Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox

A disturbing conclusion could be drawn from the 929 votes so far cast in Light Reading's current Poll on Foreign Workers -- namely, that the majority of readers would like to keep foreigners out of the U.S. even if it means damaging the prospects of U.S. hi-tech industry as a whole.

Presumably, they think the jobs gained from barring foreign workers would outweigh the jobs lost from American companies shifting operations overseas and facing tougher foreign competition.

At least, it's tough to think of another explanation for the paradoxical way in which the votes have been cast to date.

On the one hand, 54 percent of respondents think the annual quota for H-1B visas should be slashed to 10,000 from the 2002 level of 197,537. The same proportion think L1 visas, allowing American companies to transfer staff from overseas offices to the U.S., should be scrapped altogether.

On the other hand, an overwhelming majority of respondents recognize that such restrictions would end up indirectly costing American jobs:

  • 81 percent acknowledge that foreign workers help the U.S. preserve and develop its world leadership in hi-tech.
  • 82 percent think restricting H-1B and L1 visas would end up strengthening foreign competition.
  • 79 percent think restricting H-1B and L1 visas would encourage American companies to shift operations overseas.
Another large proportion of respondents -- 76 percent -- also acknowledge that the U.S benefits from not having to pay for foreign workers' education.

Opinions are pretty much balanced on whether U.S. companies exploit foreign workers on H-1B and L1 visas by forcing them to work for less than Americans.

To take the poll yourself and see the latest results Click here.

— Larry, The Thinking Man's Monkey, Light Reading

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gardner 12/4/2012 | 11:37:29 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox The apparent paradox stems from the fact that the poll assumes that foreign workers must either be H1B or L1 visa holders. It ignores the most ethical way to obtain "foreign" workers: resident visas. Green cards are a much better way than the H1B program which is a sort of high tech bracero program that never should have been allowed in the first place. If we need foreign workers let them immigrate here and cast their lot with the rest of us. (L1 is a different issue. It is being abused now by many offshore software companies but it was meant to allow 1-5 year foreign assignments that are often necessary with Multinational Corporations.) Inviting foreign workers in for a limited time is bad for the foreign workers and bad for those of us who already live here (foreign born and native born both). It is a sleazy way for greedy corporate executives to exploit high tech workers and boost there bonuses. It hurts America and it hurts H1B holders. It always was a problem but now the two-edged nature of this sword is becoming more obvious. In the boom the bad effects were limited to the visa holder him/herself. Now the detrimental effects are falling on Americans and permanent residents too. I say dump the H1B program and start rigorously enforcing the terms of the L1 program so it can't be abused.
lrreader 12/4/2012 | 11:37:19 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox
Sometimes we allow emotions to cloud our reasoning.
Say it is true that corporations pay less to
willing H1B workers, and for that reason they
prefer H1Bs over natives when times are bad.
Now say we don't allow any H1B workers in the
country, to fight back for our lost jobs.
The jobs aint coming back to us.
The corporation will gladly hire the same worker
in her native country at an even lower price.
This point should be under no dispute because
every major corporation and every startup has
an engineering division in China or India.
So neither did the job come back to us but now
other "support" opportunites that the H1B worker
created when she lived here are lost.
So we further increase the unemployment rate.

We insisted that populous countries such as India
and china open up their markets. Unfortunately
it connot be a one way street.
The computer engineering community will have to
lower its living standards in order to compete
against the equally capable Indians and Chinese.
Or, either we have to be better than them, or
we need to change our profession to a more
lucrative one.
What happened to automobile and textile indsutry
is happening to the computer industry.
We should not be so surprised.
Krazykat 12/4/2012 | 11:37:16 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox There are many areas of policy where the interests of corporations are hurting the American people. The list is too obvious to mention (and off-topic) but one example is the latest Bush tax cut. I think we are finally waking up to the fact that something smells rotten in Texas. So it's no paradox (and not suprising) when you and I decide that the H1-B program is not a good policy for the American worker.

