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Giant corporations and their outsourcing firm friends are gaming the H1-B Visa program to get almost all of the immigrants, squeezing out all other employers.

Congress set up the H-1B program to help American companies hire foreigners with exceptional skills, to fill open jobs and to help their businesses grow.

But the program has been failing many American employers who cannot get visas for foreigners with the special skills they need.

Instead, the outsourcing firms are increasingly dominating the program, federal records show. In recent years, they have obtained many thousands of the visas — which are limited to 85,000 a year — by learning to game the H-1B system without breaking the rules, researchers and lawyers said.

In some years, an American employer could snag one of these coveted visas almost anytime. But recently, with the economy picking up, the outsourcing companies have sent in tens of thousands of visa requests right after the application window opens on April 1. Employers who apply after a week are out of luck.

“The H-1B program is critical as a way for employers to fill skill gaps and for really talented people to come to the United States,” said Ronil Hira, a professor at Howard University who studies visa programs. “But the outsourcing companies are squeezing out legitimate users of the program,” he said. “The H-1Bs are actually pushing jobs offshore.”

Those firms have used the visas to bring their employees, mostly from India, for large contracts to take over work at American businesses. And as the share of H-1B visas obtained by outsourcing firms has grown, more Americans say they are being put out of work, or are seeing their jobs moved overseas.

Of the 20 companies that received the most H-1B visas in 2014, 13 were global outsourcing operations, according to an analysis of federal records by Professor Hira. The top 20 companies took about 40 percent of the visas available — about 32,000 — while more than 10,000 other employers received far fewer visas each. And about half of the applications in 2014 were rejected entirely because the quota had been met.

Two of those applications came from Mark Merkelbach and his small engineering firm in Seattle. For water projects in China, he needed engineers and landscapers who speak Mandarin, and he could not find them in the local market. With his H-1B visas denied, Mr. Merkelbach had to move the jobs to Taiwan. Another denial went to Atulya Pandey, an entrepreneur from Nepal who founded an Internet company in the United States and now can no longer work legally in this country for his own business.

This is just more evidence that we need legal crackdowns on outsourcing if we want to preserve any sort of American jobs. The H1-B Visa program should be a good thing that helps build the nation through bringing in workers that can help companies while diversifying the nation. But this level of abuse by corporations who want to outsource as many employees as possible is actually forcing work abroad. The system needs serious reform if it doesn’t contribute to income inequality and joblessness rather than promoting the needs of innovative companies.

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  • ThrottleJockey

    I’m glad you brought this up since after reading this article earlier this week I’ve been curious how others think about this: How do you (and other leftists or liberals) distinguish opposition to H1B vs policies which are otherwise very pro-immigration? At least some people here are essentially Open Borders supporters.

    • Matt McIrvin

      I think the people who are now being given H1Bs should generally be given green cards instead. The ones I’ve talked to about it seem to agree with me.

      • I’d be happy with that! Might be a harder sell than having a two stage (time limited, then indefinite). But they should definitely AT LEAST be green card like in structure.

        • Matt McIrvin

          It seems to me that if they were treated as immigrants on the road to citizenship rather than as guest workers, they’d be that much more likely to settle here permanently, raise their kids here and generally spend their money here, growing the whole economy rather than just taking a job. The skills and knowledge they have would stay here, and with less extreme employer leverage, there would be less downward pressure on wages.

          • I meant harder sell for congress. Green cards are citizenship lite in a lot of people’s mind.

            I think wanting to work in the US for a few years then go back home (or elsewhere) is perfectly reasonable (I have some relatives from Iran who did that).

            Of course, you could do like UK ILR wherein if you aren’t resident for 2 years it may be rescinded.

            (To be clear, arbitrary numbers of arbitrary length green cars is the best policy by far.)

            • arbitrary length green cars

              I hated, HATED, the intro to transportation class I had to take in 1985.

              • ThrottleJockey

                I hate beige/taupe cars of any length.

                • los

                  i have a puke-orange 70s b-210 for sale.
                  special price, just for you.

            • pillsy

              I think wanting to work in the US for a few years then go back home (or elsewhere) is perfectly reasonable (I have some relatives from Iran who did that).

              Sure, and I’ve known some H1-B holders who’ve done the same and seemed happy with it. Nonetheless, I think making it easier for them to stay if they want to is good public policy, even if many choose not to go that route.

              • Oh I totally agree, as I said above. I’m just saying that a two tier system where the difference between tiers was time limited vs. indefinite, and this allowed more time limited to be issued, with an easy path to convert to indefinite, would be a reasonable system.

                But indefinite green cards for everyone seems better.

          • cpinva

            “The skills and knowledge they have would stay here, and with less extreme employer leverage, there would be less downward pressure on wages.”

            you’re most likely correct, and for that exact reason, no employer in the US will hire them, because they can already get someone here with those skills, they’d just have to pay them more. the whole point of this is to hire cheaper labor, with the constant threat of removing the visa if they protest.

