Is the New Immigration Proposal Truly Merit-Based or Just a Repackaging of Foreign Labor Dumping?

President Donald Trump in his May 16, 2019, immigration policy speech alluded to, but did not specifically refer to, as he did in his May 20, 2019, Pennsylvania speech, Buy American and Hire American.

This was surprising, since Buy American and Hire American were part of Trump’s cardinal campaign promises and addressed in an early (April 2017) Executive Order. This seemed an obvious omission from his new policy introduction if the president is indeed serious about Hire American. The new proposal supports the continued flow of foreign workers, just with a different spin on what type of workers, and no reduction in foreign numbers.

Bringing in more foreign workers does not obviate the law of supply and demand. If the current level of Green Cards (about 1.1 million per year) is not reduced under the proposed “merit-based” policy, then moving from about 12 percent to 57 percent merit will actually hurt American citizens’ opportunities in our labor market, especially educated professionals, including STEM/IT tech workers.

Hire American Opposition inside the Administration

This percentage “flip” may be an attempt to circumvent country quota caps for Indian citizens who have been lobbying Congress to pass H.R. 1044/S. 386 and retain H-4 EAD work status, created by Executive Order under the Obama administration. Certainly, this seems a deft attempt by the globalist foreign labor dumpers and those inside the administration, such as former lobbyist Chad Wolf, along with Paul Ray in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and Mick Mulvaney in the Office of Management & Budget, among others, whose views contrast with Hire American, making them de facto lobbyists for India. The results of the flip would be to essentially double white-collar foreign worker dumping into our labor market, where tech and white-collar American-born professionals have experienced significant job displacement, offshoring of jobs, and overall wage stagnation and suppression for years.

To achieve the Hire American campaign promise, switching percentages to merit must be accompanied by:

  • An overall reduction of the current 1.1 million Green Cards.
  • A drastic reduction from the current 600,000 to 700,000 nonimmigrant visas currently issued each year.

All totaled, we have nearly 2 million new foreign workers given entrée to the U.S. every year, like clockwork, regardless of the economy and labor market conditions.

But beyond the obvious issue of sheer overall numbers, how will “merit” be implemented? Most current foreign grad students and H-1B foreign workers are not exceptional. Neither are they paid the median wage, suggesting the enthusiasm for foreign workers is more about cheap, foreign labor dumping. Given President Trump is quite familiar with the concept of dumping – foreign steel dumping, aluminum dumping – he should know it’s happening with labor as well.

Hardship stories have been reported of top-notch researchers or accomplished academics being denied H-1B visa renewals. This might be remedied by the percentage flip in the new policy proposal, but policy should not be based on the rare exceptions. As well, universities and research organizations are exempt from H-1B caps, and, as with corporations, there’s evidence that graduate students and researchers are being exploited and used as cheap labor.

The Build America Visa

“We will replace the existing Green Card categories with a new visa, the Build America visa – which is what we all want to hear,” President Trump said. That line is a hard one to take, given we already have more than 80 visa categories and classifications! We don’t need another whack-a-mole, alphabet-soup visa program. We already have the H-1B, H-4 EAD, O, L,OPT, J and E visas, And we have EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5 Green Cards. Like we need another visa?

President Trump referenced this globalist labor-dumping talking point:

“Some of the most skilled students at our world-class universities are going back home because they have no relatives to sponsor them here in the United States. And that’s the only way. We want these exceptional students and workers to stay, and flourish, and thrive in America.”

After this setup, the globalist open borders contingent will add the punchline, as former Vice President Joe Biden said in 2013:

“Every one of those kids as they cross the stage at the university this May or June should have a Green Card stamped to their diploma.”

Yet another iteration of this is: If these students are so good, they should be eligible for the O visa.

But President Trump mentioned nothing about potential cybersecurity risks in allowing foreign students to stay and study. And he mentioned nothing about the OPT perverse tax incentive to hire foreign students over young American graduates and older experienced professionals. Cybersecurity, espionage and foreign students, especially from China, have been a repeated concern in the public discourse. Foreign students and cybersecurity issues are linked concerns that must be addressed in any visa/Green Card program.

President Trump said he met with farmers and business executives. But how will he know what the impact of his new merit-based immigration plan will be if he also doesn’t meet with American STEM/IT tech workers?

Mr. President, let’s have that meeting! Time to meet and hear from American STEM/tech workers!