President Donald Trump will decide by Thursday whether to suspend the visa worker laws that now allow Fortune 500 companies to import their own compliant workforces instead of hiring Americans, says a leading immigration lawyer for major U.S. companies.
The information was leaked because opponents want Congress and companies to launch a last-minute campaign against the draft Executive Order, said Greg Siskind, an immigration lawyer based in Memphis, TN.
“What we are told is that Trump is planning on making a decision, a final decision, on the scope of this proclamation by June 11,” he said in a Facebook chat. “That’s two days from now.”
The pending Executive Order will temporarily bar the inflow of H-1B, L-1s, and H-2B seasonal manual workers, plus some categories of J-1 workers, said Siskind. It will also order new regulations to limit the use of foreign workers who are imported via the H-1B and Occupational Practical Training (OPT) programs, he said.
The policy will allow American voters to choose in November if they want to keep the curbs, Siskind said.
“In 147 days, there’s an election, and if [Joe] Biden gets elected, I can promise you that the order would be — probably on the first day — be rescinded,” Siskind said.
But Trump used the same issue to help win the 2016 election. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program,” he said in March 2016. “No exceptions.” He followed up on Inauguration Day by promising a “Hire American” economic policy.
Numerous polls show that Americans want to like legal immigrants. But those polls also show most Americans strongly prefer that every American has a job before the government invites more legal immigrants, especially amid the coronavirus crash.
The H-1B program keeps at east 600,000 foreign workers in white-collar jobs throughout the United States, including many Fortune 500 companies. The little-known multi-year L-1 program keeps hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in a wide mix of white-collar and blue-collar jobs, ranging from gas stations to Google, usually on home-country salaries. For example, India’s L-1 workers can be paid a little over the U.S. minimum wage, even if they are engineers.
The order is being opposed by the White House advisers who support business groups. The advisers quickly blocked a similar reform that was promised by Trump on April 20. “A lot could change,” Siskind told a Facebook audience.
Overall, companies employ roughly 1.3 million white-collar vias workers instead of American graduates. The huge population also allows subcontractors to import and hide a large population of illegal immigrant white-collar workers for gig work with Fortune 500 firms.
Business groups strongly support the visa worker programs for both financial and management reasons.
The flood of extra workers helps raise stock values by dropping the nationwide price of professional skills, especially among subcontractors. It also delivers a compliant and disposable white-collar labor force to the coastal executives at Fortune 500 companies and many healthcare companies. This gig worker labor force of modestly skilled workers minimizes the need for executives to hire and manage independent American professionals.
But the executives’ discriminatory exclusion of American graduates and professionals also shrivels the innovation needed by the nation to counter the growing threat from government-backed Chinese companies. This exclusion is also creating an increasing population of educated but downwardly mobile and alienated young men and women.
The inflow of India’s visa-workers creates a huge ‘bonded labor’ workforce that empowers Fortune 500 CEOs & shrivels professionalism, say US/India tech-professionals.
“We’ve lost our competitive, innovative advantage because of it,” says US manager. #H1Bhttps://t.co/EgkcLsf4Xm
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) May 21, 2020
Siskind’s description matched a statement by another immigration lawyer, Charles Kuck. Kuck posted:
- The rumored Presidential proclamation would temporarily suspend entry of certain non-immigrant workers for a period that might be as long as 180 days (through the election and end of the year). This proclamation proposes to impact high-skilled individuals outside the U.S. seeking to enter on H-1B and L-1 visas, as well as H-2B temporary seasonal workers and certain J-1 exchange visitor participants.
- The proclamation purports to announce a temporary ban on non-immigrant worker entries but will NOT announce or describe other substantive policy changes that we expect will follow in draconion regulatory proposals.
- The proclamation will have a number of exceptions, supposedly to be announced by agency guidance.
- The proclamation will likely come the last two weeks in June, but it could be as early as June 15. The April 22 proclamation temporarily suspending immigrant visa entries stated that the 50th day thereafter (June 12) would mark the expected timeline for deciding if the terms of that proclamation should be extended or modified to include non-immigrants.
- Separately, the administration envisions a series of rule-makings, beginning perhaps as early as July, on H-1B, OPT, and H-4.
The J-1 program imports roughly 100,000 seasonal workers for resorts, hotels, and vacation camps. The order will stop the Summer Work Travel program and the inflow of workers for jobs as camp counselors, interns, and trainees, said Siskind.
The policy likely will not stop the hiring of foreign laboratory workers under the J-1 program, despite massive underemployment by U.S. biology graduates.
The biggest change, Kuck said, would be the withdrawal of President Barack Obama’s decision to provide work permits to the spouses of Indian H-1B employes who are waiting for the delivery of approved green cards. That population includes at least 100,000 spouses, many of whom have been hired by Indian managers for entry-level software jobs in Fortune 500 jobs. “The BIG CHANGE would be publication, at last, of the regulation rescinding the H-4 spousal work authorization rule,” he wrote.
“It’s got to go to court immediately,” Siskind said.
The reform will not deal with TN, B-1, O-1, or the E visas, said Siskind. Those visas may provide a workaround for people seeking jobs, he said.
The possible cutback of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is the primary concern for FWD.us, the advocacy group created by Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and other wealthy West Coast Investors. The OPT, and the parallel Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program, annually provides up to 500,000 work permits to lower-wage foreign graduates for many of the Fortune 500 jobs needed by U.S. graduates.
The draft change would eliminate the three-year work permit given to foreign graduates who get technology jobs, said Siskind.
The OPT and CPT work programs were created mainly by prior presidents, not Congress. They offer tax incentives to companies that move jobs and wealth from heartland states to the wealthy coastal states, which are dominated by Democrats and their elite business allies.
Cheap labor is important for investors because it helps cut payroll costs and raises profits, so boosting apparent values on Wall Street.
The Executive Order would limit the ability of Indian outsourcing companies to provide gig workers for Fortune 500 firms and likely force companies to raise salary levels, said Siskind. The limits would be set by narrowing the legal definition of jobs that can be done by H-1B workers and by raising the salary requirements, he said.
OPT is still intact, and the Admin will need to do real work to dismantle this critical program. But anti-immigrant advocates have targeted OPT for years, and the threat is real.
The review process was launched on April 22, when Trump announced modest curbs on legal immigration.
Trump’s polls are shaky going into the 2020 election, pressuring him to revive and implement his 2016 promises. Polls suggest that the proposal is likely very popular.
Candidate Trump promised in 2016 to roll back the visa worker programs.
But Pres. Trump & his deputies have done almost nothing to slow the Fortune 500’s determined efforts to replace American graduates with a no-rights, compliant foreign workforce.#H1Bhttps://t.co/S1gxsxjhik
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) June 5, 2020