            • ColBatGuano

              they’d just have to pay them more. the whole point of this is to hire cheaper labor,

              Exactly. There is no shortage of high skill workers in the U.S. Just a shortage of ones who will work at the wages employers want to pay.

      • ThrottleJockey

        My problem with the H1B program is that it clearly displaces Americans from their jobs. You have employees being forced to train their replacements for God’s sake. This isn’t like unskilled immigration which doesn’t *appear* to separate workers from their jobs.

        I find it preposterous, if not absurd, that in a country of 315M people that there are skills which can’t be had here at a reasonable wage.

        • I have trained my replacement who was still overseas. I have to say the process was so painful that I was glad when they finally let me go. I wondered if I might have been kept on if I’d shown more enthusiasm for working at 12 AM and 5 AM, as well as regular hours, but I didn’t wonder too long.

          It’s probably fair to say that the experience was a learning process for everyone involved.

          • ThrottleJockey

            I’m sorry you had to go through that Bianca. That’s horrible. In my opinion its time to send the DOJ after companies that flout the rules of the program like they do. Its fraud. And the execs that do this need to do hard jail time.

          • Oh, that’s horrible.

            I don’t get how that’s legal.

        • cpinva

          “I find it preposterous, if not absurd, that in a country of 315M people that there are skills which can’t be had here at a reasonable wage.”

          absolutely, if your idea of a “reasonable wage” is $10 an hour. these companies hold the threat of replacement with cheaper, foreign labor as a Damocles’ sword over the heads of employees. or just bring in a bunch of unpaid “interns”. anything they can think of, as long as it isn’t obviously illegal (and even then, if the risk of being caught is relatively low), these companies will do, to screw their employees over, and jack up eps.

        • Tyro

          I find it preposterous, if not absurd, that in a country of 315M people that there are skills which can’t be had here at a reasonable wage.

          Certain fields of expertise simply don’t have a lot of people in them, and many of them are foreign nationals who’ve studied here in the US, and it would be good for them to stay and put their expertise to use in the country. Also, no doubt that many relatively esoteric fields have most of the experts already tied up in jobs already, requiring expertise to be brought in from abroad.

          However, “writing code” and “maintaining databases” which are what a lot of these contract-labor companies do while paying their employees about $60k/yr, are not these forms of expertise that the H1-B program was designed to support.

    • The problem with H1Bs is that they are really the opposite of open borders. They are extremely limited in number and they have pretty tough restrictions that put the employee in a very vulnerable position vis a vis their employer. You aren’t a serf, but you’re close.

      My UK work permit was similar, in many respects. 5 years, “no recourse to public funds”, and if I lost my job I would have a very limited window to get a new one (who would have to sponsor). The path to IRL (i.e., green card) was a bit trickier, but saner than it is now. Citizenship was actually a bit easier.

      If H1Bs were more like time limited Green Cards and given on the basis of need rather than with a super low cap, then it would be a much better system.

      • djw

        Agreed. The potential for abuse in tying an employee to a particular employer is really problematic.

      • ThrottleJockey

        They are extremely limited in number and they have pretty tough restrictions that put the employee in a very vulnerable position vis a vis their employer. You aren’t a serf, but you’re close.

        Do you really mean this, Bijan? A lot of these people come from India, and they’re probably making 10X what actual ‘serfs’ in India make.

        • Murc

          Yes, because the only standard we should be using is what they would have made in India, of course. It’s totally okay to exploit people as long as you’re giving them a slightly better deal than they’d get somewhere else!

          • ThrottleJockey

            I’m not saying its ok to exploit anyone, Murc, I’m asking if they’re really serfs if they’re being paid 10X what serfs in India actually make. In the main, are they not doing pretty well?

            • Murc

              … do you actually think India literally has serfs? I’m legitimately unsure.

              And no, in fact, they’re not doing pretty well. If you’re in a situation where your livelihood and presence in the country is purely at the whim of an employer who can fuck you over any way they want or boot you out on their whim, you are not, in fact, doing pretty well by any reasonably measure.

              You keep bringing up “well, they make more than what they make in India.” I consider this wholly irrelevant.

              • ThrottleJockey

                I think India’s caste system is serf-like enough that it serves our present purposes well enough.

                My comments about foreign professionals working here aren’t based on just newspaper articles and income data. I’ve had quite close relationships with a variety of foreign professionals here under various different visa programs. I’ve lived with them (in my girlfriend’s case, literally) as they’ve navigated these issues. And, trust me, you don’t want to call my (now former) girlfriend a serf! :-)

                So I can’t quite pin “serf” on the emotional or economic profile of the people I’ve met who’ve faced these issues. But if you can then I understand your point.

