Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg Use Stealth to Push Outsourcing Bill

published 2019-07-18 10:27:27 by Neil Munro

Tech billionaires and Silicon Valley investors are trying to snatch a valuable prize from President Donald Trump’s hand before he can win pro-American immigration reforms in 2021.

The prize is the removal of “country caps” on the award of green cards to company-picked foreign workers — and it is likely worth tens of billions of dollars to investors.

GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte traded the same country-cap card in 2018 to get about 30 additional votes from House legislators for his immigration reform plan, a Hill source told Breitbart News. The swap was reasonable because Goodlatte’s reform would have gained numerous benefits for American, including merit immigration, reduction in legal immigration, and the mandatory use of E-Verify. Still, Goodlatte’s bill was defeated, mainly because of hostility by then-Majority Leader Paul Ryan, a fervent advocate for a high-migration, low-wage economy.

If Trump wins reelection in 2020, he is likely to try again to push an immigration reform bill through Congress in 2021. But his chances of a 2021 legislative victory will be reduced if the “country cap” card is thrown away this month — in exchange for nothing — because of lobbying by business groups and Democrats.

Business groups are pressuring Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and President Trump to endorse the “country cap” giveaway because it would allow investors to dramatically increase the inflow of cheap Indian college-graduates into the U.S. workforce, even without changing the total number of green cards issued each year.

The giveaway is in a House bill, HR.1044, and a matching Senate bill, S.368. Both bills end the country caps, provide fast-track green cards to roughly 300,000 Indian H-1B contract workers, and both expand the reward for more Indians to become contract workers in the United States — and neither bill offers any significant benefits to Trump’s agenda or Americans. The House bill passed July 10, and the similar Senate bill is being pushed by GOP Sen. Mike Lee, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who may face Trump in November 2020.

“Trump should reject this bill now because he would get more bargaining power in 2021,” said Barbara Birch, a technology worker in New York. She is still working even though many of her peers have lost their jobs and careers to imported H-1B contract-workers. The country-cap bill “is a lazy and unfair, ill-thought workaround to a very complicated mess,” said Birch, who is a co-founder of an new association for technology professionals, titled the American Workers Coalition.

“I hope the administration realizes just how bad this policy is,” said Rosemary Jenks, the policy director at NumbersUSA. She continued:

All of the congressional fixes needed to stop the border surge — none of them is part of the [country cap] conversation. Why is this one big thing that business wants sailing though Congress and not a single thing that would help [Trump] on the border is being talked about?”

In 2021, Trump should push for the pro-American reforms included in Goodlatte’s merit-immigration bill — which also make the country caps irrelevant, she said. “The only way that giving away the per-country caps is not bad policy is if it is part of a merit-based system,” she said.

Stealth Lobbying

So far, the investors — including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — and many other companies have gotten their country-cap bill through the House and into the Senate with the aid of a novel strategy — Complete Media Silence.

The silence has ensured a near-total blackout by establishment media outlets, including Bezos’ Washington Post.

The silence has allowed lobbyists to quietly persuade 140 GOP legislators that the legislation is minor, uncontroversial, harmless, and fair to a supposedly victimized group of 300,000 unfortunate and diligent foreign workers. That media silence kept GOP and Democratic legislators in the dark about the political risks and civic costs of the giveaway — so it allowed the business lobbies to pass the House bill, HR.1044, by a lopsided score of 365 to 65 on July 10.

The giveaway proved very unpopular in the GOP’s base.

The group nearly passed their giveaway bill in the Senate on June 27 when Sen. Mike Lee introduced a surprise “unanimous consent” proposal on the Senate floor. If Sen. Rand Paul had not objected, the Senate version of the country caps bill would have passed without a hearing, a vote or a public debate.

The lobbyists have quietly collected 34 Senate sponsors for the S.368 bill, and likely have many more yes votes if McConnell allows a Senate vote.

“They want to say [to the Senate] ‘What is the fuss about? Like the House, let’s just suspend the rules, it’s not controversial,’” said Kevin Lynn, founder of Progressives for Immigration Reform.

In reality, he said, “this is about the life and death of the American productive class.”

This stealth strategy is a big change from 2013 when business groups funded a broad and loud push to pass the “Gang of Eight” amnesty through the Senate.

