GOP Loves Guest Workers. American Workers? Not So Much
Pete Spiliakos in First Things:
Lower-earning men are not less likely than higher-earning men to father children, but they are far less likely to marry and live with the mother. The boys raised in these disrupted homes are much more likely to get in trouble in school, and they do worse than other populations in school. The current unemployment rate is 7.7 percent nationwide but it is 11.2 percent for those with less than a high school diploma.
So what did the Republican Washington establishment do in the recent immigration negotiations? They pushed for the largest possible guest worker program with the lowest possible wages. The impact of such a guest worker program on the wages of Americans without college degrees would likely be small, but as an indication of GOP priorities it is a much larger problem. Faced with a slow-motion economic and social disaster afflicting the least educated and lowest-earning American citizens and residents, the Republicans are focusing on driving the wages for the lowest-paying jobs even lower.
That’s the Republican establishment’s agenda. In the months since the election, the most visible alternative to the Republican establishment has been Sen. Rand Paul. Where is Sen. Paul in all this? He has been reported as favoring what amounts to an unlimited guest worker program. He is against internal enforcement mechanisms like E-Verify that would force businesses to check on the legal status of potential employees. This would make internal enforcement of immigration laws against “guest workers” who overstayed their visas largely futile.
Meanwhile, guess who’s using the H-1B guest worker visas? Martin Kaste of NPR reports:
If you scroll through the government’s visa data, you notice something surprising. The biggest employer of foreign tech workers is not Microsoft — not by a long shot. Nor is it Google, Facebook or any other name-brand tech company. The biggest users of H-1Bs are consulting companies, or as Ron Hira calls them, “offshore-outsourcing firms.”
“The top 10 recipients in [the] last fiscal year were all offshore-outsourcers. And they got 40,000 of the 85,000 visas — which is astonishing,” he says.
Hira’s a professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He’s also the son of Indian immigrants and has a personal interest in questions of labor flow across borders.
For the past decade, he’s been studying how consulting firms use temporary work visas to help American companies cut costs. He says they use the visas to supply cheaper workers here, but also to smooth the transfer of American jobs to information-technology centers overseas.
“What these firms have done is exploit the loopholes in the H-1B program to bring in on-site workers to learn the jobs [of] the Americans to then ship it back offshore,” he says. “And also to bring in on-site workers who are cheaper on the H-1B and undercut American workers right here.”