President Obama's comment that "the H-1B should be reserved only for those companies who say they cannot find somebody in that particular field," has slipped the time bomb we need to destroy the widespread corporate discrimination against US talent in high tech industries.
This was President Obama's common sense answer to Jennifer Wedel, the 29-year-old wife of an unemployed, yet highly-skilled engineer, who asked "why does the government continue to issue and extend H-1B visas when there are tons of Americans just like my husband with no job?"
The media coverage surrounding a topic rarely discussed in the popular press is providing us a "teachable moment" to urge re-introduction and passage of the Seek American Talent First Act. Can we finally shake off the impression that it is "vaguely racist" to ask for the right to compete for job openings we are qualified to do in our own country?
The H1-b is, in fact, mostly reserved only for those corporations that never have to say they cannot find Americans! Examples are Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Texas Instruments to name a few. They don't seek Americans first. And the law doesn't make them.
Knowing that Americans would find this reprehensible, tech companies have hidden this fact from the American public and even Congressional members.
The H1-b, and all other corporate immigration programs, have restored employment discrimination. These programs have allowed corporations to force us to train our foreign replacements and outsource our jobs of the future.
IT industries have never adhered to EEO recruiting and hiring programs. In fact, they openly flaunted these programs. Silicon Valley now has fewer White, Black, Hispanic and Female IT professionals than in 2000. Black Computer Science graduates essentially reached parity in 2006; no longer can they be dismissed as an “under-represented minority”, according to the Nov/Dec 2008 issue of NSBE Magazine/Career Engineer. Age discrimination is rampant.
Here's what Senator Durbin said on the introduction of the original H1-b and L-1 refrom bill on the Senate floor on May , 2007.
"Our bill would require that before an employer may hire an H -1B worker, the employer must first advertise the job opening to American workers for 30 days on the Department of Labor Web site."
"Some companies that abuse the H -1B visa program are so brazen, they say “no Americans need apply” in their job advertisements. Hundreds of such ads have been posted on line. They say things such as “H -1B visa holders only” or “we require candidates for H -1B from India.” Is that what we have in mind, to create this perverse discrimination against American workers?"
"The legislation we have introduced would overhaul the H -1B program, protecting American workers first, and stopping H -1Bs from being exploited as outsourcing visas."
While some believe it is "vaguely racist" to ask for the right to compete for job openings in our own country, Obama's common sense response should put this argument to rest. It is not racist to demand that corporations put their US job openings on the US job market for open competition before recruiting abroad.