When President Trump signed his Executive Order that banned federal contractors from hiring foreign-born H-1B visa holders, an historic moment occurred in the three-decade long effort to protect American workers’ jobs. The president’s order will require all federal agencies to complete an internal audit to assess whether they’re in compliance with the requirement that such agencies only hire U.S. citizens.
To add muscle to his Executive Order, President Trump promised “to take firm disciplinary action” against federally affiliated Tennessee Valley Authority officials who had abused the visa. The president fired two TVA Board of Directors’ members, chairman James Thompson and Richard Howorth, and asked the BOD to dismiss Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Lyash who has a compensation package totaling more than $8M annually. If the BOD doesn’t fire Lyash, America’s highest paid federal employee, the president promised that the White House would.
For the first time in recent memory, American workers were present at a White House jobs-related press conference. U.S. tech workers and Kevin Lynn, the founder of the nonprofit U.S. Tech Workers (USTW) that represents them, were among President Trump’s invitees. USTW had aired an ad that brought to President Trump’s attention the firing and outsourcing of skilled U.S. employees’ jobs, and the replacement of these workers with H-1Bs after the dismissed Americans had to endure the humiliating experience of training their less-adept replacements. President Trump described the TVA process, a model that hundreds of other major corporations have adopted over the last 30 years, as a “disastrous and heartless decision” which rubs salt into their [the U.S. workers] very open wounds.”
Many factors have contributed to the rampant displacement of U.S. workers, mostly in tech-related jobs, but also in marketing, accounting and financial analysis. Chemists, medical doctors, biologists, teachers, therapists, surveyors and architects have all been impacted by the H-1B visa. In short, these job categories and jobs represent white-collar opportunities that U.S. college graduates aspire to. Instead, too many of those jobs are unfairly awarded to less-costly foreign nationals.
Congress is completely onboard with favoring overseas workers above U.S. citizens. Congress’ highest ranking officials, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have unfailingly voted against reducing unnecessary employment-based visas, most prominently the H-1B. Retiring Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, with a pro-foreign worker voting record equally shameful to that of McConnell, Pelosi and Schumer, defended Lyash’s exorbitant salary.
The H-1B visa lobby is deep-pocketed and influential. Among the more vocal are Immigration Voice which coordinates with Compete America, a coalition whose nearly 40 powerful members include entities like Amazon, American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Association of American Universities that lists as its collaborators Brown, Dartmouth, Carnegie Mellon, Duke, Harvard and Stanford, as well as 57 other colleges you may hope your children are fortunate enough to attend, but are likely pre-disposed to denying their admission. The AAU also names Deloitte, Ernst and Young, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and PayPal as favoring international students and workers ahead of Americans.
Unchecked American worker displacement wouldn’t have happened without a mostly complicit establishment media which has ignored the collective negative effects that H-1B displacement has had on U.S. workers. Nationwide, an estimated 600,000 H-1Bs are currently employed. Taken in its totality over the last three decades, the loss of millions of American jobs whose workers’ ages range from early-30s to early middle-age is an unspeakable tragedy. Workers who once spent their entire careers with a single employer are left jobless, and with few opportunities to find employment in a labor market that favors H-1B workers. The displaced workers are left to fend for themselves to pay for mortgages, college tuitions and other routine household expenses.
President Trump’s TVA smackdown is heartening, not only to the TVA workers, but other Americans ensnared in the vicious web of the H-1B. The president must go further, and extend his June Executive Order that paused H-1B and other employment-based visa entries until the end of 2020. By extending his visa pause through 2021, President Trump can tangibly evaluate how dependent – if at all – the U.S. is on foreign labor. Educated guess: President Trump will learn that no imported labor is necessary; America will get along just fine with its own skilled workers.