                • I was under a similar regime for the first 5 years of being in the UK. My job was great, but I was aware of the theoretical precariousness of my position.

                  In wikipedia they talk about it being described a “indentured servitude”. That’s also at best an analogy (compare with “guest workers” in Dubai…that’s a monstrosity).

                  I’m confused as to what the problem is. No, we’re not saying that H1Bs are exploited in the same way or degree as, say, migrant works in the fields. No we’re not saying that they are literally serfs or are owned entirely by their employer. All I said was that there’s a dependency on the employer that is problematic and anti-worker.

                  (Serfs exchanged labor for land that they could then work for themselves. This is entirely unlike wage employment! ANOTHER DISANALOGY!!! :))

              • Gregor Sansa

                Guatemala has people in 2015 who are colloquially called “peones” and are serfs in every meaningful way except that they could theoretically leave if they had the means. And also they have cell phones, so obviously, actually rich.

                I would be entirely unsurprised if India has the equivalent. Don’t know it, but seems probable to me.

          • DrDick

            The actual differential for professionals (which is what we are talking about mostly) is only about 4:1.

        • Do you really mean this, Bijan?

          Yes.

          A lot of these people come from India, and they’re probably, and they’re probably making 10X what actual ‘serfs’ in India make.

          “Serf” doesn’t refer per se to overall economic position, but the fact that you are tied to the employer (analogously to how some classes of medieval were bound to their land and thus lord).

          You’re fairly dependent on your employer:

          H-1B visa holders may be sponsored for their green cards by their employers through an Application for Alien Labor Certification, filed with the U.S. Department of Labor.[citation needed] In the past, the sponsorship process has taken several years, and for much of that time the H-1B visa holder was unable to change jobs without losing their place in line for the green card. This created an element of enforced loyalty to an employer by an H-1B visa holder. Critics[who?] alleged that employers benefit from this enforced loyalty because it reduced the risk that the H-1B employee might leave the job and go work for a competitor, and that it put citizen workers at a disadvantage in the job market, since the employer has less assurance that the citizen will stay at the job for an extended period of time, especially if the work conditions are tough, wages are lower or the work is difficult or complex. It has been argued that this makes the H-1B program extremely attractive to employers, and that labor legislation in this regard has been influenced by corporations seeking and benefiting from such advantages.[citation needed]

          Some recent news reports suggest that the recession that started in 2008 will exacerbate the H-1B visa situation, both for supporters of the program and for those who oppose it.[87] The process to obtain the green card has become so long that during these recession years it has not been unusual that sponsoring companies fail and disappear, thus forcing the H-1B employee to find another sponsor, and lose their place in line for the green card. An H-1B employee could be just one month from obtaining their green card, but if the employee is laid off, he or she may have to leave the country, or go to the end of the line and start over the process to get the green card, and wait as much as 15 more years, depending on the nationality and visa category.[88]

          And:

          If an H-1B worker is laid off for any reason, the H-1B program technically does not specify a time allowance or grace period to round up one’s affairs irrespective of how long the H-1B worker might have lived in the United States. To round up one’s affairs, filing an application to change to another non-immigrant status may therefore become a necessity.

          If an H-1B worker is laid off and attempts to find a new H-1B employer to file a petition for him, the individual is considered out of status if there is even a one-day gap between the last day of employment and the date that the new H-1B petition is filed. While some attorneys claim that there is a grace period of thirty days, sixty days, or sometimes ten days, that is not true according to the law. In practice, USCIS has accepted H-1B transfer applications even with a gap in employment up to 60 days, but that is by no means guaranteed.

          • ThrottleJockey

            I’d be the first to agree that our immigration laws are vague, arbitrary, cruel and capricious. At one point my girlfriend and I thought we might have to marry when she lost her job and technically violated her visa. (Thank God we narrowly avoided that certain catastrophe). I’ve had other friends who’ve stayed in jobs they despised, working 70 hours a week, because of the vagaries and injustices of immigration law. (Both my gf and this friend were African nationals). Early in my career I remember a colleague being stranded in a 3rd country she had no ties to because she had technically violated her visa. So I get everything you’re saying.

            All this said, I think in the main describing someone as a serf whose making a very good standard of living is a bit more…hyperbole…than we usually get from your highly intellectual and highly precise self :-) Of course we’ve all been known to engage in…ahem, rhetoric. :-)

            • It was precise. As djw said below, the point of the analogy is being tied and dependent on your employer. Nothing else. As should be clear by the prior sentence which said, “put the employee in a very vulnerable position vis a vis their employer.”

              That’s all. I’m sorry if you are focused on the income aspects. If so, just delete that bit. The point remains. This is one way that employers constrain wages via H1B. If they had labor mobility, they would move when conditions or wages were too bad and low. They don’t have that.

