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Dr. Norm Matloff:"The Candidates On H-1B"
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August 25, 2009, 04:22 PM
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Dr. Norm Matloff writes:

The Candidates On H-1B

No, you did not accidentally open a message from me dated last October. :-) There really are candidates involved, as I will explain, but first, please bear with me.

I do not endorse political candidates in this e-newsletter, as I don`t consider that to be proper. However, I do analyze their positions on H-1B and offshoring, and have written about the politics—money politics, that is—of those topics.

As I`ve mentioned before, I`m a lifelong Democrat, but on the H-1B issue, both major parties are culpable, succumbing to pressure from a variety of groups having vested interests in the visa—industry CEOs, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the university lobby and so on. And in addition to campaign contributions, many in Congress have the gut feeling that the tech industry is the last bastion of American economic power, so "don`t mess with it," e.g. by reforming H-1B. Indeed, as some people who call their senators and representatives tell me, many on the Hill are rather closed-minded on the issue. The excellent bipartisan Durbin/Grassley bill in the Senate is a welcome exception, but there were no cosponsors to the bill, last I heard.

In that sense, H-1B is a microcosm for the current ills of our democratic process. Monied lobbyists and DC insiders run the show. As such, an analysis of the politics involved is worthwhile, even though this is an election only for a specific congressional district.

As it happens, it is my district. The current office holder, Ellen Tauscher, has resigned in order to accept a position in the Obama administration, so we now have an election to replace her. There is an excellent information page on the election in Wikipedia, here.

Also, you can read a posting I made to my e-mail list early this year on the political mess, complete with quotes from two politicians admitting that Congress voted for a higher H-1B cap in 2000 primarily due to campaign contributions from the industry, and with some material on Tauscher, here.

Well, last Saturday, a man who is a family member of one of the candidates was canvassing for votes in my neighborhood. He stopped at my house, so I asked him the candidate`s stance on H-1B. He didn`t know, but called the candidate, and then informed me that the candidate had said, "Many CEOs in Silicon Valley have told me that we have a shortage of programmers and engineers, so we need H-1Bs." This of course is the standard line for those already holding office, but I was startled to see that the industry had apparently talked to each of the candidates already.

Meanwhile, a reader of this e-newsletter who also lives in the district tells me that one candidate, Anthony Woods, actually does favor reform of H-1B. She e-mailed me his message, which I`m enclosing below. Without sounding negative about the reader, which I do not intend, I must note here that I have not verified this message as coming from Woods. It is not on his campaign Web page. But I believe it is genuine, and I assume a summary will soon be added to Woods` Web page. (If so, I will send out an update message, in fairness to him.)

I must say that I`m disturbed to see that Woods` Web site does say the following: "...we must reform our visa system to make it easier for talented minds from all over the world to contribute to American industries and research institutions." This is the "instant green card" idea, which is just as harmful as H-1B, as I`ve explained before. The reason I`m disturbed to see that is that someone seems to have "educated" Woods too—probably the Democratic Party.

I feel the need to reiterate that I`m not endorsing Woods, either directly or by some nefarious scheme to endorse him on the sly by making a disclaimer to the contrary. :-) I don`t know whom I`ll vote for yet, though it`s a safe bet that it won`t be the one whose family member came to my door last Saturday. :-)

Norm

Woods` message:

There is an urgent need for Comprehensive Visa reform in this country. It is time to stop large corporations from discriminating against Americans and permanent residents to save money by hiring guest workers on H-1B Visas at a lower wage than existing workers. Senate Bill 887, introduced by Senator Richard Durbin, is a fine step toward solving these problems. This bill would require employers to make a good faith effort to hire Americans first, stop the practice of "H-1B Only" ads for potential employees, prevent H-1B and L-1 workers from exceeding 50% of an employer`s labor force, and provide for auditing and accountability for all companies who participate in the H-1B program. I support this legislation and hope that it is a part of any comprehensive immigration reform package. At a time when unemployment is soaring and our nation is facing the worst recession in decades, we must pass legislation like this to ensure that Americans have a chance to compete for American jobs, so that employers don`t simply outsource on our own soil. I hope you will join me in this campaign, so that I can work to bring common sense solutions like this to the United States Congress. Sincerely, Anthony Woods