A Computer Consultant Father Worries About His Son

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School Nurse Sends a Post-Christmas Report From Occupied

Richard Armstrong

I am writing this appeal as an
independent computer consultant being hurt by the H-1B
program, and the father of a son who wants to follow in
his father`s footsteps. I have 18 years of experience in
the computer industry, and have always kept my skills
current with industry trends and technology. My client
recently told me that even though I was doing a
fantastic job, I had to lower my contracting rate
significantly, or face losing my job because there were
plenty of H-1B programmers who would

take my job for less money.
I had to take this
significant cut in pay and hold onto this current
contract because there is too much artificial
competition from H-1B aliens in the computer industry.
This contract ends in two months, and I expect that I
will be on the street for quite some time, and might
have to change careers and leave the computer industry.

My son is 16 years old, and has
been working with computers since he was 5 years old. He
already holds industry certification as an Internet
computer programmer, and builds websites for his school
and other organizations. He is proficient in two
computer-programming languages, and has a 4.0 average in
high school. He wants to follow in his dad`s footsteps,
and attend college to pursue a software engineering
degree. I could not be more proud of him.

But I don`t know what to tell him.
My worst fear is that his dream of working in the
computer industry will be crushed by the H-1B program.
The H-1B program has already closed the doors for me,
and I am facing a potential career change. I just don`t
know if this problem will go away in the next 5 years,
because H-1B aliens can stay for 6 years, and the
government is importing 195,000 H-1B aliens annually for
the next 3 years.

The H-1B program is a

high-tech guest worker visa program
. Its purpose was
to temporarily hire aliens to cover a presumed shortage
of technical workers, including programmers. There is no
such shortage, there never was a shortage, and there is
nothing temporary about our government bringing in
600,000 additional aliens to take American high-tech
jobs over the next three years.

The H-1B program does not provide
adequate safeguards for U.S. workers, and does not take
into consideration a downturn of the economy. Any
company, once it hires an H-1B alien, can let an
American worker go. Companies can (and do) continue to
hire H-1B aliens even though qualified American workers
are standing in unemployment lines.

The H-1B program decreases
opportunities for all those in the computer field,
foreign workers and native workers, consultants and
full-time employees alike, by artificially lowering the
prevailing rates and wages. This in turn makes it less
appealing for American citizens to seek degrees in
high-tech industries, and forces our nation to become
dependent upon foreign sources of high-tech workers.

The H-1B program is rampant with
fraud and abuse, primarily by foreign recruitment
agencies. These abuses are well known internally within
our industry. However, the number of documented cases is
small because collusion is high between

companies desiring cheap labor
and H-1B agencies.

The few protections built into the
law are completely ineffective. The law states that H-1B
holders who get laid off are deemed "out of status" and
have 10 days to leave the country. However, many H-1B
holders are unidentified and remain in the U.S. until
the next assignment is found and such "extraordinary
circumstances" are documented as are necessary. 

The U.S. job market for technical
professionals has taken a serious dive. In the last few
months, technology companies have cut more than 150,000
jobs. The unemployment rate for technical professionals
has nearly tripled. Over 8.2 million Americans are now
out of work.

I call on the President and members
of Congress to eliminate the H-1B visa program, and not
rely upon aliens to provide our technology workforce.
When we have high-tech workers on our own hemisphere and
in our own states, we should hire them instead of
importing aliens.

 February 02, 2002