The 2013 lobbying was accompanied by presidential statements, press conferences, policy papers, public debate, push polls, TV appearances, establishment-media cheerleading, and constant TV appearances by Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Lindsey Graham, and many others. The vast and expensive push got their bill through the Senate. But the expensive P.R. was suddenly defeated in the House when a closed-door push by Rep. Paul Ryan was gutted by the shocking June 2014 primary defeat of Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The silence strategy has a second huge advantage — it uses the companies’ imported workforce of Indian contract-workers as the sympathetic public face of the investors’ hard-nosed campaign for higher stock prices.

 

Follow the Money

Each year, the government provides green cards to 120,000 foregin college-graduate workers nominated by companies.

Silicon Valley and U.S. investors uses this giveaway to recruit and motivate a resident domestic army of at least 8o0,000 low-wage foreign workers — plus roughly perhaps 550,000 foreign spouses and children —  who are imported to the United States via the H-1B visa program.

Roughly 500,000 of these H-1B foreign graduates are using three-year work permits to work in a very wide variety of promising jobs. But the companies have boosted the resident workforce by nominating 300,000 additional H-1B workers for green cards, so allowing them to stay once they reach the apparent six-year limit in the H-1B program.

Most of these imported workers are Indians because U.S. companies have gradually created a bi-national outsourcing economy with Indian companies and the Indian government.

This little-recognized joint outsourcing economy is huge — and is very beneficial to the Indian government and to Wall Street investors — precisely because it has forced down wages for many U.S. professionals, and especially for American software experts.

It is good for business, in part, because U.S. workplace rules are rarely enforced in Indian-dominated workplaces throughout the United States, many U.S graduates and Indian workers tell Breitbart News. Qualified American applicants from prestige universities who seeking jobs in major U.S. companies are routinely passed over while Indian recruiters and Indian managers trade stolen resumes, fake interviews, under-the-table payments, and job offers with underqualified Indians from favored caste or regional groups — in the United States and in India, the Indians and American workers say.

The H-1B outsourcing industry also concentrates U.S. economic growth in a few states and cities, and prevents heartland states and smaller cities from using their local graduates to attract new investment from the investors living in major cities in California, New York, or Texas. For example, few technology jobs are created in Kentucky or Indiana partly because California investors can easily hire just-arrived Indian “students” for jobs in nearby Silicon Valley. Similarly, many of the H-1B jobs in Rep. Ken Buck’s 2nd Colorado district are in the Boulder suburbs, not in the smaller towns throughout the rest of his district.

A key feature of this outsourcing economy is the existence of a hidden yet huge U.S. government subsidy — the promise of government-provided green cards to compliant foreign workers.

U.S. and Indian companies dangle this valuable prize before their Indian employees to ensure they work long hours at for low-wages for many years — and also quietly endure Indian-style working conditions without changing jobs.

But this size of this subsidized outsourcing economy is compressed by little-understood “country caps” in U.S immigration law.

The “country caps” limit the award of green cards to people from each country to just 7 percent of the 120,000 green cards delivered by companies each year. The goal is to diversify the award of green-cards to people around the world. In practice, complex rules mean that Indian workers and their families get about 23,000 green cards each year. or roughly 20 percent of the cards.

U.S. and Indian companies have ignored those country caps as they competed to recruit and expand their Indian workforces with excessive promises of green cards.

Since 2010, these companies and Indian workers have jointly created a huge backlog of roughly 300,000 workers and 300,000 family members. The backlog is so huge that an Indian worker nominated for a green card today may have to wait more than five, 15 or even 150 years, depending on their category. Before the companies created this backlog, Indians could get their green cards in a few years. In June 2019, for example, the government provided green cards to Indians who were nominated in 2015 or 2009.

The growing backlog is bad for the U.S.-India outsourcing economy because fewer Indians are willing to take the low-wage U.S. jobs if they can not also get green cards.

The pending legislation would remove the country caps and so allow companies to quadruple the supply of green cards to Indians in the outsourcing economy.

The extra green cards would supercharge the outsourcing economy partly because there are no U.S. limits whatsoever — in any way, shape or form – on the number of Indians who are allowed to take college-level jobs throughout the United States.

Business lobbyists repeatedly suggest the Indian inflow is limited because the annual inflow of H-1B contract-workers is capped at 85,000 a year. But the lobbyists do not tell staffers that:

Although H-1Bs provide the main on-ramp to green cards, companies can also nominate Indians who hold visas from the uncapped L-1 contract-worker program.

Federal regulations allow non-profit businesses — for example, hospitals — to hire an uncapped number of H-1Bs. Business-tied groups are already lobbying to remove the caps on H-1B workers in for-profit healthcare jobs.

