A new report debunks arguments long touted by H-1B critics to say foreign workers don’t cost less, don’t replace natives and the US is actually short of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) workers, and needs help.
The report by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), a respected DC think-tank, makes standard, but timely, arguments in support of H-1B.
It will be widely welcomed by India IT companies that are the largest recipients of H-1Bs and have been thus under fire in recent years accused of taking away native jobs.
“Good report,” said a representative of those of companies, “this is the argument we and other tech companies (US, Indian and others) have been making for some time.”
There has been a move to expand the H-1B programme, which allows US firms to hire high-skilled foreign workers, but some lawmakers and unions have opposed it strenuously.
They have argued, including in congressional hearings, that the US doesn’t actually need STEM workers form abroad, that foreign workers displace native workers as they cost less.
ITIF says in its report released Monday most H-1B critics are “more interested in protecting the salaries of high-wage professionals than in helping the broad base of American consumers and workers”.
Arguments against STEM shortage are often based on metrics that are “poorly constructed or intentionally misleading”. A Census Bureau definition of STEM, which includes political science and psychology, is used to contend that STEM graduates often don’t go into STEM jobs, which, according to them, proves there is excess labor going around.
About H-1B workers costing less than natives, the report said, citing many studies that, except database administrators and network administrators, guest workers mostly get more.
The report also argues foreign workers don’t replace American — though there have been some recent cases, such as in California — but expand the overall pool.
In fact, the report said, H-1B cap, currently of 65,000 annually, forces many companies to move their operations aboard faced with shortage of hands, and unable to fire foreign workers.
Microsoft, it said, is setting up a development center in Vancouver, Canada, right across the border from its head office in Redmond, Washington state, citing flexible immigration rules.