              It’s not the only way, but it’s an important way. And obviously H1Bs being generally paid below market value (and with much less leverage) can have an affect on wages generally for that sort of employee and provide a large incentive to replace existing employees with the cheap kind.

        • djw

          The relevance of the analogy, which seems fairly obvious to me, has absolutely nothing to do with the salary. The similarity is that the H1B visa holder and the serf are barred from selling their labor to anyone but the person currently buying it. Except perhaps in those very rare cases where the employees skills are truly unique and valuable, this introduces a power imbalance that opens the door a more abusive and dominating relationship between employer and employee. “If we don’t treat them decently, the better employees will leave us for our competition” can serve as a check on the inclination to exploit or abuse; the H1B visa program effectively removes it.

          Edit: for some reason the other responses weren’t showing up. What Bijan said.

      • Brett

        Broader work permits would be a good idea, along with some type of program to verify credentials for professional workers abroad would be a good idea. Then offer them a green card at the end of the program period if they’ve been law-abiding and gainfully employed (or have started their own business).

        If they’ve got an education and work experience from a set of verified programs abroad, I’d be fine just giving them a green card altogether. But this would be a good second option.

      • cpinva

        should have read farther down, sorry.

    • I’m fine with the H1-B Visa in theory, just not with how it is being implemented.

      • bluefish

        Erik,

        How confident are you that the jobs being fulfilled by H1B visa holders can’t be filled by Americans? Is there any data on this?

    • Murc

      How do you (and other leftists or liberals) distinguish opposition to H1B vs policies which are otherwise very pro-immigration?

      Er, on rationale?

      It’s pretty simple. If you support open borders (which you should if you’re at all interested in a moral immigration policy), you’re opposed to H1-B because it’s not pro-immigration, it’s pro-exploitation. You’re essentially bringing over indentured labor; an H1-B holder has no, effective, way to quit their job and remain legally in-country, because the regulations surrounding it make that nearly impossible. This removes a lot of leverage they have over their employers.

      • ThrottleJockey

        Thanks to you and everyone else for the responses. Its informative. I’m actually surprised because I expected to see people react differently to the H1B program.

        I, myself, support immigration: 1) because it would be inhumane to send people at the bottom of the totem pole home just because they’re trying to eke out a living for their families; and 2) I like how it diversifies the country.

        But I have to balance those factors against how it impacts American workers. I’ve seen limited evidence that unskilled immigration displaces American workers, but the H1B visa program just seems like a way for American companies to bid down the price of labor, actually taking jobs away from Americans, and I can’t support that.

        • cpinva

          “but the H1B visa program just seems like a way for American companies to bid down the price of labor, actually taking jobs away from Americans, and I can’t support that.”

          that’s exactly what it’s turned into, vs what it was originally intended to be.

    • I agree that’s a good question. On the one hand the conversation about skilled immigration generally is a good one to have. On the other hand many people become frustrated when they try to discuss a specific program and are met with generalities, which it becomes difficult to counter without answering in similar generalities, either “for immigration” or “against immigration”.

      Because of the makeup of this blog, a lot of people seem to assume that the people being hurt by cutting back or not expanding the H1B program are like their friends: Ph.D. candidates, say, who can’t get work visas. And it’s understandable if that’s what they really want to discuss.

      It shouldn’t be surprising that the program is being used in this way, at least here, because it’s been brought up in comments before, possibly by me. I’m sure there are statistics on how the program has been used over time, which would answer the various questions this raises, which I’m realizing now I don’t have time even to finish this sentence clearly . . . maybe later for that.

      • DrDick

        It is also the case that H1B is often used by employers to hold down wages. In many cases there are plenty of available Americans with the desired skills, but none who are willing to work for the low wages being offered. Foreign workers, especially from India, will take the lower wages (which is also exploiting them).

        • ThrottleJockey

          Can you elaborate? How is an Indian worker taking 4X (using your stat) what they’d make in India being exploited in the H1B process? Aare you talking about in terms of income, or are they being exploited in another way?

          • Philip

            I think it’s exploitative mostly because, absent the extreme precariousness imposed by the visa, they would often make significantly more after coming here. Their work, in the US, is worth much more than they actually get paid.

            • DrDick

              Exactly.

          • djw

            One way to talk about exploitation is to think about wages relative to the value being provided. This is why (for example) I’d have no trouble saying a new rule limiting all NFL or MLB players to 150K a year would be grossly exploitative, although it might not be for professional athletes in a sport that generated significantly less revenue. Assuming that the prevailing American wage for a particular job is a reflection of those employees ability to negotiate a ‘fair share’ of the value they provide, and the H1B visa-holders are providing a similar amount of value for a much lower wage, we might say they’re being exploited on those grounds, regardless of the ratio of their earnings to their earning power in India.

            • DrDick

              Right. They get suckered because they do not know the going rate in the US (or the cost of living in the US) so take a low wage, which is much more than they could make at home.

