Tech Companies Trying to Keep Immigration Issue on Front Burner

Ann All

Though much of the public debate over this summer's failed immigration bill has cooled down, it remains a hot-button issue for workers in the high-tech industry, many of whom would like to see the issues regarding highly skilled immigrants like themselves treated separately from broader immigration reform.

 

A representative of the Programmers' Guild tells SiliconValley.com that the current green card system is not unlike "indentured servitude," with applicants unable to leave the country or seek a raise unless they are willing to restart the lengthy process.

 

A study produced by researchers at Duke, New York and Harvard universities found that, thanks to a bureaucratic backlog, many applicants must wait seven to 10 years for green cards. There were a half-million immigrant professionals waiting for green cards as of Sept. 30, 2006, plus an additional 555,000 of their family members.

 

The H-1B visa system is similarly overwhelmed. Immigration officials were forced to stop taking applications after the number filed by businesses on the first day the government accepted them exceeded the cap two times over.

 

Legislators have seemed eager to put the immigration reform behind them as elections approach. But tech companies and their employees continue to stage protests and otherwise lobby to keep the issue on the front burner.


 

A possible result of a continued impasse on the issue is companies hiring workers in other countries. Google hired 70 new employees overseas this year when it was unable to obtain visas for them. Microsoft cited immigration problems as one reason it chose to open a new software development facility in Canada earlier this year.

 

Though high-tech firms have been quite vocal about H-1Bs and other immigration issues, a CIO.com columnist points out that few CIOs appear to want to register an opinion. Maybe it's because the execs have little to gain by stating such opinions, and risk hacking off their employees, vendors and others, she writes.

 

Tech companies are unhappy with the U.S. Senate's recent approval of a proposed $3,500 fee increase for companies submitting H-1B applications, reports InformationWeek. Ironically, the approval took place on the same day that the European Union announced a plan for a "blue card" that would expedite the immigration process for skilled foreign professionals.

 

