Dear All,The latest Quinnipiac poll reports President Biden’s approval rating at one of the lowest ever. This is especially profound as during times of crisis Americans typically rally behind their leader. Currently, only 38% of Americans approve of the job the president is doing, 55% disapprove and 7% don’t know.
The disapproval stems from his handling of the economy; not unexpected given the current high rate of inflation and its impact on household staples and gasoline prices. Many low-wage workers who were enjoying rising wages and increased benefits from a tight labor market have seen their gains evaporate.
That said though, not everyone has been harmed. In fact, some of our elites are benefitting. Several corporations are using rising inflation as a convenient excuse to justify price hikes and boost their profit margins. Adding further insult to injury, a few executives have argued that inflation and high gas prices are a good thing because they erode people’s disposable income and diminish their wage-bargaining power. In essence, people become desperate and hold on to their jobs for fear of rising costs and general economic uncertainty.
It’s no surprise, corporations love discovering novel ways to reduce labor costs. It’s why they like off-shoring jobs to low rent countries and the H-1B visa program. Both approaches allow them to import cheap indentured workers, which they use to displace U.S. workers. And over time, they often ship those same jobs that were given to H-1B visa workers, to a low rent country.
If Congress wanted to, it could curtail these abuses by ending programs like the H-1B and Optional Practical Training (OPT). But whether it’s incompetence, corruption or the embrace of an ideology that happily kicks American workers to the curb, they appear to be paralyzed.
In desperate economic times like these, one might think a Democratic administration would want to curtail abuses. They could step in and fix the H-1B visa program through executive fiat, demonstrate they’re on the side of workers, and possibly buoy up their cascading approval ratings.
In an article published in the Jacobin, professors Ron Hira and Hal Salzman along with Attorney Daniel Costa provided specific actions President Biden could take to curb H-1B visa program abuses:
1. Remove the random lottery and prioritize H-1B selection based on highest wages:
The current system randomly selects H-1B applicants through a lottery and there’s no prioritization for an applicant’s wage level. It’s quite literally the worst process for selecting the “best and brightest”. Biden should instruct U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) propose a rule change that replaces the annual random lottery selection process with one that prioritizes those earning the highest wages. A wage-based selection process will incent employers to offer foreign workers higher wages if they truly believe they’re worthy of visa sponsorship for the specialized skills they possess.
2. Increase the prevailing wage levels:
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that 60% of H-1B visas certified in fiscal year 2019 were assigned the two lowest prevailing wage levels. Those wage levels set by the US Department of Labor (USDOL) are significantly less than the median wage for those occupations. In fact they are so low that the USDOL estimates that the current status quo allows a wealth transfer of $10 to $15 billion per year from H-1B workers to employers. Biden should instruct the USDOL to implement a rule change that raises the prevailing wage levels closer to the median.
3. Close the outsourcing loophole:
The largest users of the H-1B visa program are IT outsourcing firms that “lease” H-1B workers to employers for short and long term work. Employers benefit greatly from this arrangement through decreased labor costs. They can lay off their W-2 employees and replace them with H-1B workers who aren’t entitled to benefits or severance when employment is terminated. It’s a loophole that’s making a total mockery of the H-1B visa program and it’s costing many Americans their jobs. It can be fixed through the formal rule-making process by requiring that IT outsourcing firms maintain day-to-day control of H-1Bs working at employer sites.
4. Prosecuting H-1B abuse and wage theft:
Under the Trump administration, the USCIS set up an H-1B abuse email tip-line which allowed U.S. and foreign workers to report employers. In the first year, over 5,000 tips were received. The Biden administration ended the tip-line but should revive it and instruct federal agencies to investigate employers they suspect of wage theft and of gaming the qualifying requirements for the PERM (employment-based Green Card) process.
These fixes to the H-1B visa program should sound familiar. They were proposed during the final months of the Trump administration and sadly their progress has been blocked. Biden appointees have filed multiple lawsuits claiming these rules violate the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
If Biden wants to show he cares about U.S. workers, he must cut through the open borders cabal running his administration and force rule changes that will protect Americans. While he may not be able to curb inflation, he can turn his focus to raising wages and one of the most effective ways to do so is by reducing immigration.
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