a total of three years.

The federal government defines STEM very broadly, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
OPT STEM graduates, says the DHS, can work in “dairy science… horticultural science… environmental studies … natural resources conservation … urban forestry … artificial intelligence … computer graphics … solar energy … naval science … cyber/electronic operations and warfare … stealth technology … undersea warfare … nutrition sciences … sustainability studies … child psychology … archaeology … medical science … veterinary physiology … business statistics … management science.”

The OPT program also allows companies to hire technicians who are not eligible for other visas, such as the H-1B visa for university graduates. That means community colleges can advertise their two-year degrees in China and India, knowing their foreign students will pay high tuition fees to win good jobs in the United States. The DHS list of STEM jobs for OPT employees includes more than 50 types of technical jobs, including “electrical, electronic… Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering Technology/Technician … solar energy … welding … industrial production … quality control … automotive engineering … nuclear engineering … [and] biology.”

For example, Hostos Community College in New York recruits students with offers of OPT jobs. The college is part of the CUNY network. Others examples include Glendale Community College in California, Houston Community College in Texas, and Columbus State Community College in Columbus, Ohio. Here’s an OPT–based recruitment video from Shoreline Community College, near Seattle, Wash., featuring a Japanese student who wants to become a U.S. policeman.

Universities, such as James Madison University in Virginia, love the OPT program because it allows them to effectively sell U.S. work-permits to foreign students, and to rent foreign students to companies. “We are very supportive of giving international students more opportunities because they are our alums, they are our graduates, they are the ones that are going to get better jobs because the companies are going to see that there’s more longitude to it,” said Adria Baker, the director of Rice University’s office for international students. “The companies are depending on these students. They hire them because they are the best people for that field,” she said.

Foreign students openly say they pay tuition to American universities because they also get work permits. “The primary reason I chose the U.S. was exactly that it offers better opportunities than other countries, whose immigration policies may be stricter,” Maggie Tang, a 2015 graduate of Rice, told the university newspaper. “I knew I had a chance to stay here and work, to earn back some of that tuition and gain experience,” she said.

University lobbyists have also pushed for the legal right to provide Green Cards — and a path to citizenship — directly to their paying customers. This dramatic proposal was endorsed in Obama’s 2013 “comprehensive immigration reform” bill that passed the Democratic-run Senate, but which was stopped by the GOP-run House in 2014. In 2016, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton backed this proposal, which would have slashed middle-class salaries by flooding the nation’s white-collar labor market with foreign professionals.

The OPT program is one of several visa programs that allow foreign graduates to take jobs sought by U.S. college graduates.

For example, the H-1B visa program gives U.S. white-collar jobs to roughly 650,000 foreign graduates, and the L-1 visa program is being used by a few hundred thousand foreign white-collar graduates to work in the United States. Overall, the population of foreign college graduates working in the United States exceeds 1 million — and exceeds the annual number of young Americans who graduate with four-year degrees in technology, business or healthcare.

The H-1B jobs are mostly in the information technology business, but they also include many prestigious jobs in accounting, engineering, academia, government agencies, and in healthcare, both on the coasts and in the heartland of the country. Many universities, include Rice University, have hired roughly 100,000 foreign graduates via the H-1B visa program as low-salary professors, doctors, therapists, and scientists.

On Jan. 17, three days before he leaves office, Obama is expected to release a set of regulations that will further expand the H-1B program.

There is little information about what jobs are being given to foreign graduates via the OPT program. But many seem to be starter jobs in the information technology sector which are needed by Americans graduates to pay their debts and to advances in their career field.

Some of the jobs are given to the the foreign graduates via a semi-hidden jobs market for “freshers.” That’s an Indian term for new graduates, so a quick search of online job sites for “freshers” shows companies which are eager to hire foreigners via the OPT program. Specialized websites for job-seeking OPT graduates exist. Also, there’s some evidence that many OPT workers are hired by their co-nationals living in the United States, without Americans being allowed to apply for the jobs.

U.S. officials have acted to exclude some foreign students and shut down a cheap university that let foreign students work in Silicon Valley in exchange for tuition payments.
The OPT program began in 1979 with only 2,840 OPT workers. It climbed to 7,712 jobs in 1989, to 25,857 jobs in 1999, to 66,601 jobs in 2009, and to 147,498 jobs in 2016, according to the Institute of International Education.

The programs’s growth is also accelerating. It grew by 11,000 jobs from 2013 to 2014, by almost 15,000 jobs from 2014 to 2015, and by 27,211 jobs from 2015 to 2016.