Federal law allows temporary contract-workers to stay in the United States once their employers nominate them for green cards. This loophole has allowed the companies to keep roughly 350,000 extra Indian and Chinese H-1Bs in the United States after their visas expired.

The uncapped “Optional Practical Training” program offers instant work-permits to Indians who register at U.S. colleges, and it also provides companies with a 15 percent tax-break for hiring the foreigners instead of Americans. Many OPTs post their resumes at MyVisajobs.com as they try compete to graduate into the H-1B sector. The proposed expansion of green cards for Indians will allow this huge farm-team program to recruit many more people from India — population, 1.3 billion — to replace more American graduates.

Many Indian workers who fail to get into the H-1B program stay on in the United States as illegal workers for subcontractors, often with faked OPT or H-1B approvals. This supply of illegal college-graduate workers helps to lower investors’ payroll costs.

The OPT progam’s rapid growth stopped in 2017 and 2018, partly because of long delays for green cards. In 2017, 291,635 foreigners were given one-year OPT work permits, and another 60,410 were given three-year OPT work permits.

Investors want to super-charge this U.S.-Indian outsourcing economy, and they are using their backlogged workforce as the public face of their campaign.

The Sympathetic Indian Contract-Workers

Federal data suggests the Indian backlog may include 300,000 workers and 300,000 families.

The backlogged workers have a huge incentive to lobby legislators. Many of these Indians are working long hours in low-wage jobs, without the power to change jobs or to reject their bosses. Many have been waiting for a decade or more for the green cards that will convert them into free and legal immigrants, and many are worried their Indian-born children will become adults and be sent home before they can get green cards.

Some of the backlogged Indians are organized by Immigration Voice, which presents itself as a volunteer group of Indians.

Under advice from IV, these contract workers use face-to-face pitches to staffers and Senators and portray themselves “immigrants” stuck behind a “150-year wait,” who are victimized by “unfair” diversity rules. This pitch has won much sympathetic coverage from one-sided and credulous reporters, and many sympathy votes from GOP and Democratic legislators. In 2018, for example, GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder showcased his support for the giveaway as solidarity with constituents and with an Indian widow – Sunayana Dumala — of an H-1B contract-worker who was murdered in a bar. The husband had been hired instead of an American by a U.S. company, Garmin.

IV is now working closely with Leon Fresco, the immigation lawyers who worked for Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in 2013 and helped to draft the disastrous “Gang of Eight” amnesty and cheap-labor legislation. The group is central to the country-cap campaign, and five of the leaders were invited to the Senate floor on June 27 when Sen. Mike Lee tried to get his S.386 through the Senate via “Unanimous Consent.”

But the companies’ strategy of hiding their role spotlights the political unpopularity of their outsourcing business, says Lynn. “It is the greed that dare not speak its name.”

For example, this stealth campaign stumbled in 2018 when Breitbart News highlighted Yoder’s surprise endorsement of the 2018 giveaway bill in an unrecorded voice vote in the House appropriations committee. Amid the Breitbart coverage, Yoder’s lost his reelection campaign, and his amendment was stripped from the final bill amid opposition from a new wave of professional activist groups.

The new American groups include the American Workers Coalitiondoctorswithoutjobs.comProUSworkersNo on H.R. 1044, and The Multinational Coalition Against H.R. 1044/S. 386. In 2019, these groups helped persuade roughly 11 GOP co-sponsors of HR.1044 to vote against the legislation. In 2018, the groups helped defeat Yoder.

These professional groups are backed up by websites which are tracking the scale and location of the outsourcing industry in each legislator’s district. For example, h1bhuntinglicenses.com allows users to quickly check federal data to see which employers are trying to hire H-1B contract-workers in every zip code or career.  The federal data, for example, shows that employers tried to hire 2,500 foreign architects instead of Americans during the last decade. SAITJ.org allows voters, staffers, and political researchers to quickly see how many H-1B workers were sought in each legislators’ district.

Commercial job-search sites show a huge number of American computer experts are seeking jobs at decent wages. In Utah, for example, a search on Indeed.com showed 463 software developers in Utah were seeking jobs.

While Immigration Voice steers the media away from the money, business groups provide the real political muscle for the green-card giveaway campaign.

 

The Army of Lobbyists 

The muscle comes Silicon Valley and other high-tech investors, including Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook,  Marc Benioff at Salesforce, and Jeff Bezos at Amazon, who also owns the Washington Post.

