Dr. Norm Matloff: NEW YORK TIMES Article Is "The Most Overt Piece Of Reporting Yet" On Industry Lobbyists Running The Amnesty Show
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May 05, 2013, 08:06 PM
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Dr. Norm Matloff writes to his email list

A few years ago, a congressperson from Texas was asked, in essence, why he was pandering to local industry lobbyists on the H-1B issue.  He replied that they [i. e. the corporations] are constituents, just like people are.  Funny, I don`t see anything in the Constitution on this, the Citizens United case notwithstanding.

Yesterday`s New York Times article, Latest Product From Tech Firms: An Immigration Bill [By Eric Lipton And Somini Sengupta, May 4, 2013] is the most overt piece of reporting yet to show how much the industry lobbyists are running the show.  It is also the most overt one to show the scapegoating of the Indian firms.

The article seems to hint that the authors find the industry`s buying of Congress outrageous, fine, but they are still falling down on the job. First, they fail to see just how broad the scope is of the Gang of 8 legislation regarding foreign tech workers.  It would give an automatic green card to any foreign STEM grad student—an unlimited number of green cards, without regard to field, without regard to quality of the student, etc.  All they need is some job offer "related" to their field. The offer would not even be subject to prevailing wage requirements. 

 This would have major consequences, and it is the part of the bill that the industry would most like to have enacted, yet all the article can say is that the bill would make green cards "easier" to get, implying that there is at least some substantial requirements, which is not the case at all.

Granted, H-1B and employer-sponsored green cards are complex topics, but the authors were deceived as to the nature of the tech part of the bill, and one would expect better from the NYT.

More importantly, the reporters took at face value the industry lobbyists` claim that the Indian firms are the main abusers of H-1B and green cards.  As I`ve shown, the abuse pervades the entire industry, including the big-name firms, and in some senses the latter are even worse than the Indian firms.

 Unfortunately, many of the critics of the foreign tech worker programs have unwittingly helped the industry lobbyists by buying into this blame-the-Indians theme.  See my e-newsletter posting on this, here.

(At the time I wrote that, details of the Gang of 8 bill had not yet come out, which turned out to be even worse than I had anticipated.)

But still, the NYT reporters should have questioned the industry lobbyists` scapegoating of the Indians.  Given the NYT`s high sensitivity to ethnic issues (which I support), it`s unfortunate that they are ignoring the industry lobbyists` claim that "only Indians would cheat."  (The "cheating" is entirely legal, and as I said, pervades the entire industry.  Any firm, whether it`s Infosys or Intel, TCS or TI, exploits loopholes in the tax code, and it`s the same for hiring foreign tech workers.)

One huge point missed by the article—and significantly, not understood by many of the critics of foreign tech worker programs—is that THE BILL WOULD MAKE H-1B LARGELY IRRELEVANT FOR THE MAINSTREAM FIRMS.  They would instead rely on the bill`s provision for automatic STEM green cards, and not bother with H-1B sponsorship.  (The foreign workers would work at OPTs while the green card is pending.)  [ note: OPTS refers to "Optional Practice Training", one of the ways employers make use of the labor of foreign STEM graduates who are supposed to be going home. ] So the article, by focusing on H-1B, is missing the point, a distraction which illustrates the beauty of the industry`s blame-the-Indians PR tack.

For all its flaws, the article does exemplify the loss of our democracy. That, in fact, would have made a good headline for the piece.

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