That figure went up 22.6 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Link to Source
12/2/2016 1:26:23 AM
Obama: Even More Foreign Workers for US STEM Jobs

Posts: 297
Last-Minute Regulation Creates More Foreign STEM Job Competition

Thu, Dec 1st 2016 @ 5:54 pm EST

Breitbart’s Neil Munro reports a last-minute Obama Administration regulation will create more foreign job competition for American workers specializing in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. It would: automatically extend the work permits of H-1B guest workers while they seek permanent employment-based green cards; increase their job portability; and create a new method for non-profits to hire H-1B workers by partnering with universities. And for foreign students who work under the Optional Training Program (OPT), the regulation would extend the length of their work permits so they can seek a H-1B slot.

Under current law, H-1B visas last for three years but can be renewed for another three. The number is capped at 65,000 per year -- with quotas placed on workers from certain countries -- plus 20,000 for those with advanced degrees, irrespective of the per-country cap. But institutions of higher education (including their hospitals) and government agencies are exempt from the cap and can import an unlimited number of H-1B workers. Under the OPT program foreign students, after graduation from U.S. universities, can work for 12 months and seek a 24-month extension.

No one knows the total population of H-1B visa holders currently working in the United States since the Department of Homeland Security only publishes information on the 85,000 new recipients each year. Breitbart cites estimates of “roughly 650,000 six-year H-1B professionals, plus several hundred thousand additional foreign college graduates holding L-1, B-1 or NAFTA visas, plus at least 120,000 foreign graduates in the expanded OPT program.”

These workers are coveted by companies, universities and government agencies because they can be hired at much lower wages than American workers and college graduates, and the jobs do not have to be offered to Americans first. This regulation makes H-1B visa holders even more attractive because it allows them to continue working indefinitely instead of having to return home and wait for a green card. It allows visa holders to get a job earlier than the law provides and to change jobs. And it allows their spouses and children with “compelling circumstances” to find jobs. The regulation, if effect, maximizes flexibility for employers and visa holders at the expense of American workers and graduates.

The regulation, which takes effect on January 17, 2017, poses a challenge for President-Elect Trump who promised to “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program.” He can immediately overturn President Obama’s executive orders and policies but regulations must be terminated through a lengthy notice-and-comment rulemaking. However, he can set a lower priority for the processing of such visas. This is what Obama did when he prioritized the processing of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applicants over all other immigration beneficiaries.

Link to Source
12/2/2016 1:07:11 AM
IG: Foreign Worker Program Prone To Massive Fraud

Posts: 297
Foreign Worker Program Prone To Massive Fraud: Inspector General

Foreign Worker Program – H1B program has serious issues says Government Inspector

As Donald Trump prepares to reform what he says is a broken immigration system, a new federal report highlights how a visa program for highly-skilled workers is prone to fraud and abuse.

The Department of Labor (DOL) allows employers to temporarily hire skilled foreign workers through the H-1B visa program. It is specifically designed to fill positions in specialty occupations. The DOL Office of Inspector General (OIG) warned in a semiannual report to lawmakers that the program is prone to significant fraud and abuse.

“OIG investigations have shown the H-1B program to be susceptible to significant fraud and abuse, particularly by dishonest immigration attorneys, labor brokers, employers, and organized criminal enterprises,” the report stated. “Our investigations have revealed schemes in which fraudulent applications were filed with DOL on behalf of fictitious companies and individuals, and unscrupulous businesses seeking to acquire foreign workers.”The OIG adds that the program has been a point of concern since the 1990s. The report points primarily at a statutory requirement that states the department must approve applications unless they are incomplete or obviously inaccurate. The report suggests the department be given more authority in reviewing applications.

“[DOL] must have the statutory authority to ensure the integrity of that process, including the ability to verify the accuracy of information provided on labor condition applications,” the report stated. “Currently, the Department is statutorily required to certify such applications unless it determines them to be ‘incomplete or obviously inaccurate.’”

The OIG released the semiannual report to inform congressional lawmakers on a range of department issues. It covered management of funds, program reviews and investigations into union racketeering and employer abuse. It offered several suggestions on how lawmakers could improve how the department operates.

The H-1B program and some other visas were implemented under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Visa programs cover a range of labor market needs from agricultural workers to high-skilled employment. The H-1B program covers skilled sectors like biotechnology, engineering, healthcare and law, among others.