The investors spike the value of their Wall Street stocks by moving U.S. white-collar jobs into the U.S.-Indian outsourcing economy. Roughly speaking, every dollar cut from U.S payrolls boosts their stock wealth by at least $15.

The Trump reforms would also validate Americans’ demand that the economic interests of ordinary Americans be placed ahead of the investors and their immigrant workforces. If Congress were to validate the claim that immigration should serve the interests of voters — not investors —  it would puncture the investors’ claim that American is a land of and for immigrants. It would also set the stage for more reforms that would reduce the growing wealth gaps between American employees and the investors, and also the regional gaps between Americans’ heartland states and the investors’ home states along the coasts.

These business group also fear Trump’s immigration reforms because they could set a reduction in the number of incoming legal migrants, now about 1 million per year. This annual inflow is a huge stimulus for Wall Street investors, not only because of the government aid for the migrants, but also because the migrants are lifelong consumers, renters, buyers, and spenders. In February 2019, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposed Trump’s reforms, saying it wanted:

No Reduction in Legal Immigration: A functioning immigration system should promote legal immigration, not discourage it. The Chamber supports reprioritizing how visas are allocated to better meet domestic economic and workforce needs, but strongly opposes any reduction in legal immigration. A reduction in legal immigration will hinder overall economic growth and only encourage additional illegal immigration.

The investors’ all-everywhere opposition to pro-American reforms has successfully blocked Trump’s “Four Pillars” plan in February 2018 and has pushed the President to propose a “merit-based immigration” plan in May 2019. The May plan – which might be pushed in 2021 — helps Silicon Valley because it would not reduce overall immigration numbers and would allow for higher inflows of foreign graduates.

More than 125 business lobbyists were registered to lobby for HR.1044 and related issues during the first quarter of 2019, according to Open Secrets, a non-profit group which tracks lobbying.

The lobbyists have made significant progress for the investors. For example, after opposing the giveaway since 2011, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley dropped his opposition in 2019 when “a lot of big tech guys came into the office,” a lobbyist told Breitbart News.

Grassley’s exit was disguised with a set of token reform of the huge H-1B program, which keeps roughly 800,000 foreign white-collar workers — plus 100,000 spouses — in U.S.  companies. Grassley’s concessions allowed Sen. Lee and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham to try their failed unanimous consent coup.

A major information-technology industry group, the Information Technology Industry Council, is at the center of the lobbying for the green-card giveaway. A July 10 letter, for example, said:

Preventing a skilled worker from providing his or her skill set in the United States because of an arbitrary limit placed on his or her country of origin is counterproductive and no longer makes sense in today’s economy.

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act [HR.1044] is much-needed legislation that will enable highly skilled workers who wish to work in the United States to propel innovation, engender growth in our economy, and help create American jobs.

The association’s member companies include Amazon, Accenture, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, and the Indian-run firm, Cognizant, which subcontracts H-1B workers to many American companies.

The IV group also has ties to ITI.

The group’s site claims three industry advisors, including  “Robert Hoffman Senior Vice President of ITI.” Hoffman earlier worked as policy chief for Cognizant, one of the largest Indian companies which subcontract their H-1B contract-workers to brand-name U.S. companies. He left ITI in 2014 and is now employed at Accenture, an accounting firm which is a Top 10 user of H-1B contract workers.

The vice-chairman of ITI’s policy council is Brian Huseman, the vice president of public policy for Amazon. He and three other lobbyists registered their first-quarter 2019 work on the Senate and House bills, as part of the company $3.89 million in spending. Amazon showed its support for the HR.1044 bill via Twitter:

Amazon’s support for the giveaway is logical because it has hired a large number of H-1Bs, including many Indian H-1B workers. The firm has also filed to get green cards for 4,300 of its imported workers, mostly from India. The MyVisaJobs.com site shows the nationality of Amazon’s nominees for green cards:

India(2453); China(891); Canada(342); Australia(136); Mexico(112); Brazil(64); South Korea(59); Taiwan(45); Israel(42); Russia(38)

Another council member is Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global policy. Facebook spent $3.4 million in the first three months for ten lobbyists to lobby a variety of issues, including HR.1044.

Cognizant reported allocating four lobbyists and $410,000 to lobbying during the first quarter of 2019 for the giveaway bill and other issues.

ITI paid a lobbying firm named Mehlman Castagnetti $40,000 per quarter to lobby the House on “immigration reform” and other issues, according to the lobbying disclosure office. The firm’s website says:

Mehlman Castagnetti  understands the process of getting things done in Washington. Who to go to. Who to avoid. When to strike. When to lay low. How to approach. How to retreat. What matters to leaders and what is mere background noise.