              • ThrottleJockey

                Thanks for the elaboration, I understand where you’re coming from at least. You guys are defining it based on what they’re missing out on (the market wage in the US), I’m basing it on what they’re getting out of the bargain (a lot more money than they’d otherwise get). I guess that makes me a ‘glass half-full’ kind of guy.

                • djw

                  Note, also, that one can be exploited while having a good or decent life relative to other options. One can be wronged and not immiserated.

        • Everything that’s been said in this sub thread is true. In some cases wages for a U.S. worker are not that much higher, if they go through a contract agency, even for more highly skilled work (that is, work that would be paid higher than those jobs are, by the primary employer, in most cases). I have read of very low paid foreign workers who have wanted to, and apparently would have been able to, get better paid work (probably still low by local standards, I guess) but were tied to their current employer.

          But the outside contractor, or temp worker, also doesn’t ask to be promoted or to participate in decision making, or to be given time to transition to a different group when their project is canceled, etc., which are usually at least notionally on the table for regular employees in those fields. (From their point of view, they don’t have to participate in meetings and corporate b.s., but are simply doing a job, which can be a plus, other things being equal–as can no one trying to get you to do management work–which in these cases they aren’t.)

  • divadab

    This is what happens when you have a traitorous ruling class that feels no duty to its citizens, and a regulatory regime run by supply sergeants named Magoo.

    It’s just fucking unbelievable how fucked up the federal apparatus is.

    • cpinva

      “and a regulatory regime run by supply sergeants named Magoo.”

      I was thinking more Bilko.

      • divadab

        Oh ya – Magoo is his Lieutenant….

  • Derelict

    Not mentioned is the impact H1-B has one wages. You get companies applying for the visas because they can’t find anyone to fill those critical positions despite advertising the openings. But the reason they can’t fill the positions is because the wage they want to pay is something like $18,000/yr and no American college graduates are willing or able to accept that wage.

    • ThrottleJockey

      Yes, this.

    • Mike G

      Most of the H1B slots seem to go to people whose only “unique skills” are that they’re willing to work for less than Americans. Indian outsourcing companies’ US subsidiaries bringing in thousands of grunt-work coders and sysadmins is not what the program was intended for.
      I’d like to know what whores in Congress are protecting these companies, and how much cash they’re getting for it.

    • postmodulator

      As I related the last time this topic came up, I once witnessed this very process — my recollection is that it was something like requiring ten years of Solaris administration experience and they were willing to pay around $34,000 with a large amount of after-hours work expected. The actual guy they hired ended up spending forty or fifty hours in a row at work, sometimes. I don’t think he was particularly good at it, either; that area had some poor outcomes. When they replaced those systems they fired him.

      Everyone who was in IT in the late 90s remembers seeing job postings requiring more years of experience in a technology than the technology had existed, like requiring seven years of Java in 1998. Those were an H1-B dodge, too. I haven’t seen that lately, though.

  • twbb

    My personal unproven hypothesis is in addition to all the advantages H1Bs give employers, the popularity of the program is also driven by a domestic anti-American self-hatred-created myth — the idea that when it comes to technical professions especially, people from other countries are just inherently smarter than us and do those jobs better.

    • I’ve never heard those sentiments, myself.

      Lower wages is more likely.

      • twbb

        Lower wages (and higher productivity due to limited mobility) are absolutely the primary driver of H1B lobbying and use. I just think the constant drumbeat in this country about what STEM-illiterate mouth-breathers we all are does have some effect, not just among MBA types making the hiring policy, but also among legislators and agency personnel managing the H1B program.

        • Oh, and don’t forget how “millennials” are all pampered lazy stupid tweet-heads. Who’d want to give them a job?

    • Matt McIrvin

      A lot of ’em are at least really good. But if they’re that good, we should want them to become American, not just mine them for labor.

      • twbb

        No arguments here; my girlfriend is a brilliant foreign-born PhD who I would really like to get permanent residence. But a lot of the justification for the H1B program especially is that you just can’t find American nationals to do certain jobs, and I think that myth goes beyond just companies lying to many people in them really thinking that the H1B guy will not just be cheaper but will also doa better job.

        • postmodulator

          I think that myth goes beyond just companies lying to many people in them really thinking that the H1B guy will not just be cheaper but will also doa better job.

          A defender of the H1B program in this comment section made the claim that the program was necessary for his company because native-born Americans simply could not write code. He stuck to it when challenged, too.

      • I worked with some that were extremely good, but a lot of them were pretty average.

  • tomscud

    The “but recently” line is a bit disingenuous – H1Bs have run out in the first week every year except the worst couple years of the recession.

  • celticdragonchick

    Off topic, but this was my experience in the classroom as a substitute teacher last Thursday presented here for your Sunday entertainment:

    So today happened.

