It is often overlooked in the debate on the H-1B work visa that the program is used to import foreign K-12 teachers. The article in today’s Sacramento Bee is a case in point.
But of course, as the SCTA president points out in the article, the “shortage crisis” is of the school district’s own making. They are simply not offering high enough wages to attract the teachers they need.
In the tech field, one often hears employers say that they hire H-1Bs to work in “hardship posts,” say small towns in the Midwest, or to work in jobs requiring frequent travel. Well, the employer would have to pay an American a premium in such jobs, so even if the employer is paying fair wages for the given region, he is getting a bargain; H-1B is saving him money.
I’ve often mentioned that tech employers like hiring foreign workers because they are essentially immobile, at least if they are being sponsored for a green card. This too can be viewed as a way to save wages, because the employer would have to offer an American more money to keep him from jumping ship to another employer.
The big example of course is hiring younger H-1Bs in lieu of older Americans.
The irony, though, is that the SCTA takes a pro-immigration stance. Taken literally, their position is rather mild — they say for instance, “regardless of immigration status, emergency medical care should not be denied to any person,” which is ALREADY the case — it is clear that these are the kinds of people who view those who call for reduced levels of immigration, e.g. Donald Trump, as ogres. But oh no, when immigration policy affects their own pocketbooks, in this case with the district’s bringing in foreign workers to avoid raising wages, they are adamantly opposed. They’ll be in for quite a shock when they find that comprehensive immigration reform includes a direct and/or indirect expansion of the H-1B program.
But the most militant ethnic activists exhibit no such hypocrisy. Even when the H-1B program harms their own ethnic group, they are quick to shout the magic incantation, “our broken immigration system,” even when an employer does the right thing by hiring U.S. citizens and permanent residents instead of an H-1B. I reported some years ago on a case involving the San Francisco Unified School District. The district had been employing an H-1B Cantonese-speaking counselor but declined to sponsor her for a green card, rightly noting that there were plenty of qualified American Cantonese speakers who could be hired for the $113,000-a-job. Yet the ethnic activists howled.
Many activists on the “restrictionist” side tend to be equally dogmatic and intransigent. It’s sad that we cannot have a national discussion of the immigration issue on a humane but practical basis; sadly, neither the politicians nor the press will allow it.