The program is intended to serve employers who cannot find skilled domestic workers. The government relies on accurate information from employers to uphold that requirement. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, however, has urged reform of the law to better protect domestic workers.

“Most people believe that employers are supposed to recruit Americans before they petition for an H-1B worker,” Grassley stated in May 2015. “Yet, under the law, most employers are not required to prove to the Department of Labor that they tried to find an American to fill the job first.”

The Government Accountability Office published a report in 2011 citing similar concerns regarding the DOL and the Department of Homeland Security. The report noted that oversight of the visa program by the agencies was fragmented and restricted.

The DOL did not respond to a request for comment by InsideSources.

Foreign Worker Program Article by Connor D. Wolf, Inside Sources
11/29/2016 10:54:35 AM
Obama Expanding H-1B Outsourcing

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Obama Challenges Donald Trump by Expanding H-1B Outsourcing Program

by Neil Munro, breitbart.com, 28 Nov 20160

Obama’s expansion of the H-1B outsourcing program would take effect just three days before he leaves the White House. It can be seen as a direct challenge to incoming President Donald Trump, who promised to reform the H-1B program.“I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said in a March 2016 statement. “No exceptions,” he added. Obama’s new regulation would increase the annual inflow of H-1B professionals, and also allow more foreign professionals to get the permanent Green Cards that allow them to stay in the United States and eventually, to get citizenship for themselves and their family. The new regulation also benefits employers because it ensures more competition for jobs in business, academia, science, healthcare, technology, design and the media.

“This is an attempt to rewrite the Green Card [immigration] system through regulation,” said John Miano, an attorney who represents American workers hit by H-1B outsourcing. “The effect is to make an even bigger hash of the problems we have now,” he told Breitbart News.

Companies, universities and government agencies currently employ a population of more than 1 million foreign white-collar “guest workers,” who are usually hired without any chance for Americans to apply for the U.S. jobs.

These foreign professionals are not immigrants, but are temporary workers slated to return home to Europe, India, China or elsewhere after six or seven years. The population includes roughly 650,000 six-year H-1B professionals, plus several hundred thousand additional foreign college graduates holding L-1, B-1 or NAFTA visas, plus at least 120,000 foreign graduates in the expanded OPT program.

These foreign graduates are eager to take U.S. jobs, even at very low salaries, partly because the U.S. government supplements their salaries with the chance to win the very valuable reward of U.S. citizenship for themselves, their children, siblings and parents. That taxpayer-funded supplement allows companies to hire foreign workers for much less money than requested by young debt-burdened American graduates. The hidden subsidy for foreign graduates makes it difficult for American graduates to compete against foreign graduates for many jobs that don’t require direct cooperation with customers.

Obama’s pending regulation is beneficial, according to the regulation, because it encourages “skilled nonimmigrant workers contributing to the economy to continue seeking LPR [Green Card] status … Allows [foreign] dependents to enter labor market earlier and contribute to [guest workers’s] household income … [and] may expand the numbers of [Green Card] petitioners that are cap exempt and thus allow certain employers greater access to H-1B workers,” says the new regulation, which was drafted by the Department of Homeland Security, which runs much of the H-1B program.

“DHS has made an effort to provide additional flexibilities to as many high-skilled foreign workers as possible,” said the regulation, which downplays the concerns of Americans professionals. “Employer demand for immigrant visas has increasingly outpaced supply in some categories and for some nationalities, resulting in growing waits for some sponsored employees to obtain their LPR [green Card] status … [resulting] in substantial inequalities and other hardships” for the foreign workers, says the DHS regulation.

The regulation also helps foreign professionals to change jobs, and it allows H-1B professionals to stay longer than six years.

The regulation dismisses public concerns about the impact of foreign workers on Americans’ wages, and downplays the regulation’s impact on Americans’ access to good jobs. “DHS estimates in the [regulation’s notes] that there will be about 92,600 dependent spouses and children that may be eligible for [one new feature, the] compelling circumstances employment authorization in the first year (the year with the largest number of eligible applicants) which represents approximately 0.06 percent of the overall U.S. civilian labor force,” according to the regulation.

Currently, at least 100,000 new H-1B workers arrive each year, and many thousands more get permanent Green Cards.