    I substituted at an inner city high school in High Point, NC. All I knew was that it was going to be science of some sort. I get to the front office to get my class instructions etc and they give me my packet for period 2 and 3 (the school has 90 minute blocks instead of 55 minute). I have two biology classes with handouts to give them.

    Okay then.

    I get to my class and find it is a combination chemistry and biology lab. It is dirty and poorly kept…so I start poking around since I have 40 minutes before students come in even for first period. The emergency wash shower and extra fire exit are blocked by pushcarts loaded with junk and old crappy microscopes.

    Uhh?

    I note this with dismay and look around with interest. The first aid cabinet has no first aid kit, and I also see that the chemistry glassware is all over the classroom. It is filthy, and several test tubes and beakers have unknown liquids still in them.

    What. The. Fuck.

    I start looking for a chemical disposal container, because I cannot just fucking dump unknowns down a drain. Nothing. No ventilation hood, no chemical dump container…just dirty test tubes and beakers everywhere with …something…still in them.

    I go to the the aviation careers department (this high school has an aviation technical school sort of built in) head next door to come over and document what I have found so she can let the teacher know that there are some…um…issues with her class, and I also don’t want to sound like an asshole and make this an administration issue before I even start work for the day.

    Then kids start coming in.

    Who are you guys? What class are you here for?

    Chemistry.

    Oh really. Who is your teacher?

    Ms XXXXXXXXXXXX.

    Uh oh. Okay, what were you guys working on for chem this week then?

    We dunno.

    I’m fucked. Okay, let’s call the front office:

    “Hi, this is your substitute for Ms so and so for biology? I have a chemistry class in here and I have no class plan for these kids.”

    “Well, we gave you everything there was! You should have it all!”

    ” I have no roll call sheet and no class outline or lesson plan for first period, and everything I have is for 2nd and 3rd period. I need some guidance here.”

    Okay, we are sending someone down…

    My relief was actually freaking awesome. She was an admin who had taught chemistry and she gave a great lecture cold. It was a pleasure to just watch her and learn how a seasoned pro does it…but things went down after that. Of course.

    2nd Period had students chasing each other with scissors, one kid fucking around with a pair of boxing gloves, one girl pushed out of a window (ground floor at least) and a 15 year old boy showing me pictures of his baby son(I think).

    I got dragged up to fill in for a math class for 4th hour. The classroom was locked so I hunted down keys while the kids grab assed each other in halls making a racket. of course there was no fucking lesson plan even while a huge overhead projector stated on the wall that the lesson plan was on her desk. Naw, fuck that shit…too easy, you damned slacker substitute! You are gonna work for that 81 bucks today, bitch!

    So a couple of the kids and I rummaged through her computer files and the loose papers all over her desk and settled on something they hadn’t done…maybe. This was a pre-calc class so the kids were fairly on the ball when they had something to do.

    But…the hall people started coming in. I have no idea who the hell they were, where they were supposed to be or why they were disrupting my class. Kids would just wander in and start bullshitting with my students out of the wild blue yonder.

    “Who are you? Why are you in my room? What class are you supposed to be in?”

    I’m just talking with my boy here.

    “No, you are leaving my class. Get out and go back to your class where you belong. Leave now, please.”

    This happened every 8 or 9 minutes.

    I need some scotch.

    • joe from Lowell

      My very first day subbing, a kid threw a desk at another kid.

      • Murc

        I keep hearing about shit like this and it really drives in how white-bread and boring my school was.

      • ThrottleJockey

        My first day subbing was my last day subbing. God bless teachers.

    • My dad worked as a teacher for many years (after the market for aerospace-industry semiconductor engineers in the Philadelphia area dried up, for some reason), and although I was exposed to a lot more gossip than most eleven year olds should probably hear, I know they put up with a lot of crap, including from the “nice” middle class kids.

    • Cripes!

    • Linnaeus

      Obviously, teachers are the real problem with American education these days.

    • Derelict

      Thanks for this. I’ve been considering subbing at the local high school, but this makes me think that sitting home and editing dissertations is a much better deal.

      • Lee Rudolph

        It’s all fun and games until the hall ABDs start coming in.

        • Linnaeus

          We really are an unruly lot.

      • celticdragonchick

        This was not the typical experience I have had. Some schools really are better than others. Ghat being said, you can expect to have a day like this at least once in awhile.

  • Ken

    One way businesses control this sort of gaming is with a non-refundable application fee. Perhaps the fee could be applied to the employer’s FICA share, so it ends up costing them nothing.

    • twbb

      Steady, in-depth audits of hiring practices including using undercover applicants would also work.

  • anon1
  • I think (it’s probably obvious) that anything that can be gamed is going to be gamed, given enough time and motivation, and any gaming of the system that took place is going to carry over to any new system, including an immigration system. There was nepotism before, and people will use (or try to use) the H1B system to enable nepotism. There was exploitation of temporary workers from overseas before, and people are using the H1B program to enable that, too.