The fee increase must be approved by the House of Representatives before it becomes law. Money from the increase would be earmarked to fund scholarships for U.S. students in computer science, engineering and other areas.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 2, 2007 2:07 AM Rob Sanchez Rob Sanchez  says:
I just published an article for CIO magazine that has more on the H-1B vs green card controversy -- it's called Wadhwamania. Check it out at:http://advice.cio.com/rob_sanchez/wadhwamania Reply
Nov 2, 2007 8:00 AM Bob Bob  says:
Of course tech companies want Immigration of the front burner : They need more immgrant labor! Isn't is all about how NOT to hire an American worker??HUH??Go checkwww.youtube.com/programmersguildand for some real truth on the H-1B issue!www.eng-i.com/E-Newsletters.htm Reply
Nov 2, 2007 9:15 AM MAD MAD  says:
Its amazing how much of this whole hidden outsourcing agenda isn't known or the concern of the general public. There seems to be quite a bit of apathy both in non-IT circles and even in IT circles also, that is of course until your job is offshored or replaced by a visa worker - then you become quite invovled. Its time US - IT and Engineering workers organized before they find themselves working for in a department store or worse. Reply
Nov 2, 2007 12:35 PM whoa whoa  says:
Surprising no one from the Guild has added their 2 cents yet! Reply
Nov 4, 2007 8:04 AM jhm jhm  says:
Ten questions for those who believe the H-1B is about a shortage of Americans to do the job:1. If corporations get all the H-1Bs and green cards they want, can the long term consequence be anything other than total dependence on foreigners for technology? 2. Is Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, wrong? He testified to Congress: Simply producing more engineers and scientists may not be the answer because the labor market for those workers will simply reflect lower wages or, perhaps, greater unemployment for those workers.3. Is Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University, a supported of more foreign workers (he is one), wrong? He says the problem isn't the supply, it's the demandwe have enough engineers and scientists. The problem is that the salaries aren't there.4. Why are law firms, like the notorious Cohen & Grigsby, holding seminars on how to legally avoid hiring qualified Americans? Lawrence Lebowitzs famous quote explaining of the PERM application process to employers. "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker, and that, in a sense, sounds funny, but it's what we are trying to do here."5. Shortage at what price? My undergraduate economics professor made a big deal about it not making economic sense to claim a shortage without a price. For example, claiming that is a shortage of good five cent cigars makes sense. A claim that there is a shortage of cigars is foolish. There is no doubt that there is a shortage of college graduate programmers at $20,000 a year, is there a shortage at what the average American programmer makes? So the question is at what price? 6. If there is a shortage why are real wages going down?7. Why is it that those employers who claim a shortage of American tech workers laying off so many of them? 8. Is socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrong? He says "What many of us have come to understand is that these H-1B visas are not being used to supplement the American workforce where we have shortages but, rather, H-1B visas are being used to replace American workers with lower cost foreign workers,"9. Is Nobel economist Milton Friedman wrong when he says the H-1B is a subsidy? He said "There is no doubt, that the [H-1B] program is a benefit to their employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a subsidy." 10. Why not end the H-1B and other work visas and allow a free market solution? An increasing wage will attract more workers to science and engineering and solve any supply shortage that MAY exist. Free markets do not have shortages. Reply
Nov 6, 2007 11:14 AM Deepak Deepak  says:
The H-1B visas serve a multitude of industries. Not just the IT and Electronics industries. Any amount of reform or abolishment or taxation does not make sense unless and until disparate fields are recognized and the fields that have experienced abuse are treated separately. The senate leaders of the most powerful country are so short-sighted in treating the H-1b issue as a homogenous one. Address the IT and electronics industries separately and allow other industries which also by the way, are important for the economy to function normally. Companies employ foreign labor not only for the reason of shortage, but also because American Universities graduate foreign students who are bright. How about dealing with visa applicants from overseas separately?It's incredible how "leader" are seeing things only in 2-D. Reply
Nov 7, 2007 10:34 AM John John  says:
The Immigrant Labor is only about huge profits for the employers. To quote another reader, "many applicants must wait seven to 10 years for green cards. There were a half-million immigrant professionals waiting for green cards as of Sept. 30, 2006, plus an additional 555,000 of their family members.", I didn't even think about who is going to follow these people around the nation to make sure they leave when their visas expire.I have US Citizenship and have been under-employed or unemployed for nearly 7 years. In 7 to 10 years, certainly 2 or 3 million US citizens born here can be trained and educated at US colleges and univerisites through graduate schoo and beyondl to fill those positions. US employers have gotten used to discounting 30% to 50% labor cost for technical services by employing immigrant labor. The result is a diluted American culture where billions of dollars are sent off shore and not reinvested here. Reply
Dec 17, 2007 10:00 AM Thomas Thomas  says:
Just a little logic will tell you what the H1B program does.The law of supply and demand applies to labor.When supply increases or demand decreases the price of a commodity(like labor) goes down. Producers make less, supply decreases and the price reaches a balance. It's a nice feedback system that works well, It's called Capitalism and Free trade.When Government interferes in the Free market that is socialism or Communism.The Cheap visa indentured servants who lack the rights of Americans to change jobs, join unions, negotiate salaries, and who are baited with the Carrot of U.S. citizenship and the favorable exchange rate.More Visas = greater supply of engineers= lower wages = less Americans entering field = lobbying for more cheap labor H1B's.....Less visas = increased wages for engineers = Americans entering field = Less visas needed.The companies who whine about the lack of engineers are the same ones who glorify free trade with country's that have lower standards of living, and few if any enforced labor or environmental laws. Reply
Feb 19, 2008 10:56 AM Sean Sean  says:
Immigration Fraud for Federal Dollars, Socialism and Greencards A feminist immigration advocacy group called "Civil Society Helps" and attorney Martha J. Sullivan help perpetuate fraud against U.S. citizens and the United States of America for financial, ideological and political gain. Civil Society Helps is funded by government programs such as VAWA ( Violence Against Women Act ). VAWA is commonly used as a business plan to bring federal funds ($3.6 Billion authorized in 2005) to immigration advocacy groups, feminist groups and attorneys who specialize in immigration fraud to expedite a residency seeker's immigration process. Can you say aiding and abetting? What about embezzlement of federal funds?With false accusations from an immigrant residency seeker, a stable American citizen can be reduced to living in poverty. All of your assets can be seized and given to the immigrant even if you are not found guilty. You will immediately be forced to surrender a portion of your income to the immigrant. The courts may also order you to turn your motor vehicle over to the immigrant even if the immigrant does not have a driver's license or insurance.Under VAWA and false accusations, your immigrant spouse becomes legal and you become illegal. The court system will abuse you and strip you of your rights and assets while social programs that promote immigration fraud thrive.The primary motivation for these advocacy groups is of course financial gain. However, these groups also have auxiliary political and social agendas as well. Civil Society Helps sounds nice and peachy, but their ideology is skewed towards extreme feminism and socialism. Their goals of "equality" are achieved by unconstitutionally stripping a man of his possessions and home without due process or any finding of guilt. Their support for the immigrant community buys votes for the likes of Hillary Clinton who supports VAWA and immigration which supports the likes of the Civil Society. The States and the court system ( divorce industry ) is in cahoots as well as they also get a chunk of this VAWA money. Are you starting to see the big picture now?The immigration loopholes VAWA provides were intentionally designed with feminist malice and profits in mind. VAWA is a billion dollar business which oppresses men for financial, political and ideological gain. Supply and demand is important to all businesses and there is a high demand for U.S. residency. Groups that knowingly facilitate immigration and/or VAWA fraud need to be held accountable. Players in MinnesotaCivil Society Helps1st National Bank Building332 Minnesota St, Suite E-1436Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101Phone: 651.291.0713Fax: 651.291.2588Web: http://civilsocietyhelps.org/Attorney Martha J. SullivanPhone: 651.438.99921317 Vermillion StreetHastings, Minnesota 55033Web: http://www.marthasullivanlaw.com/Casa de Esperanza ( Hope House )1515 East Lake StreetMinneapolis, Minnesota 55407Phone: 651.646.5553Web: http://www.casadeesperanza.org/ Reply

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