On paper, there is an annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas allowed for companies. But many companies get around the limit by working with non-profits who are allowed to import as many H-1B workers as they wish. The “cap exempt” loophole for non-profits means that universities, colleges and their affiliated hospitals and allied companies now employ roughly 100,000 H-1B professionals instead of 100,000 American professors, doctors, therapists and scientists.
The new regulation expands the “cap exempt” category by making it easier for companies to partner with non-profits, such as a university, and it allows state-run research agencies to hire an unlimited number of H-1Bs on behalf of local companies.

By getting the regulation established on Jan. 17, three days before Trump is inaugurated, trump’s deputies will be forced to go through a lengthy process to reverse the H-1B expansion. “The Trump administration would need to engage in full notice-and-comment rulemaking to do so, an effort that would take time and may not be a focus of the new administration given the president-elect’s other immigration priorities,” said Justin Storch, a manager at the Council for Global Immigration.

Although industry lobbying and media coverage of the H-1B program is focused on Silicon Valley’s outsourcing, the guest-workers are employed at many tasks by many famous companies, including Caterpillar, McDonalds and CVS and at many little-known outsourcing companies.

For example, the federal government approved requests for 7,865 H-1B visas for healthcare jobs in 2015, including almost 700 therapists and 207 pharmacists, according to the MyVisaJobs.com website. Most of these requests were from non-profit operations, such as university hospitals and government agencies.

The foreign professionals are also employed at federal laboratories.

The resident population of H-1B foreign professionals is roughly equal to the number of Americans who graduate from college with skilled degrees each year. In 2014, for example 358,000 Americans earned business degrees, 51,000 got degrees Information Technology degrees, 108,000 became engineers, 199,000 got health-related degrees, 21,000 got degrees in math or statistics, and 29,000 earned science degrees. That’s almost 800,000 new graduates, or roughly eight Americans for every six jobs held by a H-1B foreign professional.

Many of the H-1B workers get Green Cards once their employees start the bureaucratic process. That process sharply increases the resident population of of foreign-born professionals in the United States, so helping hold down Americans’ salaries across the economy. In Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, for example, the current population of up to 40,000 H-1B employees is augmented by roughly 75,000 foreign professionals who have gotten Green Cards via their employers since 1990.

The inflow of extra white-collar temporary workers is being accompanied by a sharp increase in the numbers of unskilled migrants seeking blue-collar jobs sought by Americans. Since late 2012, for example, Obama has provided work permits, or school slots, to perhaps 300,000 migrants from Central America. If allowed to stay, those migrants will cost Americans roughly $200 billion in taxpayer funds over the next 75 years.

In the first half of 2015, Obama also allowed more than 900,000 legal immigrants in the country. That mass immigration delivered almost 1 new immigrant to the labor market for every two young Americans who begin looking for work in 2015, or one new immigrant for every two American children born that year.

The 2015 inflow of almost 2 million immigrants, plus the 1 million blue-collar and white-collar guest-workers, added up to three new foreigners for every four Americans who enter the workforce.

In general, the huge inflow of immigrants and guest-workers aids CEOs and investors by lowering the price of labor, so boosting profits. This transfer shifts roughly $500 billion per year from Americans’ paychecks up to managers’ and investors’ accounts, according to George Borjas, a Harvard economist.

However, Trump’s reform plan could largely eliminate the wage-cutting impact of the H-1B programs. In August 2015, for example, he issued a reform plan saying:
We graduate two times more Americans with STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant, instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.

Since 2009, Obama has grown the number of guest-workers in the United States, partly by allowing the spouses of temporary workers to work in the United States. In 2013, Obama also pushed a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” that would have allowed an unlimited number of foreign graduates to get work permits in the United States by first paying tuition fees to U.S. universities. That “staple” plan was derailed in 2014 by voters eager to reduce annual immigration, and then blown up in 2014 by GOP primary votes in the Seventh District of Virginia, who ejected the GOP’s Majority Leader, Rep. Eric Cantor. In the 2016 campaign, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton supported a similar plan to “staple” work permits to postgraduate degrees.

So, far, however, Trump has not chosen a person to run the Departments of Labor or the Department of Homeland Security, which manage the H-1B and other guest-worker programs.

Trump is also facing opposition from business groups and their GOP allies who strongly back the guest-worker programs, which bring in roughly 1 million foreign blue-collar and white-collar workers each year.

For example, in 2late 2015, House Speaker Paul Ryan effectively quadrupled the size of the H-2B program, which brings in 66,000 blue-collar workers for jobs in the landscaping, hotel, vacation and forestry businesses each year. Some of those workers are also used to replace Americans in high-wage construction jobs. that expansion expires in December, unless Ryan extends the H-2B expansion.

