I am generally a proponent of H1B visas insofar as they serve a needful purpose in providing U.S. employers with sometimes difficult-to-find technical talent. Make no mistake about it, there are brilliant engineers and scientists that come to the U.S. on visas and provide a great service to the country.
Unfortunately, just as with the practice by a large number of U.S. employers when deciding to hiring foreigners (including illegal ones), the motive of many is to undercut salaries. That not only denies citizens of jobs, but it drives down the salaries of everyone. Furthermore, the foreigners often exist under conditions not unlike those which indentured servants endure. This is not my opinion; the situation has been reported in many studies.
So, when I read a column in the September 2008 edition of Microwave Journal, by Mr. Isaac Mendelson, entitled, "Short on RF Engineers? Consider H1B," it really raised my ire. Mr. Mendelson represents ElectroMagneticCareers.com, and he lists five ostensibly good reasons for "importing" engineers, rather than using domestic talent (which as a byproduct means not hiring and training recent graduates). Among them:
"2. Throughout the history of the US, first-generation immigrants have always proven to be hard-working and dedicated employees."
This is an incredibly brazen and insulting statement. Translation: Anybody that was born here is probably a slacker and will not allow you to push him around.
"3. Offering an opportunity to work and live in the United States gains employers with an opportunity to boost their engineering resources with the best among the scientists and engineers that the world has to offer, and for fair and reasonable compensations."
Translation: Why bother training domestic talent when you can exploit poor souls from around the world who would do just about anything to come to the U.S.?
You will be able to read the entire article once the September edition of MWJ is available. Look for the "Career Corner" article.
In reading Mr. Mendelson's columns over time, he does acknowledge the lack of U.S. citizen engineering graduates from our universities, but there seems to be an emphasis on procuring foreign engineers. A large percentage of our graduating engineers are not even American citizens, and they, understandably, seek to remain in the U.S. after graduation rather than return to their countries of origin. So, even though companies might be able to claim to be hiring graduates from U.S. schools, many are neither indigenous nor naturalized citizens. I fully understand the apparent dilemma faced by companies needing engineers with the need to remain competitive in today's global market. It just seems to me that there is not enough willingness to make the short-term sacrifice involved in training new engineering graduates.
Exacerbating the matter is that many of our U.S. companies are owned and run by non-citizen, foreign-based entities who do not have the best interest of the U.S. at heart. That is not to say that they seek to undermine the country's well-being, only that they have no immediate vested interest in being partial to U.S. citizens. Indeed, it benefits the motherland (or fatherland) to exploit America's resources to its advantage. To be honest, we do the same thing abroad, and I do not criticize other countries for doing so here; it's just that our "leaders" in government seem to be sacrificing our hard-earned sovereignty for the sake of their own personal fortunes when framing trade and labor laws (or chosing to ignor existing laws).
There was recently an article describing the crisis in the defense aerospace business, where because those companies have not been hiring and training a cadre of new engineers, the retirement of a large portion of the seasoned workforce is leaving a gaping hole behind. Remember that most of those jobs require being able to obtain a Top Secret or higher security clearance, and being a citizen is a requirement - often requiring the U.S. be your birthplace. At some juncture, will it reach the point where exceptions will need to be made just to get desperately needed workers, along with the higher security risks involved?
I believe a large part of the problem stems from a lack of nationalism and an accompanying willingness to sacrifice one's own needs for the sake of one's country. This is not the same thing as coerced nationalism as it exists communist countries. We in America are free to pursue any [legal] desire we choose, but the level of hedonism has increased noticeably with the advent of globalism. Our kids are taught in school that our country is no place special, and that we unfairly consume more than our fair share of the world's resources. Of course, what escapes their consciences is that the very opportunities of freedom they inherited and enjoy comes from the system they are taught to abhor and denigrate. Most of those same people are unwilling to give up anything personally for the sake of others, but they sure are quick to tell the rest of us that we are pigs. They also conveniently omit teaching about the overwhelming good that America has done for the world - from stemming the red tide of oppressive communism to feeding and providing health care, clothing and shelter to uncountable millions, to exporting technology for aiding developing worlds, to... well... to providing opportunities for foreigners to enjoy the bountifulness of America by issuing them H1B visas.
- Kirt Blattenberger
RF Cafe Progenitor & Webmaster