From 2015...

Rubio’s Latest Bipartisan Bill Has a Troubling Surprise in Store for American Workers


Getty - Alex Wong

American workers should take note: Several members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have proposed the “I-squared” legislation again.

The bipartisan bill, which would increase companies’ ability to hire foreign workers at low wages, was first introduced in Congress in 2013.

Now, the Immigration Innovation bill (S.153) is being sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).

One of the primary changes to the bill involves removing the cap on the hiring H-1B guest workers:
“[The bill] would also enable companies to hire an unlimited number of workers with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions in science, technology, engineering and math, which critics have said would turn some universities into diploma factories for foreign students. Currently, the first 20,000 H-1B applications for those with advanced STEM degrees are exempted.”

The reasoning given for this is a critical need for more workers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) occupations.

However, as multiple sources have noted (here, here, here, here and here), there is no empirical evidence that there is a demand for more workers in these fields.In fact, the evidence is to the contrary. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) has a detailed explanation about the actual “need” for more workers in the tech field.

As illustrated in the graph below, the unemployment rate for STEM workers has kept pace with the unemployment rate for other industries.Computer World reports that electrical engineering alone lost 35,000 jobs last year.

Additionally, in recent years, a number of employers in STEM industries have laid off large numbers of American workers.

In the meantime, our schools continue to graduate STEM students who then cannot find work.

According to The Atlantic:
“U.S. higher education produces far more science and engineering graduates annually than there are S&E job openings—the only disagreement is whether it is 100 percent or 200 percent more.”
EPI also outlines some of the major flaws in the proposed legislation:

  • There is no requirement to recruit U.S. workers or advertise job openings before hiring an H-1B guest worker
  • U.S. workers and H-1B workers can be legally replaced with the new, cheaper H-1B workers
  • The benefits gained are primarily by offshore outsourcing companies
  • Wages are “artificially low” for the H-1B workers; some are little more than minimum wage
  • The current flawed wage structure for H-1B workers is not corrected by this bill, leaving 83 percent of H-1B workers certified at levels below the local average wage for their occupation

Tech industry lobbies have been working hard to get this legislation drafted and passed — Mark Zuckerberg’s is just one example of this. Such passage would open the door for them to hire many cheap foreign workers rather than more expensive American workers.