Overall, Trump’s immigration reform plans are expected to open up jobs to young Americans and to nudge up Americas’ salaries, according to a Wall Street study.

Read the new regulation here.

Link to Source
10/24/2016 12:42:23 PM
Silicon Valley Pushes Immigration for Own Purpose

Posts: 203
Silicon Valley Pushes for Immigration Reform for Its Own Purposes

By Bryant Walker Smith. NY Times. October 24, 2016

Tech companies are currently driving the biggest lobbying efforts on immigration reform, mostly so they can expand the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers.

The possibility that the H-1B program speeds up innovation and increases productivity is used to argue for its expansion. Bill Gates, for example, claims that Microsoft creates four new jobs, ostensibly for citizens, for each H-1B immigrant hired.

Is the H-1B visa program that brings in high-skilled immigrant workers benefiting the American people? The evidence is mixed.

But there is an obvious self-interest for high-tech tycoons — more programmers reduce wages and increase profits — so it’s wise to ignore their promises and look at what the data actually say about the benefits for the American people, especially in a time when immigration reform is in such a heated debate. Unfortunately, the evidence is mixed.

The conclusion that Americans are better off with more H-1B workers comes from studies showing higher levels of innovation in cities that host many H-1B immigrants. But sometimes the results are not credible.

The correlation reported in a well-known study, for instance, suggests that if Congress would just print another 15 million visas, the wage of U.S.-born college graduates would nearly double! One must have a financial stake in the H-1B program or be very gullible to take such a “finding” seriously.

The most persuasive evaluation of the program examines a peculiar lottery. Firms can apply for visas on a first-come, first-served basis until the visas run out. On some random day, the visas run out and on that day more firms typically apply than there are visas available. A lottery determines the lucky winners. It turns out that the firms that won the lottery do not patent more, and that each H-1B visa crowds out one native worker. This evidence is far more consistent with the flood of news reports documenting how employers abuse the program and force the displaced natives to train their foreign-born replacements.

Despite the contradictory evidence, there is a sensible way to proceed. Some native workers undoubtedly lose. But let’s take Bill Gates at face value. If Microsoft really creates so many new jobs, Microsoft is profiting substantially and should be willing to pay many thousands of dollars for each visa. Let’s use those funds to compensate and retrain the affected workers. Actions speak louder than words: Would the high-tech tycoons actually be willing to pay substantial amounts for those permits?

Link to Source
10/19/2016 12:32:44 AM
Open borders ‘dream’ is nightmare for workers

Posts: 203
Hillary’s open borders ‘dream’ is a nightmare for workers

By Betsy McCaughey, nypost.com

Immigration will take center stage Wednesday night at the final Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate. Clinton dreams of “open borders.” Count on her to yank on your heartstrings. But workers who are losing their jobs to newcomers from other countries know first-hand the danger of increasing immigration.

Trump’s challenge will be to convince voters that putting American workers first is not racist or xenophobic. It’s simple economics. Hillary’s “dream” of open borders is a nightmare for wage-earners.

Do the math: In the last 12 months, jobs held by immigrants have increased five times as fast as those held by US-born workers. The American labor force is being displaced at a rapid pace.

To add insult to injury, some pink-slipped workers are being forced to train low-wage replacements after they’ve been fired. Last year, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., fired 250 tech workers and then demanded they spend their final weeks on the job teaching their replacements from India.

Clinton promises to protect American jobs. Don’t count on it. Hillary’s “private position” on open borders — her secret dream of unlimited immigration — is one of the bombshell revelations in the recent WikiLeaks disclosure of her paid speeches.

Now it’s clear why she refused to disclose these speeches when Bernie Sanders demanded them.

Sanders smelled a rat during the primary season, when Hillary courted labor with assurances she’d preserve their jobs. He warned that her globalist views would allow wealthy corporations “to bring in all kinds of people [who] work” for low pay and “would make everybody in America poorer.” He did the math and saw that it’s already happening.

Since November 2007, jobs belonging to native-born workers have declined by 1.5 million, while jobs held by immigrants (legal and illegal) have grown by 2 million. In the last year alone, employment by native-born American workers inched up a meager 1 percent. Immigrant employment shot up 5 percent.

Some economists point to Adam Smith’s long-held theory that the invisible hand of the global market place should allow labor and raw materials to move wherever they will be used to maximum benefit. In short, open borders and free trade. That’s the theory.

But in the United States, Smith’s invisible hand is smacking labor upside the head.

