Move to increase number of foreign worker visas fails in Senate, but that has not stopped what critics call a push for cheaper labor.
By David R. Francis
A popular video recently posted on the Internet’s YouTube shows an immigration lawyer talking to a group of business people in May about the process of hiring foreigners for their companies.
“Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified US worker,” says the attorney in the video, an immigration lawyer at Cohen & Grigsby, a firm in Pittsburgh. “In a sense, that sounds funny, but it’s what we’re trying to do here.”
To Norm Matloff, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, such efforts to use loopholes in immigration laws that were supposed to give Americans and legal residents first crack at high-tech and other jobs is “absolutely outrageous.”
The real goal is to hire “cheap labor,” charges Dr. Matloff. High-tech executives had backed a provision in the comprehensive immigration bill that failed in the Senate last Thursday to boost the number of H-1B or other temporary visas for highly educated foreign workers. Now, the focus will shift to “stand-alone” bills already before Congress that would accomplish the same goal, notes a spokesman for the Software & Information Industry Association. Bill Gates, a Microsoft founder, has even called for unlimited H-1B visas. (The current theoretical limit is 65,000.)