The strangeness of the American worker shortage for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs was heard by a Senate panel on Thursday in Washington D.C., and it comes after financial analysts reported they are expecting that information technology companies will cut at least 330,000 jobs this year and while at least one Presidential candidate promises to confront a “swiss cheese” border and deal with immigration issues if he is elected.
“Today, we will hear the facts,” said the Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and The National Interest, Senator Jeff Sessions. “The data shows that there is no shortage of highly qualified working American professionals, nor is there a shortage of American STEM college graduates every year. The sad reality is that – not only is there not a shortage of exceptionally qualified U.S. workers – but across the country thousands of U.S. workers are being replaced by foreign labor.”
Executive Officers and “… those aligned with the business lobby continue to perpetuate the myth that there is a shortage of talented U.S. workers to fill positions in technology and other high-skilled employment sectors,” added Senator Sessions. Some of the testimony from witnesses seem to highlight the issue facing American workers in fact.
Guestworker visa programs exploded
Guestworkers into the United States began under the Immigration Act of 1952,” said John M. Miano, J.D. in his first statements to the panel. Originally, there was only one visa category for admitting foreign labor, and that was “H,” said Miano, representing the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Local of the Communications Workers of America, the AFL-CIO.
“The number of programs for guestworkers has exploded since then,” Miano added, and then cited skilled worker programs created by statute, including E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, J, L-1B, O and TN. But wait, there’s more, according to Miano who followed up with guestworker programs created by administrative action: OPT (Optional Practical Training), H-4, and BILOH, which really translates to “B in lieu of H-1B.”
And beginning in 2012, Miano told the panel, “… the executive branch has claimed that it has unlimited authority to grant work authorizations to aliens. This began in the context of illegal aliens under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and followed up with the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program. However recently, the administration has claimed authority for H-1B spouse employment, student employment, and employment by green card applicants. The unlikely source of this newfound authority is this provision defining those aliens employers may not hire without being subject to criminal and civil penalties ….” and Miano cited the following defination of “unauthorized” alien:
“8 U.S.C. §1324 a(h)(3) Definition of unauthorized alien
As used in this section, the term “unauthorized alien” means, with respect to the employment of an alien at a particular time, that the alien is not at that time either (A) an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or (B) authorized to be so employed by this chapter or by the Attorney General.”
Miano then stated that “DHS (Department of Homeland Security) now claims that the ‘or by the Attorney General’ clause confers on the executive ‘co-equal’ authority with Congress to define classes of aliens who may work in the United States.”
Has Congress ceded its own authority? Many may wonder, as four lawsuits challenging the claim of “unlimited executive authority” to grant employment to aliens exist, Miano testified. “If the executive branch prevails in these cases, Congress will have ceded its constitutional authority to control alien employment. So far, only the 5th Circuit has addressed this question. The 5th Circuit, replying on the plain language of the provision, held that § 1324a does not convey such broad authority to DHS.”
The Supreme Court is now reviewing that decision, Miano stated, and “[i]f the courts hold that Congress, indeed, has made such a “broad delegation” to the executive, Congress will effectively be removed from the control of alien employment in the United States and any protections Congress enacts for American workers can be voided through regulation.”
STEM graduate glut in America
Dr. Hal Salzman, Rutgers University professor of the E.J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy, explained the current situation to the assembled Senators. Reviewing the evidence about the STEM workforce supply, Dr. Salzman provided a number of important points. (I only list three here.)
A glut of American graduates exist was the first point. “Overall, our colleges and universities graduate twice the number of STEM graduates as find a job each year; that is, only about half of our STEM graduates enter the STEM workforce,” according to Dr. Salzman. The second point made by the professor was that “[o]f the entire workforce, only about a third of those with STEM degrees are employed in STEM jobs.”
“The glut of scientists at the Ph.D. level is so great in areas such as the life sciences, the National Institutes of Health, the global leader in public funding for health science and research, has an $11 million program in 17universities to develop alternative career paths for the nation’s recent doctorates and post-doctoral Fellows,” said the Professor. “That is, the NIH is
funding efforts to find alternative employment for the 30 to 50 percent of recent Ph.D.s who can not find career employment in the sciences. A number of the country’s leading scientists have started an organization, “Rescuing Biomedical Research”
to do just that, in part by addressing the problem that “…the training pipeline produces more scientists than relevant positions in academia, government and the private sector are capable of absorbing…a growing number of PhDs are in jobs that do not take advantage of the taxpayers’ investment in their lengthy education.”
‘Dizzy-nomics’ and H-1B visas
Former Disney IT Engineer Leo Perrero, who was told he was one of hundred of company employees in Florida that must train a foreign replacement if he wanted to receive severance pay, suffered through several months, knowing he would be out of work. “How do I explain to my young children to follow their dreams and find a job that they love? I followed my dream of having a career in technology to have my very same desk, chair, and computer all taken over by a foreign worker who was just flown in to America weeks before,” he stated.
“We now have American IT workers being displaced by both H1-B visa holders, who are physically being flown in from foreign countries,” said Perrero, “as well as the growing use of foreign remote offshore workers. We are seeing a massive drain on job opportunities here on our own soil.”
The former Disney worker sees firsthand the abuse of the system, he testified. “This abuse of the H1-B Visa is not about a lack of talent here in the U.S. If our own pool of IT professionals were so incompetent-then why would companies like Disney and many others have us train our replacements, spend months teaching them and also why would such a low ratio of STEM graduates from college land a STEM job? This situation at Disney is not an anomaly. This same abuse of the H1B program is happening nationwide.” Perrero wanted to know why American law makers “allow this to happen.”