Guest Editorial

By Rick Manning  |  March 2, 2016

H1-B visa program kills the American dream 


Can you imagine being forced to train your replacement when the corporation that preached family to you decided they could go cheaper if they just imported a foreign worker? 

Well that is exactly was Disney Corporation forced some of their highly skilled IT employees to endure, in a widening national scandal about H1-B visa abuse. 

The H1B visa program is designed to allow businesses to apply for a limited number of high tech workers to come to America to fill skill gaps in the American workforce.  But rather than being an honest means to meet domestic corporate needs that Americans cannot fill, the program has become nothing more than a human resources department scam where workers are laid off in favor of lower cost foreign imports.

Former Disney tech employee Leo Perrero told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, "How do I explain to my young children to follow their dreams and find a job that they love? I followed my dream of having a career in technology to have my very same desk, chair, and computer all taken over by a foreign worker who was just flown in to America weeks before."

Perrero was given the choice of training foreign workers to take his job, or lose his severance pay, and chose to endure the humiliation of sitting side by side with imported tech workers and spoon feeding them basic processes. And Disney saved tens of thousands of dollars per employee annually by abusing this skilled worker import program, somehow making the Magic Kingdom seem much less magical in the light of day.

But the entertainment, media conglomerate is not alone in abusing the H1-B visa program which the Techsters continually demand that Congress expand.  Not content with their billion-dollar stock portfolios fueled by a Federal Reserve created bubble, high tech personalities like Mark Zuckerberg have spent a portion of their newfound wealth trying to expand the H1-B visa program so they can cut their labor costs — dealing Americans out of a piece of the tech pie.

Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) points out that the problem at Disney is not isolated saying, "The sad reality is that — not only is there not a shortage of exceptionally qualified U.S. workers — but across the country thousands of U.S. workers are being replaced by foreign labor. The picture next to me is from Northeast Utilities — a company based in Connecticut and now known as Eversource — that announced that it was going to lay off employees in its IT department and hired outside companies that used H1-B employees to provide its IT services.  These U.S. workers were forced to train their foreign replacements and were silenced by Northeast Utilities. According to one of these workers who contacted my staff and requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, 'the only way that we could make a statement was by placing small American flags outside of our cubicles and aisles.  Gradually, as we got replaced by the H-1Bs, the flags disappeared as we did.'"

To make matters worse, Attorney General Loretta Lynch recently ended an investigation into whether Southern California Edison unlawfully used the H1-B visa program to replace 500 American IT workers concluding that no charges would be filed because the law had been followed. That, even after Southern California Edison similarly threatened to withhold severance packages from employees that refused to train their foreign H1-B replacements.

If, as Lynch concluded, the H1-B visa program can legally be used to strip away good paying U.S. jobs for lower cost replacement workers, then Congress needs to act to halt all H1-B visas from being issued until the system can be corrected.

If used to fill legitimate needs for skilled workers, the H1-B visa program makes sense, but in today's iteration, it is little more than a direct corporate handout of low wage labor at the expense of skilled American workers and if that isn't a crime, it should be.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.