Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Donald Trump to sign executive order reforming controversial H-1B visa program

President Donald Trump. Reuters. 

Donald Trump is scheduled to sign an executive order that will reform the United States controversial H-1B visa program, that allows foreign workers to fill high skilled jobs. Reuters. The H-1B program awards, via a lottery, to allow 65,000 workers and 20,000 graduate student workers in to work in jobs like computer science, engineering and scientific research. The program has come under major criticism because many of the workers replace US citizens and are often awarded to outsourcing firms. Many of the workers that are brought in are paid less then what American citizens would be for the same job. Trump's executive order will call on the Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to propose reforms that would ensure that the jobs go to the most qualified and most paid workers and to crack down on fraud and abuse. 

My Comment:
This executive order was long overdue and I am happy that Donald Trump is signing it in my home state today. The H-1B system has been deeply flawed. It was originally a law that was intended to bring skilled workers in from other countries when our own country didn't have the talent needed to fill a position. It was supposed to be an option of last resort to only be used when companies were completely unable to hire a US citizen for highly skilled labor. I think there is a place for that kind of immigration and I don't have a problem with stealing the best talent of other countries in fields where we are weak. As long as the system isn't abused it can have some real upsides

Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case lately. Many of these visas are being issued to people that will work for much cheaper than the current workers will and they often replace existing workers. Often those US workers were forced to endure the indignity of training the very foreign workers that were taking their jobs. 

This was usually seen as a win-win for the companies that brought in these workers. Not only did they have to pay their workers less, the level of quality wasn't expected to drop too much. After all, an Indian can code as well as an American and they can do it cheaper.

I'm not sure how true that is. From what I understand many of the workers hired under the H-1B program were significantly worse than the workers they were replacing. Not all of them, but enough that people were even more disgusted. Trying to get work done for cheap is rarely worth it and often backfires. 

Regardless, the H-1B program was part of a disturbing trend where foreigners were taking jobs that US citizens really did want to work. And these weren't fast food or farm labor jobs, they were white collar, good paying jobs that were mostly for the upper and middle classes. Jobs you needed a four year degree, or more, to work. Engineers, IT specialists and scientists were being replaced by foreigners. Tent-pole businesses, like Twitter, Facebook and Disney depend on these visas and have used them to avoid hiring US workers. 

Needless to say, many of those American workers effected by this program hated it and felt it was a massive betrayal not only by their companies but by their government as well. Not only did they find out that their talent wasn't needed anymore because the company found a cheaper alternative, they also had the government helping the company at every step of the way.

This kind of thing is a large reason why Donald Trump was elected. Even though my job is not really at risk from H-1B visa holders, I do worry that a foreigner could replace me, even though I work in a totally different field. Seeing it happen to people way above me in social class and income made me think that if nobody cared when people that "matter" are getting screwed over with impunity, what chance does a little guy like me have? 

That reaction is a partial reason for why I voted for Trump and I think a lot of voters also supported him because of that. He was the one speaking out about these abuses and immigration in general. People hate to feel cheated and for someone who's job is at risk to foreigners, it feels like their employers are cheating horribly when they hire someone from outside the country to fill a job that an American citizen can or already does work for a bit more money. 

The fact that Trump is signing this executive order is a good start and a sign that Trump is keeping his promises on immigration. Overall, as a voter who supported Trump in the election partially because of his stance on immigration, I am happy with what he has done. Not only is he reforming the H-1B program, he is also deporting criminals and cracking down on sanctuary cities. And he is at least attempting to build the wall, even though he is facing some resistance in congress. Though the media is portraying Trump as a promise breaker, on immigration at the very least, he is keeping them. 

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