ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Dear Editor:
I'm glad to see my remarks on the H-1B issue sparked a good debate, but I must say I am surprised to see the, forgive me, disingenuous nature of many of the comments made. A common theme among those who responded was an objection to my mentioning that the H-1Bs are de facto indentured servants. The indignant respondents implied that this was something I conjured up myself, ignoring my statement that even the highly pro-industry National Research Council report, commissioned by Congress, had made the same point. The H-1Bs themselves have made the point as well. As many of you know, they formed an organization, the Immigrants Support Network, to lobby Congress to alleviate precisely this problem. ISN Board Member Murali Devarakonda has put it this way: "This is legal human rights violation in America...You [as an H-1B] are an indentured servant, a modern-day slave, must leave the country...You can't be promoted. You are legally prohibited from competing and going up...We cannot compete legally." Whether one likes the specific term "slave," as insulting to Justin's ancestors indicated in his letter to the Editor(and Mr. Siskind's and mine, I might point out to Justin), the fact is that what Mr. Devarakonda said was true, and of course totally contrary to what Mr. Siskind claimed in his letter. All immigration attorneys are well aware of this, so there is no need to "protest too much" in this forum of Immigration Daily. If an H-1B is being sponsored for a green card, he/she is basically immobile until the very last stage of the green card process, i.e. immobile for several years. Employers, immigration attorneys, HR executives etc. have admitted that this immobility (euphemistically referred to as "employer loyalty") is highly attractive to employers. If Mr. Siskind's letter is sincere in its claim that H-1Bs should have full mobility, including during the entire time their green card is pending, from Day One, then he should endorse one of the various "instant green card" proposals which I and others have made. My proposal, outlined in the Web document I cited last time, would allow an H-1B to change jobs as often as he/she wishes, starting right away, yet still get a green card. There is just one problem: My proposal would eliminate the immigration lawyer from the equation. Mr. Siskind's letter to the Editor then brings up the dreaded "P word" - protectionism. How can you accuse "J," the Chinese-American engineer I mentioned who was basically laid off and replaced by H-1Bs, as being "afraid of competition"? He had done a scintillating job for his employer, having been awarded US patents (one of which got a mention in the Wall Street Journal) and formal honors from the employer. But the employer (a household name which I won't mention here) was on a cost-cutting binge, so "J" was tossed out. Those of you who naively think that the best always survive might consider the following rather low-tech example: Circuit City recently announced that it was laying off its top salespeople, and replacing them with entry-level people. The firm hated to do this, but again, the short-term lure of cost-cutting is what took priority. Personally, I'm really big on quality. I've driven only Japanese cars for years, because I think they're made better than the American ones. Similarly, I have very actively supported bringing in "the Best and the Brightest" engineers into this country. I've helped top foreign students get jobs and green cards in the industry, and have persuaded my department colleagues to hire brilliant foreign nationals for our faculty. People of "J"'s talents, whether native or foreign-born, are rare in this industry, so we should grab top people when we have the chance, again regardless of where they were born. But the vast majority of high-tech H-1Bs are ordinary people doing ordinary work. They are the cheapest, not the best and the brightest, as numerous studies have shown, and as those of us who work in the trenches have repeatedly observed. Objecting to the importation of cheap labor is not protectionism, it's the law.

Norm Matloff