    Some of the international consulting companies that do this, including some owned by people of the same nationalities as the workers, defend their practices by saying it helps train and build up their own countries’ workforce, which is probably true. Some US-based managers believe this, apparently, as well. Granting green cards instead would mess up their business model which is supposed to be that their employees get trained in low-level jobs overseas and then come home to use their training, which allows them to rotate through a new workforce every few years.

  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    I’ve read maybe a dozen or so articles like this on H1B abuses, and Ron Hira appears in every single one. He’s like the Campos/Tamanaha of the H1B scam.

  • Ransom Stoddard

    I don’t want to come off as combative, but I really wish Loomis and some of the commenters on this thread would reconsider their perception of the problems with the H1-B program as well as immigration as a whole.

    First of all, before you think about the economics of immigration, note that the welfare of the immigrants themselves is sometimes almost always given literally zero weight in these discussions. Before you make an argument about “American jobs” or “American wages”, (as I sadly note many previous commenters have done) consider that you’ve instantly suggested that there is something unique and special about the well being of people with a certain heritage. Consider that African-Americans were once accused of driving down wages for whites. Does (or, really, would) the granting of equal opportunity of participation to African-Americans in the labor market make white Americans worse off as a whole? And even if it did drive down wages for certain white workers, would that be a morally legitimate reason to use the threat of violence to force African-Americans to not compete in the labor market? I ask these questions because they present moral equivalents to immigration restrictions, and yet it seems like many commenters would have very different views on the passage of a law preventing one group of people from working than they would on a law applying to another group of people.

    So, beginning to touch on to the economics of the issue, what are the gains to immigrants? Clemens (https://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.3.198) finds the gains for a naturally randomized set of H1-B workers to be around $58,000 yearly. This is a massive increase based almost purely on location. Whenever I see data on the wage gains from immigration, it’s always some similarly massive disparity (e.g. I read recently that the wages for Mexican agricultural workers post-WW2 were ~$500 yearly in Mexico compared to ~$2,500 in the U.S.). When people talk about immigration and wages in vague terms without any data, they rarely talk about the massive gains to the migrants. The logic behind this is fairly simple: when a person is in an area with things like violence and corruption it is much harder for them to use their skills to produce valuable things. People will therefore naturally move to the areas without these things where their labor is most valuable*. This happens within countries, such as in China’s recent mass migration to cities. This is a good thing; it leads to an increase in the output/input ratio and the real standard of living. As they say on college campuses, “check your [American-born] privilege”.

    But we heavily restrict, regulate and generally control the market for labor at the international level. The median estimate is that open borders would double world GDP (http://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.25.3.83). Loomis claims in the OP that immigration increases inequality, but the actual effect of immigration is to massively decrease inequality. The unrealized pure efficiency and welfare gains are stupendous yet the most liberal position you can stake out in today’s political climate is a path to citizenship for the undocumented migrants already here. I guess this isn’t surprising in one sense; people who understand why open borders would be such a good thing tend to be in the union of the sets of “people who do not hate brown people” and “people who think markets are good at making stuff”. There are more liberals in the latter than there are conservatives in the former, but not enough to shift the Overton window to the position it should go to.

    So, bringing it back to the H1-B program, the problem with the H1-B program is that the government sets a quota for the number of high skilled immigrants at all. “Attempting to evade incredibly moronic, purposeless laws” is not “gaming the system”. Studies of the program (e.g. http://www.renewoureconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/pnae_h1b.pdf) have found massive losses in output as a result of the restrictions. I don’t agree at all with anti-immigrant policies directed at low skilled workers, but I can (somewhat) understand why people oppose immigration that could potentially displace Americans at the bottom of the ladder. I don’t understand at all why anyone opposes high skilled immigration that potentially displaces computer programmers.

    *This will (possibly–it’s actually a little more complicated, but I want to make a general point) lower wages in those areas. This is not a bad thing: wages, profits and rents exist to signal relative scarcities. When prices are high, it would be efficient for more of those things to be made; when prices are low, it would be efficient for fewer of those things to be made. I firmly support large government redistribution of incomes from the rich to the poor; I firmly oppose large government redistribution of wages, profits or rents.

    • I don’t really claim half of the things that you suggest. You should read my posts more carefully. Not to mention my book, at least if you are going to keep making these claims.

    • postmodulator

      note that the welfare of the immigrants themselves is sometimes almost always given literally zero weight in these discussions.

      This is a deeply dishonest statement, past which in your comment I did not read. There are multiple comments in this thread mentioning the welfare of the H1-B visa holders. No person capable of such a statement can have anything to add to a discussion.