After we curtail the H1-B program we should also withdraw from the WTO and Nafta agreements. This would be a radical but necessary step to restore job growth. It'll probably take about 30 years for this to occur, only after China's GDP has surpassed ours and we're in danger of becoming a producer of cheap American goods for affluent Chinese consumers.

After we withdraw from these trade agreements we can tariff imports (including intellectual property) which will make American-made goods more competitive for purchase by American consumers. Thereby creating manufacturing jobs right here in the U.S.A.

Free-traders will argue that protectionism isolates us from the rest of the world. Not exactly true. It will isolate multi-national corporations from global expansion, which will actually benefit mankind in many ways since local cultures/traditions won't be assaulted by foreign influences. Both here and abroad.

Nader, Buchanan, Kucinich, all got it right.
heads-up 12/4/2012 | 11:37:13 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox Irreader,

To ask members of the Computer Engineering
community to reduce their expectations and
standards of living is unacceptable. Why
not ask those 10%, to take some cuts, which
is already inflated to about 1000 times that
of the average American worker, to make some
sacrifices of their own. Realistic or not,
we're at war, we have people dying almost
daily, and for what. Those 10%, have in the
past, sent my friends, one of whom I've known
since the seventh grade to Vietnam; and none
of them came back. Although I'm in favor of
not, and I say again, NOT, eliminating the
H1-B program, I do believe its needs to be
revisited and revised, until Americans can
get back on their feet. Without the tax base
they produce, how are we going to pay teachers,
police, fire, and other community services we
all take for granted. NO!!!! Asking us to
humbly say, "...I will reduce my standard of
living, so joe CEO/CFO and company, can benefit
from their stock options, and a living standard
we only dream of..." is ludicrous and selfish.
Is this why our people are losing their lives
in Iraq, only to come back with nothing waiting
for them? I think not.

There has to be a balance somewhere; some sort
of responsibility from Joe CEO/CFO to the
communities which made them who they are. If
my belief is somewhat short and biased, Im sorry.
My worst fears is this: looking back at history,
if the government FAILS to act to protect its own
workers, then the workers will end up acting on
their own. This is what really scares me; and I
hope, I'm wrong. My response is not out of
emotion, but reality. My father has gone through
an era which I don't want to bring up on this
billboard; but, it might happen again.

I certainly hope not.

Why expect America's hard-working community of
engineers settle for less? Many, like myself,
work long days including weekends; and so far,
I can't say that I've really made it. Presently,
its only a dream away; and I believe, many are
looking for that same dream to come true. I do
it so my children can have a brighter future.

Rightfully so...What is happening to the hard
working American Engineers in this country, is
nothing more then getting the screws put to
them. Is this what we call democracy? Is this
the same country which I defended? My point,
there needs to be a sense of responsibility, a
community responsibility in which to sustain our
society and nation. Just to throw jobs out of
the country and with proud workers on welfare
or out on the streets, is not what I would call democracy.

To close:

Soldiers die, so joe CEO/CFO and company can put
the screws to hard working American dreams, just
to cut costs and bring themselves larger bonuses
and stock options. Now most know how I feel.

Just my two cents ...

dr_smith 12/4/2012 | 11:37:11 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox Great comments here.

I suppose that the loss of high technology jobs are rapidly accelerating here in the US to places like China or India will at some point (by then to late) be an obvious national security issue.

It was a manufacturing base that allowed the North to prevail over the South in the Civil war. It was a manufacturing base that allowed the US to be the victors of WW1 and WW2. Henceforth the manufacturing base has been eroded. The body has been atrophied. Now the mind (high tech) is being atrophied. So friends what will be left in the end but a corpse?

Indeed this will be a national security issue in the future. Until we have leaders in washington who will recognize this, the USA will continue diminish in its capacity.

It may be that soon at some point the H1B situation wont even matter.

Sure we will have engineering schools flooded with foreigners, but at what point will those not even seem viable?

