Has The J-1 Visa Scandal Gained Critical Mass?

Thanks, PD, for pointing out in response to Shock! Superb MSM Expose: J-1 Visas Take Summer Jobs From American Kids that The Palm Beach Post has recently run similar stories.

Use of guest workers in Palm Beach County draws fire By John Lantigua Sunday, June 12, 2011

While Palm Beach County unemployment remains above 10 percent – higher for unskilled labor – country clubs and luxury resorts are importing foreign guest workers to fill hundreds of jobs that are listed as seasonal but last most of the year.

The U.S. Department of Labor approved the importation of 6,484 foreign workers by Florida firms using guest worker visas – called H-2B visas – for the 2010-11 year. Palm Beach County employers were certified for 1,579, 24.4 percent, the most in the state.

This is actually a variant of the J-1 Visa scam the in Denver Post story discussed above, using yet another loophole:

The majority of the hotel and country club jobs taken by H-2B workers last between 7 1/2 and 10 months per year. Employers must attest that they cannot find U.S. workers to fill the positions and must pay the “prevailing wage” earned by U.S. workers in those lines of work.

H-2B workers are not eligible for unemployment compensation and employers also save by not having to pay for benefits such as health care….Most importantly, a worker who enters the country on an H-2B visa can work for only one employer, cannot change jobs while on that visa, and is not entitled to higher wages than those agreed to at the time of hiring.

But the writer is aware of the J-1 and has found a competent critic of both:

Greg Schell, a Florida Legal Services attorney who has defended guest workers in disputes with employers, says the visas are overused in Florida.

He says that in one case, the Naples-area owner of Subway sandwich shops received permission to bring in Jamaican H-2B workers to staff his counters. “You`re telling me you can`t find people to work in a Subway or to work as waiters?”

Schell says the provision that ties H-2B workers to one employer helps keep local “prevailing wages” down. “The employers use H-2B workers because it turns out cheaper for them,” he says. “Those workers can`t change jobs and look for better wages and better situations elsewhere.”…

“The J-1 visa is also a scam,” Schell says. “It was founded as a cultural exchange program during the Kennedy years, but those people just come to work.”

Extremely unusually, this article actually got a response from local Minority leaders

Palm Beach County employers not seriously seeking local labor, activists charge By JOHN LANTIGUA THE PALM BEACH POST SATURDAY JUNE 18, 2011

Leaders in the Palm Beach County minority community are calling for changes to procedures that country clubs and resorts use to import hundreds of foreign workers every year, and say they can supply U.S. citizens to fill those jobs.

One community leader called for abolition of the “guest worker” program.…leaders of local NAACP and Urban League chapters, as well as the executive director of the Hispanic Human Resources Council, said this week that those employers are not seriously recruiting workers locally, at a time when the county`s unemployment rate is over 10 percent and at least twice that in the minority communities.

The man with the good idea?

Jorge Avellana of the Hispanic Human Resources Council sent letters of protest Thursday …”I was very disturbed on Sunday morning when reading The Palm Beach Post,” Avellana wrote in his letters. “I found out that many local businesses are importing unskilled labor from Romania South Africa and other countries to work in the tourism business at the expense of the American workers.

“I hope that the Senate and Congress will repeal the H-2B visa and force the local industry to hire local workers,” he said.

Unfortunately it seems Mr. Avellana is new to this field and doesn`t know the territory. He wrote to

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Republican, and to U.S. Reps. Allen West, R-Plantation; Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta; Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; and Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar

On the NumbersUSA scorecard, Nelson is D-, Ted Deutch F- and Alcee Hastings F-. The Republicans are much better, Tom Rooney A- and Allen West is A- although MSM darling new Senator Marco Rubio is (ominously) “Failed to Act” .

So what is going on here? Why are these stories suddenly appearing after a very frustrating silence?

The answer may be given in Foreign student work program: New rules, same problems By HOLBROOK MOHR, MITCH WEISS Associated Press June 20, 2011
This story discusses the J-1 Visa program exclusively from the point of view of the foreign recipients

The State Department is publicly acknowledging that one of its most popular exchange programs leaves foreign college students vulnerable to exploitation, but it`s unclear if new regulations the agency is pushing will do enough to stop the abuses…

Students visiting under J-1 visas make ideal victims since they are here temporarily and may not know how to seek help. An Associated Press investigation published six months ago found that many participants paid thousands of dollars to come to the U.S., only to learn the jobs they were promised didn`t exist. Some had to share beds in crowded houses or apartments, charged so much for lodging and transportation that they took home no pay. Others turned to the sex industry, while some sought help from homeless shelters

It transpires

…the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank…plans to publish a report on the program

The Economic Policy Institute is a left-leaning outfit which, however, retains an old-fashioned interest in the welfare of the working class. No doubt its political credentials make the subject respectable.

GOP Congresscritters, please take note!

AP has a live one here. Their story is worth reading. The J-1 Visa abuses of these visiting young people are a disgrace to America and a condemnation of the State Department.

And that is before considering the economic damage to American workers and the annual $650 Mm it costs taxpayers to administer.

This J-1 scandal should be shut down forthwith.