To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter
The Democratic candidates in 2004 were just as bad as the Republicans,
in spite of the Democratic Party's putative pro-labor position. I
discussed that at length at the time. If you are interested, plug
into Google. The 2008 election will be no better. Clinton, Obama and
Edwards have all made pro-H-1B statements to the press in recent months.
So, the poor showing of Edwards and Biden in today's debate should be no
Biden's comments are the much worse of the two. He flatly says that it
is illegal to underpay H-1Bs, end of story, and that employers must give
hiring priority to Americans, and then hastily changes the subject. I
am told by many knowledgeable sources that "TubeGate" (the videos of the
immigration law firm teaching its clients how to circumvent the law on
wage requirements for H-1B and green cards, and how to legally avoid
hiring Americans in the green card case) are well known in the Senate.
They may not know much else about the hiring of foreign workers, but
they know about the damning videos. This, together with Biden's abrupt
change of subject (to a worthy but totally unrelated topic), says to me
that Biden knows full well that the H-1B and employer-sponsored green
card programs are a sham, and is deliberately dissembling here.
Edwards is being a bit more honest, though wimpy. He is saying that he
doesn't know who is right in the H-1B debate, Bill Gates or the critics
of the program. No other major candidate has made such a statement. He
also seems to support adding a U.S. worker recruitment requirement into
H-1B, again something none of the other major candidates endorse; on the
contrary, Biden states there is already such a requirement, which is
Edwards' campaign statement in 2004 included the following:
# Stop Abuse in High-Tech Guestworker Programs. High-tech guestworkers
# make a real contribution to America's economy when they do jobs
# Americans can't do. Today, however, companies misuse high-tech
# guestworker programs to hire foreign workers who will just work for
# less. In the H-1B program, labor law violations grew by 565% between
# 1998 and 2002. And there has been wide publicity about abuses of the L1
# program to outsource U.S. jobs. Rather than addressing these abuses,
# President Bush snuck a provision into the Singapore trade deal making it
# easier for companies seeking guestworkers to bring in highly skilled
# guestworkers to displace U.S. workers. Edwards will eliminate the
# flagrant abuses in the H-1B and L1 programs by requiring employers to
# demonstrate that they could not recruit American workers and that they
# pay the prevailing wage. He will also increase the employer fee in the
# H-1B visa program, with the resources continuing to support science and
# math education.
However, in that statement, he implied that the abuses of H-1B are L-1
are merely enforcement issues, which they are most certainly not; the
abuses are LEGAL uses of huge gaping loopholes. The "enforcement fix"
has been a staple of politician weaseling on H-1B on both sides of the
aisle. Sadly, many of the activist groups fighting the program feed
into this, by emphasizing the enforcement issue themselves.
Edwards' pleading of ignorance on H-1B, rather than automatically siding
with Gates, is refreshing, but is it sincere? There is plenty of
reliable data on the H-1B sham available for anyone who really wants to
get to the bottom of this issue, much of it government reports, including
Congress' own commissioned study. Thus, while feigned ignorance would
indicate dishonesty, sincere ignorance would show grave
irresponsibility. Name your poison, voters.
Election 2008 Democrats Debate in Iowa
Transcript: NPR Democratic Candidates' Debate
NPR.org, December 4, 2007 · Following is transcript of the 2007 National Public
Radio Presidential Debate for the Democratic candidates. The debate took place at
the Iowa State Historical and was co-sponsored by Iowa Public Radio.
The candidates attending were Sen. Joseph Biden (DE), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton
(NY), Sen. Christopher Dodd (CT), former Sen. John Edwards (NC), former Sen. Mike
Gravel (AK), Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH), and Sen. Barack Obama (IL).
The debate was moderated by Steve Inskeep, Michele Norris, and Robert Siegel.
SIEGEL: A question for Senator Edwards. If you're elected president, you'll hear
competing claims about H1-B visas for highly skilled workers. People like Bill
Gates will tell you we should have much, much more of them to bring in more
highly skilled workers. Critics of that will say no, the United States is
training other countries' engineers and in fact those workers are working for
less than American-trained specialists and engineers would.
What would you do as president? Expand H1-B visas or scale them back?
MR. EDWARDS: Well — well, the first point is, why is America not educating and
training American workers to do these jobs? I mean, that's the starting point —
SIEGEL: Well, there are Americans who say that they are being trained for those
jobs but that they can't compete with workers from India who will work for 10
MR. EDWARDS: And that's the reason — if American workers are actually competent
to do those jobs, American workers should be doing those jobs. The whole purpose
of the H1-B visa program is to bring people from other places who are — who have
to do jobs that we don't have American workers to do.
Now, I think there are two pieces to this. One is, if there are American workers
who can do the jobs, they should be doing them, as I just said. And they will
when I'm president.
Second, if we don't have adequate American workers — and this is the other side
of the equation, what Bill Gates and others would argue, and I've heard the same
arguments — then that means America's not doing its job of educating our young
people, making —
SIEGEL: But are you saying that for you, it's a matter of fact-finding to see
which way you would go on H1-B visas, or have you already made up your mind that
they should be limited or they should be increased?
MR. EDWARDS: I believe that there are American workers who can do some of these
jobs that people are being brought from other places to do. And I think those
American workers, if they're there and available, should be doing the jobs.
But I — I've — you got to give me 30 more seconds on this, because you can't
ignore the underlying issue. The underlying issue is, are we making it easier for
kids to go to college? Are we driving our young people into engineering, science
and math, the very areas that we're talking about? And are we doing it in a way
that will strengthen the American economy over the long term? Because if we don't
— if we are not the most creative, the best-educated, the most innovative
workforce on the planet, it is very difficult for us to compete.
INSKEEP: Senator Biden.
SEN. BIDEN: Look, I have been working with this for a long time, as former
chairman of the Judiciary Committee. That's where it comes out of. We have it
about right now, except that the employers aren't doing their part.
You use the — Robert, you use the example of an Indian engineer who would work
less than an American engineer. The truth is they're not allowed to hire based on
that. They've got to offer the job. If there's an American there who will take
the job, they can't undercut it by hiring an Indian engineer who will work for
less; that's illegal. We're not enforcing it.
Second point I'd make is, you know, we make this out to be so black and white.
I'm the author of the Violence Against Women Act. It came to my attention not
long ago — it is relevant, believe it or not — what happened? Immigrant women
getting the living crap beat out of them, getting brutalized — brutalized — and
they're afraid to come forward and acknowledge they're being brutalized because
they'll be deported. So what we have to do — sometimes humanitarian needs trump
— trump — immigration laws.
And so what did I do? I changed the law. My colleagues all voted for it. It's now
the law that a woman who comes forward of being beaten will be effectively immune
from being deported so you can put the SOB who's beating her in jail. So
sometimes it trumps. Sometimes humanitarian needs trump an existing law relating
to immigration like that.
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