Sens. Ted Cruz and Jeff Sessions introduced a bill Friday in the Senate that would rein in the H1B “guest worker” program that has allowed Disney and other major corporations to replace their American tech workers with foreign “guest workers.”
The American Jobs First Act of 2015 (S. 2394) would reform the H-1B visa program to stop abuse of the legal immigration system and ensure American workers are better served, Sessions said.
Sessions, R-Ala., notes, this bill is the “exact opposite in every way of the wage-crushing I-squared bill.” I-squared, championed by the billionaire tech lobby, is designed to make it even easier for powerful corporations to pass over Americans in favor of lower-wage labor.
Cruz, the GOP senator from Texas, has been focusing his campaign on immigration and national security issues, a combination that seems to be resonating with the GOP base. He has been surging in the polls in key states such as Iowa, spurring the Hill to report that a Trump-Cruz one-two punch is the “nightmare” the GOP establishment sought to avoid.
“Listen, I think both Cruz and Trump would have a similar impact on the party, neither of which would be very good. I am actually more concerned about Cruz than I am about Trump,” said GOP strategist John Feehery, a former senior leadership aide who is a columnist for the Hill.
Sessions issued the following statement Friday about the bill to reform the guest-worker law:
“The American Jobs First Act of 2015 is a necessary effort to repair the H-1B visa program to prevent it from displacing American workers,” Sen. Cruz said. “This legislation aligns the program with its original intent, does more to prevent employers from using the program to replace hard-working American men and women with cheaper foreign labor, and helps to create greater transparency of job needs and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, so that unemployed Americans with the necessary skills can apply for these jobs. It is my hope that the American Jobs First Act of 2015 becomes part of a broader congressional effort to make immigration work for the American people again.”
Mass layoffs come with ‘train your replacement’ caveat
The mass layoff of American workers at Disney, Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities, Harley Davidson, Deloitte and many other companies underscores that the political system in Washington “has failed to protect our own people,” Sessions said.
Many of those companies, after handing out pink slips, then forced their American workers to train their foreign replacements. If the American refuses to comply, he or she loses their severance pay.
WND has reported extensively on the H1B program and how it has been exploited by major corporations, exposing GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush have advocated for expanding the program. Under the I-Squared bill co-sponsored by Rubio and supported by Bush, the cap on H1B visas handed out annually would be tripled, to nearly 200,000 a year, with a nearly unlimited number of visas made available to universities.
The wages for American tech workers in the software industry have been stagnant for more than a decade, and many blame that on the influx of cheap foreign “guest workers” from India, China, Saudi Arabia and other mostly Asian countries.
The H1B visa is good for three years and can be extended once for a total of six years.
One 2008 study showed that U.S. software developers earned about $62,000 more per year on average than Indians working in India, adjusted for purchasing power.
The software industry, led by the top executives at companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Hewlett Packard, want to tap further into this source of cheap labor.
As WND exclusively reported in April, the H1B visa system also presents a national security risk as these temporary workers are only lightly screened before entering the country. Thousands of them come every year from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other Shariah-compliant countries.
Sessions continued in his statement:
“I applaud Sen. Cruz for his leadership on this legislation, which would protect American workers from discrimination by barring companies from laying them off and replacing them in order to lower their labor costs. The H-1B program is nowhere close to the program it is said to be. Far from filling ‘labor shortages’, it is being used to destroy existing jobs of American workers. This legislation would improve wage standards for the H-1B visa, block its use as a cheap labor program, and scrap the terribly abused foreign worker ‘training program’ which has become a backdoor method for replacing American workers. It would also eliminate the diversity lottery, which has become yet one more avenue for low-wage labor. In every sense, this bill is the exact opposite of the I-squared proposal which was written by and for industry interests, and which would further drive down wages for American workers. I hope the Senate and House will take up and pass the ‘American Jobs First Act,’ and send the message that real immigration reform answers to the American people, not the special interests.”
Key highlights of the bill include:
- Requiring H-1B employers who seek H-1B visas under the program to commit to paying the foreign workers they recruit either what an American worker who did identical or similar work made two years prior to the recruiting effort, or $110,000 (whichever is higher).
- Establishing a “layoff cool-off” period of two years (730 days), which would prevent an employer from bringing on an H-1B visa-based foreign worker within two years of an employee strike, an employer lockout, layoffs, furloughs, or other types of involuntary employee terminations other than for-cause dismissals.
- Strengthening internal (company) and external (public domain) transparency requirements, in order to ensure that both company employees and the job-seeking public are aware of the company’s H-1B visa application and potential job opportunities at the company.
- Requiring increased H-1B visa application transparency on the part of the Department of Labor, with real-time online updating of companies’ H-1B visa application submissions, the publication of certain application information (including the identities of the companies and employees who have submitted the applications), and additional reporting to Congress about program abusers.
- Preventing continued use of the non-statute-based Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program, and the creation and use of other similar programs, which have also been used to displace American workers under the guise of student training.