US citizen hurt by H-1B program testifies before CongressThe H-1B visa program was intended to give U.S. companies access to foreign workers when qualified U.S. citizens cannot be found. Salaries paid to foreign and domestic workers are supposed to be at the market rate for a given occupation. For many, however, the reality is far from the intent.
"There are thousands of unemployed Americans with the skills, drive and creativity needed to thrive in the current marketplace," said David Huber in written testimony submitted to the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims. "Yet too many cannot find jobs because companies are turning to H-1B workers as a first choice, before even advertising open positions to American workers."
Huber, who testified before the subcommittee on 30 March, is a former lead network engineer for a NASA space shuttle project who was hurt by the H-1B program twice. First, after being assured in early 2002 that he was within the salary range for experienced network technologists at Bank One (now JP Morgan Chase) in Chicago, he was told that the job he was applying for actually paid $30,000 less per year. Meanwhile, around that time, Bank One received permission from the Department of Labor to hire 33 H-1B workers, 14 in Chicago, including for jobs Huber was qualified to perform, according to his testimony.
"At about the same time I was offered a job for $30,000 less than market rates, Bank One was telling the U.S. government that it couldn't find qualified Americans to do the type of work I was already doing," Huber testified.
Then, three months after being hired as a network consultant at Commonwealth Edison (Com Ed) in 2003, the company that provides electricity for most of the Chicago area, Huber was replaced by three non-U.S. citizens. None of the three were employed by Com Ed, and two of the replacement workers came from a job shop in Houston.
"In both instances -- at Bank One and Com Ed -- those hired were less qualified than I was," Huber testified. "They had less experience and had never managed a project before."
Huber's experience is not unique. Thousands of U.S. citizens have been replaced by H-1B visa holders, often at lower wages. Many have also had to train their replacements if they wanted to receive a severance package.
The administration's Office of Management and Budget concluded in a 2005 report (http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/expectmore/detail.10002378.2005.html) that the H-1B program is "vulnerable to fraud or abuse." The report recommended adding "an audit function or other anti-fraud protections," and advocated requiring "employers filing H-1B applications to test the labor market to ensure no U.S. workers are available and willing to fill the position."
Go to http://judiciary.house.gov/oversight.aspx?ID=229 for links to Huber's testimony and that of the three other witnesses.
Rather than expanding the H-1B program, as the Senate Judiciary Committee has recommended, IEEE-USA believes the permanent immigration of skilled scientists and engineers is better for our country's capacity to innovate and meet high-tech workforce demands. IEEE-USA also supports the H-1B reform legislation (http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/releases/2005/112105pr.asp) that Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) introduced last November.
IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 220,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of the IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of the IEEE, the world's largest technical professional society with 360,000 members in 150 countries. For more information, go to http://www.ieeeusa.org.
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