      • Ransom Stoddard

        Not really. In fairness, this post had more people sympathetic to migrants than the average discussion of immigration, but they often seem to refuse to believe a priori that anyone could possibly want to live under capitalist exploitation. But there are a lot of opinions like these in circulation:

        Derelict says:
        November 15, 2015 at 12:30 pm
        Not mentioned is the impact H1-B has one wages. You get companies applying for the visas because they can’t find anyone to fill those critical positions despite advertising the openings. But the reason they can’t fill the positions is because the wage they want to pay is something like $18,000/yr and no American college graduates are willing or able to accept that wage.

        ThrottleJockey says:
        November 15, 2015 at 2:34 pm
        My problem with the H1B program is that it clearly displaces Americans from their jobs. You have employees being forced to train their replacements for God’s sake. This isn’t like unskilled immigration which doesn’t *appear* to separate workers from their jobs.

        I find it preposterous, if not absurd, that in a country of 315M people that there are skills which can’t be had here at a reasonable wage.

        [Loomis OP] This is just more evidence that we need legal crackdowns on outsourcing if we want to preserve any sort of American jobs. The H1-B Visa program should be a good thing that helps build the nation through bringing in workers that can help companies while diversifying the nation. But this level of abuse by corporations who want to outsource as many employees as possible is actually forcing work abroad. The system needs serious reform if it doesn’t contribute to income inequality and joblessness rather than promoting the needs of innovative companies.

        • postmodulator

          Indulge my curiosity. What part of “No person capable of such a statement can have anything to add to a discussion” was incomprehensible to you? All the words are in pretty common usage and the sentence structure isn’t exactly Joycean.

        • Gregor Sansa

          What part of “green cards” don’t you understand? People here are not saying, shut the door; they are saying, if you’re going to let somebody in, give them the same labor rights as anybody else here, because not to do so is encouraging employers to fire freefolk to hire serfs.

        • ThrottleJockey

          In the main it’d be a mistake to consider any comments by myself to reflect anyone’s opinion here except my own. On the contrary I’ve gathered that the majority of people here on this thread appear to favor Open Borders. In fact Murc suggests that the only moral stance on immigration is Open Borders: “If you support open borders (which you should if you’re at all interested in a moral immigration policy).”

        • los

          refuse to believe a priori that anyone could possibly want to live under capitalist exploitation

          “want to pay is something like $18,000/yr”

          ahem. you quoted the refutation to your claim…

          Though taking your “want to live under capitalist exploitation” to extremes, I’m sure you could find *at least one* mentally damaged person who would voluntarily enter into lifetime slavery.

      • los

        deeply dishonest statement, past which in your comment I did not read
        I read only a little further.
        but the idea reminded me of the right’s, “you jewish/dissident death camp guests are so ungrateful for the hospitality of us nazis/soviets” accusation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_premise

        writing for myself, I object anytime “employers” abuse employees.

      • ColBatGuano

        almost always given literally zero weight

        That is some authentic frontier gibberish right there.

        I don’t understand at all why anyone opposes high skilled immigration that potentially displaces computer programmers.

        Because it also has the effect of driving down their wages?

    • Bill Murray

      how is Erik not taking into account the welfare of the immigrant, when much of this talks about the conditions of the visa leading to nigh-serfdom? Basically, your point only really holds if you’re like TJ and consider only wages as the measure of someone’s condition.

      Personally I firmly oppose government sanction of employees having their employee control their movement and do so while paying considerable less than the going wage. But then I don’t want to live in asshole Libertarian world

  • AGM

    You could get rid of a lot of the problems just by changing the job requirement of the H1B to exclude jobs at 3rd party staffing companies. I worked in the US on an E-3 visa which is functionally equivalent of a H1B, but I was always hired directly by the company I was working for and payed and treated exactly the same as American employees in the same role.

    All the H1B horror stories I heard (getting a third the pay of American co-workers, sleeping in a dorm with other workers) were about people hired by 3rd party firms that had staffing contracts with major companies.

  • Tyro

    It also bears mentioning that this abuse of the H1-B process creates a very perverse incentive: if employers and corporations in need of support staff know that there is effectively an infinite source of skilled foreign labor that can be brought in to the US and cycled through, then they have no incentive to support domestic training and education of such skills. And Americans will decide that since they can be easily replaced by bringing in H1-Bs to replace them if their skills become well-paying enough, they will simply opt out of those fields.

    This gets down to a basic question: do we want a middle class, or not? Or do we want skilled labor to be the domain of temporary workers from abroad who come, send money back home, and return to their home countries for wages that don’t need to support the expenses of maintaining a home and family in the USA?

  • j_kay

    The thread’s right that restoring real immigration’s the answer, I totally agree.s

    There’s an issue that only a small fraction of us are `want to be engineers or learn languages untaught in primary school.

    Engineers are decently paid and treated, except entertainment – gaming and Hollywood. Remember to do something else if you’re thinking of those industries; want life as a sharecropper?

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