A steady stream of newly arriving workers keeps wages down in industries like buildings-and-grounds maintenance and food preparation and serving. That benefits business owners and consumers, but the data show it depresses the standard of living of wage earners in these industries — the people mowing lawns, packaging frozen foods and serving burgers.

As Harvard economist George Borjas shows, it also hurts immigrants already here who are struggling to make it.

Hillary has declared income inequality Public Enemy No 1. She’s campaigning to raise the federal minimum wage. That’s two-faced, so long as she allows immigration to drive down wages of disadvantaged minorities, including high-school dropouts and people with limited English skills.

Mid-level computer workers and skilled technicians are also getting slammed by an influx of foreign workers brought here expressly to undercut their salaries.

US law allows companies to evade immigration limits and bring in foreign workers under H-1B visas to fill jobs as long as it doesn’t “adversely affect” conditions for US workers. But as one laid off Disney worker said, “Was I negatively affected? Yeah, I was. I lost my job.”

During the Republican primaries, Donald Trump attacked these special visas and pledged, “If I am president, I will not issue any H-1B visas.” Trump’s not entirely innocent — he used similar immigration loopholes to staff his resorts. But he says what he did as a businessman and what he’ll do as president are different.

Meanwhile, tech firms like Facebook and Apple are pushing for more — not fewer — H-1B visas and looser immigration laws. Tech moguls are shoveling millions into Clinton’s campaign. And remember: Money talks, especially with the Clintons.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.
10/13/2016 8:34:30 AM
Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs

Posts: 203
America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs
The Great Unraveling

By Jon Hilsenrath and Bob Davis, WSJ.com

The discontent driving Donald Trump’s campaign stems partly from the dashed employment promises of the late 1990s; $7-an-hour robots

The technology revolution has delivered Google searches, Facebook friends, iPhone apps, Twitter rants and shopping for almost anything on Amazon, all in the past decade and a half.

What it hasn’t delivered are many jobs. Google’s Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. had at the end of last year a total of 74,505 employees, about one-third fewer than Microsoft Corp. even though their combined stock-market value is twice as big. Photo-sharing service Instagram had 13 employees when it was acquired for $1 billion by Facebook in 2012.

Hiring in the computer and chip sectors dove after companies shifted hardware production outside the U.S., and the newest tech giants needed relatively few workers. The number of technology startups fizzled. Growth in productivity and wages slowed, and income inequality rose as machines replaced routine, low- and middle-income, human-powered work.

Technology Booms, But Not For American Workers After rising in the 1990s, employment at computer and electronic firms has fallen by more than 40%, though a smaller number of jobs has been created in other tech sectors.

Apple Inc. followed a similar path. Co-founder Steve Jobs made it a mission early in his Apple career and after creating NeXT Inc., another computer maker, to revitalize U.S. manufacturing. Macintosh computers rolled off the line at an Apple factory “like a Holiday Inn toaster turns out toasted bagels,” says Brent Schlender, who co-wrote a biography of Mr. Jobs.

By the time Mr. Jobs died in 2011, Apple made nearly every one of its products outside America, largely in Asia. Apple halted U.S. manufacturing in 2004 and didn’t resume until 2013, when it began producing Mac Pro personal computers in Austin, Texas.

Apple says it employs about 80,000 workers in the U.S., or two-thirds of the company’s overall workforce. About half the U.S. employees have retail jobs.

An Apple spokeswoman says it is “creating jobs in new industries like the App Economy,” or apps developed for the iPhone, and is “a major contributor to U.S. manufacturing” by buying American-made components and materials.

Mr. Schlender, the Jobs biographer, says it made sense to assemble the iPod outside the U.S. when production began in 2001. “The components were hard to make, and putting them together was a labor-intensive job because everything was so small,” he says. “You had to piece it together by hand.”

The computer-hardware exodus spread. International Business Machines Corp. , the company that turned computers into a big business, was born in Endicott, N.Y., and built its first factories there.

From 2001 to 2015, though, employment in computer and electronics manufacturing in surrounding Broome County fell about two-thirds to 3,055 jobs. Warehouses and transportation companies scooped up some laid-off workers at salaries of less than half those paid in high-tech manufacturing, says Christian Harris, an analyst for the New York State Department of Labor.

American tech workers are getting a smaller piece of the economic pie created from what they produce. As of 2014, employee compensation in computer and electronic-parts making was equal to 49% of the value of the industry’s output, down from 79% in 1999, according to the Commerce Department.