ITI declined to respond to messages from Breitbart News.

The lobbying campaign was aided by Americans for Prosperity, which got $80,000 to put eight lobbyists on HR.1044 and S.386 in the first three months of 2019.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce employed 24 lobbyists on many issues, including S.386 and HR.1044.

The technology firms are also major donors to legislators.  “The ten largest U.S. tech companies have given more than $6.6 million in campaign contributions to House members since 2017, including $5 million to cosponsors of the [HR.1044] measure,” according to data released June 12 by MapLight, a non-profit group which tracks company donations. The group added:

Google, the Mountain View-based advertising colossus, accounted for almost $2.2 million; Seattle-based Amazon gave almost $1.1 million, and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft donated more than $1 million. Other major H-1B employers who donated to House lawmakers included Adobe ($26,700); Apple ($277,300); Cisco Systems ($330,000); Facebook ($649,400); IBM ($97,300); Intel ($596,300); and Oracle ($398,100).

However, the people who run the companies provide nearly all of their political donations to Democratic candidates, especially during presidential campaigns. In June 2016, for example, Trump had only 52 donors working for the 200 major tech companies, while Bernie Sanders had 33,094 donors and Hillary Clinton had 2,087 donors.

In the House, the giveaway bill was championed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a former immigration lawyer whose district includes much of Silicon Valley.

The lobbying is also backed by advocacy from FWD.us, an advocacy group founded and funded by West Coast investors, including Zuckerberg. The group is also funded by Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. Very few of the founders and founders are visible advocates for the GOP.

FWD.us is a cheerleader for the giveaway bill, but it is also organizing and boosting other campaigns against Trump’s low-immigration/high-wage policies. For example, FWD.us wealthy founders are supporting the many migrants who are forcing down blue-collar wages and forcing up monthly rents:

Todd Schulte, the director of FWD.us, uses his reach to complain about reporters, often with vague claims:

When asked by Breitbart, Schulte declined to discuss his group’s role in the green-card giveaway campaign. However, the lead lobbyist working for Immigration Voice, Leon Fresco, suggested July 10 that Shulte plays an important role in the campaign:

Schulte’s deputy, Andrew Moriarity, also suggested that the HR.1044 bill is as “crucial” as the Democrats’ planned amnesty for DACA illegals:

Moriarity’s “crucial” comment makes sense in the context of the vast, expensive, and stealthy efforts by investors to block any Trump reform of the nation’s immigration policies.

If the Democrats somehow persuade Trump to accept a DACA amnesty in 2019, he will not be able to trade an DACA amnesty in 2021 for a fixes of the nation’s loopholed border rules and a rollback of the nation’s productivity-reducing chain migration rules or a reduction of migrants’ ability to import their elderly parents into the nation’s Medicare system.

Similarly, if Trump OKs the green-card giveaway in 2019, he won’t be able to trade the giveaway in 2021 for adjustments to the border laws which allows illegals to import their “Unaccompanied Alien Children” via the shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services, or for ending the “Diversity Visa” which allocates green cards to people regardless of skills or productivity.

 

The Impact on Americans

The stakes are huge for ordinary Americans, for investors, and the future of America, say opponents of the U.S.-India outsourcing economy.

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes roughly 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business or healthcare, engineering or science, software or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately 1 million H-1B workers and spouses —plus roughly 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.

“If there is a growing flood of foreign labor, the American middle class is no longer going to exist, and Republicans will not have a constituency,” said Hillarie Gamm, a co-cofounder of Birch’s American Workers Coalition.

“We have been cheated by big government, by reckless corporations, and by Congress,” said Birch. “I’ve been in technology for my whole successful career, but I consider myself a survivor because I am one of the few American women left standing as I’ve seen my coworkers and friends pushed out for years now,” she said.  “Everything about this visa abuse is just further hurting our own women, our own minorities, our own workers — it is infuriating.”

Middle-aged and older Americans are increasingly recognizing the economic damage caused by outsourcing jobs and importing workers, said Lynn. “I just got off the phone with a guy who has not worked in the U.S. in a couple of years,” Lynn told Breitbart News. “He ran the technology at the Washington [D.C.] airport, and he can’t get a freaking job. He’s a black American. It is pretty f…. up,” Lynn said.

“This is crazy that any politician would go into an election voting for a bill like S.386.”

 

The author can be reached at NeilMunroDC

 



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