The newsmagazine concludes that getting cheaper foreign labor was never the intent of H-1b program; it was built to bring “ skilled” workers.
A CBS “60 Minutes” investigation has found that more and more companies are using H-1B visas to fire American workers and hiring foreign workers through H-1B visas.
Titled “You’re Fired”, the program-journalists spoke to several American workers who were traded for cheaper foreign workers through H-1B program. The investigators found that while the H-1B visas were put in place to attract highly skilled guestworkers, but it became a trajectory for low-cost foreign labor.
“The H-1B has been hijacked, as the main highway to bring people from abroad and displace American,” former Congressman Bruce Morrison told the CBS News. Morrison, a Democrat, is a chief architect of the Immigration Act of 1990.
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Morrison said that H-1B was intended to be stricter. He said that a hiring company should pay a H-1B visa-holder equal salary to what it would have paid an American worker for same work. However, in reality, this practice is seldom followed. The guestworkers, the report explicates, have no leverage to negotiate salaries; thus, are more beneficial for the companies.
The newsmagazine cites another American worker, Craig Diangelo. “I didn’t get laid off for lack of work. I got laid off because somebody cheaper could do my job,” Diangelo said. “60 Minutes” reports that Diangelo’s replacement was paid half his salary and that too without benefits.
In addition, the report highlighted the work of consultation firms that hire foreign workers for American companies. Also known as “body shops,” these companies grew bigger in their role and “lied when filling out visa forms, and the Labor Department merely checked that the forms were completed,” according to the report.
H-1B visas are for highly skilled individuals. But, is it so? Morrison disagrees.
“The workers being brought in don’t know anything more than the workers they’re replacing. They know less. And that’s why they have to be retrained or trained by the American workers who are being laid off. This is not about skills, this is about costs,” Morrison told Bill Whitaker, CBS News correspondent.
Mugesh Aghi, president of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), too, agreed that cost does matter to business owners. “That’s one factor. Every company is out there to make money with the cheapest possible way itself,” Aghi told CBS News.
The report says that saving money was not the real intent of the H-1b program. It pointed out the H-1Bs were put in place to get highly skilled foreign workers that would complement America’s need for professionals in, for instance, science, mathematics, et cetera. However, it has been diverted from its real motive and reduced to mere means of bringing-in cheaper foreign labor.
New H-1B visa reform of Trump might take longer for implementation (March 13, 2017)