All over the country, from the University of California, San Francisco to Disneyland in Orlando, thousands of Americans are losing their jobs. And in this case, we’re not talking about the so-called “coal people” who Bill Clinton disdained in West Virginia, or the appliance and auto workers being outsourced in the Rust Belt, or the factory workers of the vanishing “furniture belt” in North Carolina and Southern Virginia (although the loss of these jobs is just as devastating to those workers and their families).
This particular stream of joblessness is hitting systems engineers and other IT career specialists, right at the heart of modern technology.
When Trump met last week with the Hot Shots of Silicon Valley, one of the biggest questions on the mind of everyone present was probably the issue of H-1B visas. Businesses and other institutions rely on these government issued documents to import huge numbers of workers from India and other countries. By paying these newcomers much less than the Americans they replace, companies save big bucks on labor costs.
But even worse than the fact that our country’s most experienced and talented IT gurus are being booted out of good-paying middle class jobs is that fact that these companies actually force the Americans to train their replacements, or else forgo any severance pay or the possibility of another job within the company.
It’s sick and sadistic, any way you look at it.
The problem has been going on for decades now, and it gets more convoluted and corrupt, with each new generation of politicians on both sides of the aisle promising to fix it. But so far, none have made it such a central feature of an entire campaign, as has Trump.
So when he sat at the table with the heads of the largest technology companies in the world, Trump knew that, against all of their wishes, he had to keep his promise to American workers to “bring our jobs back,” or in the case of H-1B visas, to “keep our jobs here.”
Trump and his team have wasted no time in preparing for a fast-moving, hard-hitting first 100 days in office, beginning January 21, 2017. In fact, even before meeting with the Silicon Saviors, Senator Jeff Sessions, who Trump has tapped for the position of Attorney General, and Senator Ted Cruz introduced the American Jobs First Act of 2015 (S. 2394).
“The mass layoff of American workers at Disney, Southern California Edison, and many other companies – who were then forced to train their foreign replacements – underscores that our political system has failed in its duty to protect our own people,” said Sen. Sessions in a release.
“Far from filling ‘labor shortages,’ [the program] is being used to destroy existing jobs of American workers,” Sessions said. “This legislation would improve wage standards for the H-1B visa, block its use as a cheap labor program, and scrap the terribly abused foreign worker [OPT] ‘training program’ which has become a backdoor method for replacing American workers. It would also eliminate the diversity lottery, which has become yet one more avenue for low-wage labor.”
Of course, American workers whose jobs are in jeopardy would be thrilled to see this legislation passed and implemented. However, the bill faces an uphill battle against the entrenched special interests and their lackeys in Congress – in this case, industry leaders who have themselves proposed H-1B visa legislation, called “I-squared.”
“In every sense, [this new bill] is the exact opposite of the I-squared proposal which was written by and for industry interests, and which would further drive down wages for American workers,” Sessions said. “I hope the Senate and House will take up and pass the ‘American Jobs First Act,’ and send the message that real immigration reform answers to the American people, not the special interests.”
Trump himself will most likely take an active part, using his famous negotiating skills to get this, or a similar bill passed and signed into law.
One thing’s for sure – the new President is not just going to sit around and wait on what promises to be an arduous and acrimonious legislative process:
As he said in a recent YouTube message, “I’ve asked my transition team to come up with a list of actions we can take on Day 1 [of my administration] to restore our laws and bring back our jobs. … On immigration, I will direct the Department of Labor to investigate all abuses of visa programs that undercut the American worker.”
Trump’s message shows that he is actively planning to investigate the corruption that has crept into the H-1B and other visa programs. These executive actions, in addition to new legislation, such as the American Jobs First Act, should give a one-two knockout punch to the plans and schemes of those businesses and institutions that are looking to pinch every penny – or worse, to use visas for political gain – and could care less about American jobs.
Have you lost a job to outsourcing, an H-1B visa holder, or other unfair hiring practice? Please leave a comment below.Follow me on Twitter: