Re: “U.S. Firms Lament Cutback in Visas for Foreign Talent,” Feb. 16:
The quote from Harris Miller of the Information Technology Assn. of America is typical of the misinformation he and his organization specialize in spreading. By linking opposition to visa abuse with anti-immigrant sentiment, he tries to divert attention from the fact that he, and the short-sighted corporations that fund his organization, could not care less about the interests of American high-tech workers.
The numbers tell the story: Though hiring has been dead since the Internet boom fizzled, and thousands of high-tech jobs have been sent overseas in the past few years, the quota for H-1B visas remained at 195,000 a year until this year. The industry’s own greed is to blame for its inability to import yet more cheap skilled labor.
And while it might be true that a small percentage of people awarded H-1B and L-1 visas are “the best in the world,” the great majority are no better or worse than their unemployed U.S. counterparts, except that they’re at the mercy of the companies managing their visas.
The ITAA might as well drop “America” from its name. It is not interested in the future of this country, or that of people who have to work for a living.
These companies are not even trying to hire U.S. citizens to fill these skilled engineering and scientific positions. They are instead looking to import cheap foreign labor for jobs that cannot be moved overseas.
The fact is that there are thousands of qualified Americans to fill the jobs these firms are essentially outsourcing to cheap foreign labor.
The article reports that too few in the U.S. have the needed math and science skills.
That’s interesting because I have been looking for work just like many of my classmates in graduate school, and I’ve never seen Rockwell Scientific on any of the major job websites I visit occasionally or at any of the career fairs at the universities, and they complain they can’t find workers. Hmm.
The story says that in 1999, the U.S. granted only 61,000 bachelor-level engineering degrees.
Given the intimidating difficulty of the engineering curricula, and the amount of work required compared with most other majors, are we providing enough incentives for our students to make that commitment?
When we start to provide rewards commensurate with the demands, and can prove we really do value mathematical and engineering skills, our youths will respond accordingly.