While other tech jobs have been created in sectors such as software publishing, that growth is smaller than the losses in tech manufacturing.

Since 2002, the number of technology startups has slowed, hurting job creation. In a 2014 study, economists Javier Miranda, John Haltiwanger and Ian Hathaway said the growth of tech startups accelerated to 113,000 in 2001 from 64,000 in 1992.

That number slumped to 79,000 in 2011 and hasn’t recovered, according to the economists’ calculations using updated data. The causes include global competition and increased domestic regulation, says Mr. Haltiwanger, an economics professor at the University of Maryland.

Another problem is that fewer tech companies have gone public, which can enrich early employees and spawn more jobs as companies grow.
Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, says there were 548 initial public offerings of technology-related companies from 2001 to 2015. From 1990 to 2000, by contrast, 1,853 went public.

The latest generation of hot tech startups has attracted a mountain of venture-capital funding and gigantic valuations, led by Uber Technologies Inc., which was worth $68 billion as of June.

The influx of wealth has created more prosperity in Silicon Valley but exemplifies the economic polarization rippling through America.

WhatsApp had more than 450 million users world-wide when Facebook bought the messaging service for $19 billion in 2014, turning founder Jan Koum into a billionaire several times over. At the time of the acquisition, WhatsApp had 55 employees.

Economists call the phenomenon “skill-biased technical change.” The spoils of growth go to those few people with skills and luck and who are best positioned to take advantage of new technology.

The five largest U.S.-based technology companies by stock-market value—Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Oracle Corp. —are worth a combined $1.8 trillion today. That is 80% more than the five largest tech companies in 2000.

Today’s five giants have 22% fewer workers than their predecessors, or a total of 434,505 as of last year, compared with 556,523 at Cisco Systems Inc., Intel, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft in 2000.

Amazon uses 45,000 small robots at about one-third of its U.S. warehouses to automate order processing. The robots look like bread boxes on wheels, lifting modular shelves stuffed with products and carrying the shelves to workers who pick out pieces.

An Amazon spokesman says the company has added about 200,000 employees since it began using the robots in early 2012. Amazon has 268,000 employees world-wide.

Robots aren’t dexterous enough yet to identify different sized-packages, pick the right ones and place them safely in boxes, says Mr. Brynjolfsson, the MIT economist. That is the fundamental skill in warehousing. Researchers now are trying to automate that part of the job, too.

In coming decades, machines are likely to replace new forms of routine work done by humans. From 1991 to 2001, the number of secretaries declined about 35%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of textile and apparel workers fell 37%.

For a long time, those with bachelor’s degrees in science seemed to be safe from automation-related layoffs because their cognitive knowledge was tough for computers to duplicate. Less-educated workers who dispense personal service, such as home health aides or masseuses, also seemed safe.

Harvard University economist David Deming estimates that the hollowing-out of work spread to programmers, librarians and engineers between 2000 and 2012. As much as $2 trillion worth of human economic activity could be automated away using existing technologies, such as Amazon’s robots, in coming years, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates.

Knightscope Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., makes robots that serve as night watchmen. About three dozen are on patrol, including at shopping malls, corporate campuses such as Microsoft’s in Mountain View and the new home arena of the Sacramento Kings. Knightscope clients pay $7 an hour per robot.

“Robots don’t complain,” says Stacy Stephens, a Knightscope co-founder and vice president of marketing and sales. “There’s no pension. And there’s no worker’s comp,” he adds.

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10/11/2016 9:09:47 AM
Debt & Rent Slaves Blamed for Lousy Economy

Posts: 203
These Debt & Rent Slaves Get Blamed for the Lousy Economy
by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street.com, October 10, 2016

Over the past few days, the Diamond Producers Association launched its first new ad campaign in five years after watching retail sales of diamond jewelry slow down, as Millennials built on the habit pioneered by prior generations of delaying or not even thinking about marriage, and thus not being sufficiently enthusiastic about buying diamond engagement rings.

The campaign, according to Adweek, is designed to motivate Millennials “to commemorate their ‘real,’ honest relationships with diamonds, even if marriage isn’t part of the equation.”

Mother New York, the agency behind the campaign, spent months interviewing millennials, according to Quartz, and learned that they associated diamonds with a “fairytale love story that wasn’t
relevant to them.” So the premium jewelry industry, seeing future profits at risk, needs to do something about that.