When I meet someone who is considering a future in engineering I can't help but voice my doubts about their return on investment. Why spend all that efort and expense when you will be competing with a foreign worker at 1/10 your salary? (at the present time if you are lucky).

atmguy 12/4/2012 | 11:37:10 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox
>>When I meet someone who is considering a future in engineering I can't help but voice my doubts about their return on investment. Why spend all that efort and expense when you will be competing with a foreign worker at 1/10 your salary?

Very true. But, the salary is not really 1/10th. I hear a good engineer in India makes like $2100/month and so, it is more like 1/5th. Most places have salary freeze for the past 3 years, and so, India and China may slowly catch up.
BobbyMax 12/4/2012 | 11:37:09 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox The excesses of immigration policies have hurt the employment situation in the US. Grren card should not be considered heaven as far the job scarcity is concerned. There are no jobs, so immigration is needed either from India or China.

The immigration war policies of the US government has open door to so many unqualified people. In fact, this also contributed a lot to the employment. For example, the US Government dumped over 200,000 Iraquis on the US soil without any congressional approval.

A massive immigration has occured from India, Vietnam, China. Latin American countries. Phillipines and former Yugoslavia in unprecedented numbers unprecedented numbers. This influx of immigration has caused tremendous harm to our country. The war time immigration was inspired to take moral high ground which does not make sense at all. Invading a country on a flimsy ground and then creating refugees does not make any sense at all. It is like by being uprooted twice: once in the native country and once they are brought as cattles within the US boundry. The Situation in Iraq explain this points very well.

Many of our states have become like a third world country
Napper 12/4/2012 | 11:37:06 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox What no one seems to point out is that Computer Engineers have become commodities in the world market for skilled people. Evolution in operating systems, software, and applications has made the barrier to entry so low that any high school dropout can do sophisticated coding. This is completely lost on the folks who are framing it as a "Foreign Worker" issue.

For too long, many of us in the US have basked in the comfort of being coders and the upper middle class life it affords. Sorry folks, the party is over. We have to use our brains and come up with more innovative ways to add value to the economy than computer programming.

The differential income that we were able to make in the US over that last 20 years was a mirage. It is just now catching up with us. Computer skills are just not too valuable in the world of tomorrow. In the world of yesterday, it was valuable as it was scarce. No longerGǪ.

I suggest we go back to our roots, lower our standard of living, and try to come up with new innovationsGǪthe old fashioned American way. The whining from Computer geeks has become ridiculous of late. Society does not owe us anything. In fact it overpaid us over the last twenty years.
fhe 12/4/2012 | 11:37:05 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox We can elimiate H1-Bs all we want, but more and more companies are beginning to off-shore OUR jobs to India and China.

A Time magazine article said "... U.S. companies are expected to send 3.3 million jobs overseas in the next 12 years..." That is 3.3M people, our children, who are going to be jobless.

BUT, all of these are relatively "short-term" (10-15 years)consequences. The REAL problem is that in say, 30 years from now, most of us Americans will be unemployed. Then, who is going to pay the taxes to sustain this country???

Just take a look at Japan, which has been in recession since the late-80s, and still have trouble getting back these days.

Besides limiting the H1-Bs and L1s, I think we should do something to control the off-shoring, before it gets too ugly.
mtd 12/4/2012 | 11:37:05 PM
re: Foreign Worker Poll Points to Paradox
It is incorrect to think

H1B/L1 = foreigner

That is where the paradox come from. Most people acknowledge the contributions of people from all over the world. They are only opposed to bringing in H1Bs in troves to replace local workers. I have worked in companies where they hired a H1B guy, made the senior engineer train him, and in the next layoff, let the senior engineer go.
Let us go back to the old H1B quotas which allowed only the highly skilled/qualified engineer on a work visa.
90% of the jobs current H1B are doing can easily be done local tech folks. If no agency can do "oversight" on the incoming H1Bs, I say scrap it. Remember the employers are supposed to hire H1Bs if and only if the job cannot be filled by permanent resident. Honor system among employers does not seem to work, so, police it or scrap it.

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