(Rick McKee cartoon / caglecartoons.com)
Recently, the Labor Department announced an 18-month delay in the effective date of the final rule, “Strengthening Wage Protections for the Temporary and Permanent Employment of Certain Aliens in the United States,” mostly foreign nationals working on employment-based visas.
The final rule, originally published in January, will now become effective on Nov.14, 2022. The greater likelihood, however, is that the rule will be delayed again or totally ignored.
The Labor Department’s official explanation is that the 1½-year pushback will provide the agency time to evaluate the legality and policy consequences of the order from President Donald Trump’s administration and also allow time to review public feedback in response to the department’s Request for Information published on April 2 in the Federal Register.
The department’s official statement is, at best, misleading, and is, in truth, a brazen falsehood.
The Labor Department isn’t concerned about “legality” or “policy consequences,” but rather with pressing on with President Joe Biden’s agenda to subvert American workers, and appease the immigration lobby.
The main beneficiaries of the extended delay are corporations that hire H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 visa employees. Those visa categories apply to, respectively, tech workers, so-called specialty workers from Chile and Singapore, and so-called specialty workers from Australia.
A review of the jobs for which foreign-born, alleged specialty workers have been hired shows that the tasks they perform are hardly special, and could easily be done by Americans: teachers, accountants and information technology engineers.
The website moneycontrol.com, which concentrates on Indian financial news, confirmed that the wage hike delay is “indeed a huge relief” to Indian nationals, since they are the “largest beneficiaries of the visa.”
In fiscal year 2019, more than 70 percent of H-1B visas issued went to Indians. By extension, a win for Indians and Chinese — the other significant H-1B beneficiaries — also means another setback for American workers hoping to get a fair shake from the Biden administration.
Trump’s order, which the Biden administration has temporarily gutted, aimed to significantly raise the minimum wages U.S. employers must pay to foreign workers on visa programs like the H-1B.
Hiking foreign laborers’ wages would, in turn, protect American workers from being undercut by cheaper overseas labor. The Economic Policy Institute found that nearly 60 percent of new H-1B positions are certified at wage levels “well below the local median wage for the occupation.”
Critics perceive Biden’s craven display of anti-American worker corporatism as a reward to the Silicon Valley elites such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, as well as other tech tycoons. They profit from cheap H-1B labor, and played a central role in Trump’s 2020 defeat and Biden’s road to the White House.
Once again, the Biden administration has sided with employers seeking foreign labor to depress U.S. wages. This indefensible 18-month delay comes on top of an earlier three-month delay announced in March, and is one of Biden’s many America-last proposals.
Another example: Biden wants to allow foreign students on F-1 visas, which limit employment privileges to on-campus jobs and give permission to remain and work in the United States for 10 years, after which they would receive Green Cards.
If approved, Biden’s plan for international students would represent a massive expansion of the Optional Practical Training Program and Curricular Practical Training, which has about 400,000 participants who can work in the United States for up to three years if their degrees are in science, technology, engineering or math, and thereby compete directly with U.S. college graduates.
The OPT was a one-year work authorization program for international students that later turned into a secondary cheap labor pipeline in addition to the H-1B. Congress never approved the program, which today is larger in terms of its participants than more well-established guest worker programs that the Immigration Act of 1990 created.
After heavy lobbying by Microsoft, the Homeland Security Department under both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama extended the OPT work authorization duration from one year to two years and three years for foreign STEM graduates.
Donor-class employers love OPT employees because they’re hired for being compliant. Employers know that OPT employees are on a time-expiration work permit and are looking for eventual H-1B visa sponsorship to transfer their legal status to, giving employers leverage in holding these foreign workers indentured.
Biden’s callous disregard for American workers and their families is unprecedented. The original intention of F-1 visas was for international students to get a better education than was available to them in their native land. Part of the deal was that the students agreed to return home, and apply their U.S.-gained knowledge to improve their emerging countries.
Instead, through OPT, F-1 students, whose parents never paid taxes into the U.S. university system, can stay for extended periods and inevitably take well-paid, white-collar jobs that Americans deserve.
In post-pandemic, high-unemployment, inflation-ridden America, talented and eager U.S. college graduates deserve a fair shake, something the Biden administration willfully denies them.
— Joe Guzzardi is an analyst and researcher with Progressives for Immigration Reform who now lives in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at [email protected], or follow him on Twitter: @joeguzzardi19. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.