This is a completely separate issue from securing our borders and illegal immigration, but lobbyists keep trying to sneak it into bills meant to address illegal immigration.
Twice a year for several years running the Congress has tried to force through H1b visa increases, but many of us that suffered at the hands of this program at the turn of the century are now far more diligent about monitoring our representatives.
The average American may think, why should I care? This is really only a problem for "techies". I am here to tell you that you are fooling yourself. Maybe my job is the first to go, but computers are so intertwined with our economy that ALL the jobs follow them. This legislation is a direct assault on the American middle class by the wealthy corporate gentry who have been buying and selling legislation for generations using men like Jack Abramoff.
Just like the cost of gasoline has begun to creep into the price of everything, the spread of cheap foreign labor will affect everyone's wages.
I have been a computer programmer in the United States for over twenty years. I am greatly concerned by this continued push to give my job away. It seems completely unfair that I should have to worry about my own government helping private industry give my job to a non-citizen. Right after the Internet flameout at the turn of the century burned up tons of programming jobs, the H1b visa limit remained at 150,000. There just were no jobs for programmers anywhere in the United States. At least not domestic coders, because all those H1b visas kept getting gobbled up even when there were literally hundreds of thousands of programmers out of work!
Those were tough times for American programmers looking for jobs. I felt great relief when the H1b visa limit was returned to the 65,000 level. Even though the Senate makes a big deal about cutting the guest worker visas down from 400,000 to 200,000, this is still a huge increase that will definitely impact the job market negatively for American workers.
Corporate America wants these changes for obvious reasons. After all, it is very tough to balance work and family with deadlines and overtime. Sometimes those darn uppity American workers want to be with their families. The more unpaid overtime that can be squeezed out of a worker, the greater those profits and productivity numbers. We all know the realities that those H1b workers face. If the boss says to work 50 or 60 hours for 75% of the normal salary, you do it or you could be back to the homeland right quick. Am I exaggerating? I don't think so, because there could be no other reason for those H1b visas being applied for when hundreds of thousands of American programmers were out of work between 2001-2003.
Even if all the crying about skills shortages is true, which I submit it is NOT, but for the sake of discussion let us say it is true. Well, then all the more reason to start making sure this is an attractive career for up and coming students. Right now they look at it as a dead-end. Work like a dog for a decade or so and then get thrown away for a cheaper worker overseas. If the skills shortage exists we need a long term solution and H1b is not it. Either bite the bullet now and start training the up and coming and protecting hi-tech as a career option or at least give citizenship to those individuals that meet the skills needs, so that they stay in America and contribute to our economy here, instead of going home after a few years and taking more jobs with them as they open outsourcing firms.
One has to wonder at why this is considered so, so important to keep on trying to ram it through. Obviously, the need to manage our porous southern border is a high priority, but I do not think that economic refugees from the south have any connection to young Indians being purposefully imported to depress I.T. wages. Is it just about money or is it about more? High tech industry has obvious monetary motives for continuing to push this idea, but why is the government (Both Dems and Republicans support it) being so cooperative, especially in the face of so much opposition from the people?
I submit that this desire for an H1b visa increase runs even deeper than just money. The government needs high tech workers that do NOT know their rights. With all this domestic surveillance and data mining going on within our borders, an American's right to privacy is under direct assault. To truly implement the government's desires to snoop all data in the US, they need high tech minds. Well I am here to tell you that there is no mystery as to why so many Libertarians are computer programmers. We know what computers can do AND we know how fallible their algorithms can be.
The reality is that young foreign programmers do not know their rights, or the traditional rights of being an American citizen. If an H1b programmer is asked to write code to spy on Americans, he does not think twice about it. He does what he is told. He does not look up from his desk and question the motivations of his bosses or corporation or the US government...he does what he is told. American programmers are notoriously independent, freedom-loving individuals that do not always do what they are told. Think about it, if there were more H1b visa holders at ATT, perhaps we never would have heard about the mysterious hardware-packed room sifting through all telephone calls passing through the Western US.
Perhaps H1b visas could be about a lot more than just depressing the wages of America's high tech work force. The reins of technology are difficult to manage. You need smart, motivated people to execute things in the ever-changing environment of technology. If the government wanted to implement a broad surveillance and data mining effort within our borders, would American programmers cooperate? Probably not, but foreign programmers not steeped in the traditional freedoms that America citizens enjoy won't think twice about it and even if they did, the fear of deportment would prevent action.
Think about it. Is this one of the real backroom motivations for H1b visas, a compliant high tech workforce that the government/corporate oligarchy can leverage to finally bring their Orwellian desires to full fruition? Call me paranoid, but computers are a difficult thing to deal with and the reins of power have become evermore dependent upon computers. Break the back of the American programmer and you remove an obstacle to unchecked government power.