Foreign labor hurts blacks
By Joe Guzzardi
When low-wage, H-1B visa holders displace American citizens, Congress is mum. But at the mere threat that illegal aliens designated as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACAs) might lose their jobs, the most high-powered in Congress spare no effort to defend them.
More than 35 U.S. representatives signed a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan that demanded a DACA amnesty. And McClatchy reported that a senior Democratic legislative aide said, “DACA is priority 1, 2 and 3.”
Yet, when H-1B visa holders displace Americans who have provided years of service and earned good performance reviews at Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Microsoft, Southern California Edison, the University of California and dozens of other institutions, it’s merely a footnote in the news, if that.
Simply stated, American engineers lose their jobs because their replacements come cheaper. More than half of H-1B workers earn the Level One, basic skill wage. As for industry claims that not enough qualified Americans are available to fill available information technology (IT) jobs, recent studies by the respected, nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research, RAND Corp. and Urban Institute all found colleges and universities graduate science and engineering students faster than businesses create jobs in those professions.
The expanding IT labor pool has stagnated salaries. Supply and demand dictates that if there were a domestic labor shortage, wages should increase. Instead, they’ve been flat.
A look into how employers’ craven preference for cheap H-1B labor harms African-Americans, Latinos and women is telling. Last year, the St. Louis Post Dispatch published a column, “Silicon Valley is using H-1B visas to crowd out American minorities.” Author Tom Broadwater, Americans4Work president, wrote that the presence of H-1B visa workers has “especially hurt nonwhite, nonmale native-born Americans.”
One example is the story of Audrey Hatten-Milholin, a 54-year-old black woman who spent 17 years working in the technology department at the University of California, San Francisco. Last February, UCSF laid off Hatten-Milholin and others, and then gave their jobs to younger, male H-1B visa holders from India. Eventually, the H-1Bs will return to India but continue to work for UCSF.
UCSF claims H-1Bs represent a $6 million annual economic benefit. Critics note, however, that the $6 million total is a tiny fraction of UCSF’s $5.4 billion yearly budget, and that providing competent service to patients and doctors in San Francisco from more than 8,000 miles away in India is impossible. In November, Hatten- Milholin and several of her laid-off colleagues filed a discrimination suit against the university.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic 1963 “March on Washington” was officially named the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” But today, corporate America shuts out college-educated blacks from high-paying jobs in favor of cheap, imported labor, a disgrace to King and his legacy.