August 5, 1999 Testimony of Gene A. Nelson, Ph.D. supporting a "rollback" with substantial reforms of the harmful employer - designed H-1B Visa program.
The 1990 H-1B Visa legislation, like the 1976 "Eilberg Amendment" cited as precedent, is an example of "special interest politics" at its worst. The common objective for both the H-1B Visa program and the Eilberg Amendment was to reduce employer wage and benefit expenditures for highly skilled labor. Almost all "high tech" workers have failed to see increases in real compensation over the decade of the 1990s. This wage stasis has reduced income taxes collected by the U.S. Treasury from these workers. Since the U.S. Government has "invested" in the future of virtually all "high - tech" workers through substantial postsecondary educational expenditures, the Government is failing to receive their anticipated "return on investment." Instead, a small group that backs the lobbyists for these laws are capturing a large part of the value added by these highly skilled workers. Prime example: Bill Gates, III, now the world's wealthiest man. I estimate that for every dollar spent lobbying for this special - interest legislation, the employers have reduced salary and benefit expenditures by at least a hundred dollars. This amounts to a great economic incentive to deceive both legislators and taxpayers.
Key deceptions include the National Science Foundation's repeated false claims in the late 1980s of a "looming shortage of scientists and engineers." (S&Es) These false claims were used for the twin purposes of passage of the Immigration Act of 1990 (IMMACT - 90) and the expansion of NSF's budget. The reality is a job shortage: For the nominal 13 million people that have been trained as S&Es since 1960, only about ¼ are actually employed as scientists or engineers (S+Es). Since Information Technology (IT) is an integral part of S&E, virtually all of these talented and skilled people demonstrate high aptitude and ability to perform IT tasks.
A second deception was that the provisions of the IMMACT - 90 were to have negligible economic impact on working S&Es. The reality is that the relentless mass terminations and downsizings by "high tech" employers in the 1980s and 1990s have resulted in tremendous economic losses for S&Es. Employers are able to be callous to S&Es since they have insured unprecedented worker gluts. One of the employer's methods has been to import hundreds of thousands of younger foreign nationals through the H-1B program to fill the desks that were emptied in the earlier mass terminations.
A point that has been glossed over is that the nation is breaking its social contract with domestic and foreign - born S&Es. There used to be an incentive to make the sacrifices and investments necessary to become a S+E. The benefit to the individual S+E (and society) was that they would have a career of perhaps fifty years as a result of those sacrifices. No longer. They are fortunate to have a career that is about one fourth as long. [The colleges and universities benefit from this premature obsolescence since they quadruple the demand for their teaching services!] Society loses out, since many inventions take longer than 12.5 years to incubate. Those inventions will never see the light of day. Employer practices are discouraging our best and brightest young people from entering a S&E career. The tools that our society gives to S&Es are extremely powerful. It will require an extremely small fraction of exploited, embittered, S&Es to destroy our society. In one of my exhibits, I demonstrate the emergence of this trend, with the first scientist, Quian Xuesen making his appearance in 1955.
The conclusions from this investigation are 1. A rollback to 15,000 per year (or elimination of) the H-1B Visa program. Independent of the annual visa level, counterintelligence resources are scandalously inadequate. Los Alamos is allocating $115.00 per year per foreign scientist or engineer for counterintelligence. A "user fee" of $5,000.00 per year per foreign national scientist or engineer should be paid by all employers, including colleges and universities. This user fee would be directly transferred to the FBI, without budgetary offsets, to enhance their counterintelligence resources. Based on documented employer abuses, enforcement mechanisms would be necessary to insure that the foreign national was not having their salary reduced from an accurately determined prevailing wage.