H-1Bs Take Jobs from Americans

The Quote Below—More Misinformation from the Media

“Across U.S. universities, foreign-born researchers and teachers are concentrated in high-growth STEM fields. . . . Research and government studies don’t support the president’s claims that these foreign workers take jobs away from native-born Americans. The H-1B visa program halted by the president is designed to attract essential skills and training in short supply in the U.S. labor pool. The supply of employer-sought high-skill workers is often concentrated in specific global regions, leading to employee shortfalls.” – Trump’s Efforts to Tighten Immigration Ignore the Contributions of Foreign-Born Workers, Bruce Peabody and Harvey Lodish, The Washington Post, 7/16/20 [Link]

Fact Check of Quote Above: This editorial repeats the talking points of tech firms that prefer to hire foreign workers with H-1B visas rather than American citizens. The firms claim that they cannot find enough qualified Americans to fill jobs requiring skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). They maintain that the H-1B program gives them access to the “best and brightest” foreigners to fill their job openings.

These claims are not valid. There are plenty of qualified Americans who could do these jobs. One proof is that almost three-quarters of Americans with degrees in STEM are working in other fields. The companies, however, prefer not to hire them because they would rather have H-1B workers. The advantage is that they can pay them less and have a more docile and compliant workforce.

The companies deny that they pay foreigners less, but they do so through skillful use of loopholes in hiring laws. One who has exposed this deception is Norman Matloff, a computer science professor at U.C., Davis who has spent many years rebutting the claims of the tech companies. He observes that if there were truly a shortage of American workers the wages in tech fields would have risen to reflect that shortage. Generally, they haven’t.

Another proof that qualified Americans are available is the all too common practice of tech firms to require the American workers they are firing to train their foreign replacements before leaving their jobs. Commonly, the firms deny them severance pay if they do not comply with this humiliating requirement. A key point to note: If the American workers were not more skilled and knowledgeable than their replacements, they would not be able to provide them training.

The claim that H-1B workers are the “best and brightest” simply isn’t true, as Matloff and other writers demonstrate. Most are people of average talent and ability.

Years ago advocates of globalism told American workers not to worry about the loss of our industrial base to “free trade” because we could keep our middle class standard of living by retraining in computer science and other tech fields. Thanks to H-1Bs and similar visas, this is less and less an option.

One consequence is that our middle class is shrinking. The tech company CEOs don’t mind because their jobs are secure, and neither do the well-heeled journalists who spread the companies’ propaganda. It might be different if H-1Bs were competing for media jobs.


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