A year ago, it was Wall Street – specifically Goldman Sachs – that did a lot of hand-wringing about millennials. “They don’t trust the stock market,” Goldman Sachs determined in a survey. Only 18% thought that the stock market was “the best way to save for the future.”

It’s a big deal for Wall Street because millennials are now the largest US generation. There are 75 million of them. They’re supposed to be the future source of big bonuses. Wall Street needs to figure out how to get to their money.

The older ones have seen the market soar, collapse, re-soar, re-collapse, re-soar…. They’ve seen the Fed’s gyrations to re-inflate stocks. They grew up with scandals and manipulations, high-frequency trading, dark pools, and spoofing. They’ve seen hard-working people get wiped out and wealthy people get bailed out. Maybe they’d rather not mess with that infernal machine.

And today, the Los Angeles Times added more fuel. “They’re known for bouncing around jobs, delaying marriage, and holing up in their parents’ basements,” it mused.

Everyone wants to know why millennials don’t follow the script. Brick-and-mortar retailers have been complaining about them for years, with increasing intensity, and a slew of specialty chains have gone bankrupt, a true fiasco for the industry, even as online retailers are laughing all the way to the bank.

“For starters, millennials are not big spenders, at least not in the traditional sense,” the Times said. Yet most of them spend every dime they earn, those that have decent jobs. But much of that spending goes toward their student-loan burden and housing.

Everybody somehow agrees that millennials as a group prefer “experiences” – eating out, traveling, etc. – over buying merchandise, such as jewelry, clothing, furniture, and cars, though they buy gadgets and services galore. But that “experiences” theory too is running into trouble because restaurants are slithering into a recession as sales have hit the skids recently.

So these spending habits of millennials “may not be great for a U.S. economy driven by consumer spending,” the Times points out.

But I wonder: Consumer spending includes a meal from a taco truck along with a craft brew, all made in America, same as a piece of clothing made in Bangladesh. Why would splurging on an “experience” near a taco truck be worse for the economy than buying some imported piece of merchandise? I don’t get it.

And travels? Granted, foreign travel is not good for the US economy. But other generations, too, liked and still like to travel – a lot. Some of us were gone for years. I doubt millennials are more damaging to the US economy in that department than we are.

Domestic travel is good for the economy, thought it may be less good for the environment. Every dime they spend getting there and staying there or having fun – all these “experiences” add to GDP.
But millennials have two problems prior generations didn’t have – at least not to that crazy extent:

  1. They’re bogged down in student loans, the result of rapacious price increases in higher education. The New York Fed estimates that total student debt from federal and private lenders has reached a record $1.3 trillion. An increasingly large part of that debt sits on top of millennials, turning them into debt slaves.
  2. They’re facing confiscatory rents and home prices in many cities, thanks to Fed’s effort to inflate the greatest asset bubbles the US has ever seen, though few millennials make that connection.
So they rent or stay with their parents or they bunk down together, four or five of them in an apartment in places like San Francisco. Homeownership has plunged to 62.9% in the second quarter, the lowest level since the Census Bureau started tracking it in 1965:

For millennials, the homeownership rate fell to 34%, from around 40% for young adults in prior decades, according to the Times. Given the rents they face, saving up for a down payment has become a herculean task. So forget it. But now the real estate industry is complaining about the millennials. Everyone needs new homebuyers to keep the market propped up and the commissions flowing.
And they’re risk averse and not into starting new businesses, according to the Times, which would corroborate Goldman’s lament about millennials not digging the stock market:

The rate of new start-ups is higher today than 10 or 20 years ago for every major age group — except those between 20 and 34 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s latest annual study of entrepreneurship.

Two decades ago, a little more than 34% of all new entrepreneurs in the U.S. were younger than 34 years old. Today it’s just 25%.

That’s bad news. But it’s logical: burdened by student loans and confronted with confiscatory housing costs, fewer of them have any courage or means left to deal with the extraordinary uncertainties and risks of starting a business in this environment. Given how important small and young businesses are to the economy, to jobs, to invention, to business renewal, and to the middle class, any major reluctance by millennials have in starting businesses will have an impact – or already has an impact.

Over the past three decades, the US averaged nearly 120,000 more business births than deaths per year. But between 2008 and 2011, on average 30,000 more businesses died than were born, according to the Census Bureau. That the core of the US job creation machine has been faltering is not a sign of a healthy or even a “recovering” economy.

Read… “Or We’ll Lose the Whole Middle Class”: Gallup CEO

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edited by Connelly on 10/11/2016