I appreciate you sharing your thoughts, and I agree that our system is broken. The H-1B program needs to be reformed so that it places a priority on hiring the best and brightest talent from around the world to create American jobs and grow our economy, while also cracking down on abuses by large multinational companies who take advantage of a broken system.
We have to be careful not to see this as a false choice. We can reform the H-1B system and protect both American and immigrant workers while also increasing high-skilled immigration (not only H-1Bs but also opportunities for students and entrepreneurs). In fact, the bipartisan Senate Bill (S. 744) would have done just that — it had multiple enforcement mechanisms to prevent these abuses, including requiring heavy users and H-1B-dependent companies to search more aggressively for American workers first, and keeping workforces under 50% foreign workers.
And really importantly, it would help the actual workers on these visas, allowing them to change employers and travel more easily (something the White House has been working to address with executive action). It’s easy to forget that we are talking about incredibly talented people, many of whom have dreamed of coming to our country to contribute, who have already earned an incredibly competitive job, and are just waiting on a lottery for work authorization. They need reform as well.
The fact is that the H-1B program is good for American workers. For every foreign student who stays and works in the US, 2.62 additional jobs are created. This report from Partnership for a New American Economy details how STEM fields with high numbers of foreign workers have low unemployment for Americans and keep wages high.
I can tell you that I have personally spent a lot of time with H-1B holders and employers who have been able to create jobs for Americans and grow the economy because of this program. You should read my friend Nikhil’s story — he came here to study, managed to get an H-1B in the lottery, and now has grown his startup Tint to over $2 million in revenue and a team of 10. It’s a shame that folks are using these bad actors to attack immigrants and the entire program, but the startup economy across the country is growing rapidly because of these contributions.
At the end of the day, the only way any of this is going to get fixed is if our elected officials in Congress come together and pass commonsense legislation. We can do a lot of it at the same time, but we need to get to work now.