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Dear Editor:
Justin of Chicago, IL's latest letter insists that H-1Bs can change jobs as often as they like. This of course ignores my point that although the H-1Bs have the legal right to move, they typically cannot afford to do so if they are being sponsored for green cards by their employers. Starting the multi-year green card process from scratch again with a new employer is simply an infeasible option. Immigration lawyers who read Immigration Daily know all of this quite well. This is why I apologetically but frankly used the word "disingenuous" the other day, concerning some of the letters in this discussion. Justin's letter states that the H-1Bs his office represents get raises, and that they are paid above the prevailing wage. Whether that is true or not in their cases (and I have very serious doubts that it is), the fact is that most H-1Bs are simply not compensated as well as similar Americans. I've mentioned that a number of statistical studies show this, and the employer survey done by the congressional-commissioned NRC report found that the H-1Bs tended to get "lower wages, less senior job titles, smaller signing bonuses, and smaller pay and compensation increases than would be typical for the work they actually did", quite a statement in view of the fact that the NRC commission consisted mainly of industry representatives and their allies. And again, one doesn't need data to understand this in the first place. If one cannot move about freely in the labor market, one generally cannot get as high a wage as a USC or LPR would; that's Economics 101, folks. Justin's letter then implies that the underpayment of H-1Bs is merely an enforcement problem. This isn't the case at all. On the contrary, there is nothing to enforce. The law, and especially the regulations, are so full of loopholes that it is very easy to underpay an H-1B and yet still be technically in full compliance with the law. When Justin says his H-1Bs get paid over prevailing wage, what he is omitting is the point that "prevailing wage" is the wage calculated according to a myriad of loopholes. Once again, I hardly need to explain this to a group of immigration lawyers. Come on, everyone. Everyone knows those loopholes, I know them, you know them, the big HR departments know them. And we all know whose lobbying got the federal legislative and executive branches to put in those loopholes.

Norm Matloff

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