This Monday we attended the “You’re Fired!” protest outside of the White House in Washington D.C. The action was organized by Sara Blackwell, President, Protect US Workers an organization dedicated to shedding light on the abuses of the H1-B Visa program. The protest included many voices from the tech industry that felt frustrated and silenced over their exploitation by large corporations. They came together to ensure President Trump will keep his promises on reducing the H1-B visa program, which has proved to be a major factor in thousands of American workers, in technology and other fields, losing their jobs.
One such voice was Mr. Craig Diangelo, of Connecticut. After working almost to retirement in the IT field, he was told by his employer that he and the rest of his co-workers were to be fired, and that they were to train their replacement or lose a conciliatory severance package. Diangelo played along, disheartened by the fact that his long time employer had betrayed him to cut minor costs. Once it was over, he realized something had to be done. So he went to his local congressional representative, Elizabeth Etsy.
Diangelo told us that when he brought up his plight in several town hall meetings and was summarily ignored by her. Afterwards he discovered that Representative Etsy had met several times with Indian tech industry lobbyists, and had visited several Indian tech companies. Moreover, she has embraced a platform of outsourcing cloaked in immigration acceptance. Diangelo decided that enough was enough, and began a campaign for Connecticut’s 5th congressional district, which is up for election in 2018.
Craig’s story is just one of the many that we heard outside the White House, but most were eerily similar: IT workers, STEM field workers, medical workers, all fired or passed over for work because of an easily exploitable system of cheap, foreign labor. We cannot allow our nation to be deceived by corporate interests that attempt to abuse our nation’s generosity and history as a land of immigrants. Make no mistake, these corporations are not bringing in foreign labor out of the kindness of their hearts; they are doing so because these workers cost them less. If nothing is done about it, we could see companies lobbying for increasing numbers of H1-B visas to save costs, with no regard for the Americans that would lose their jobs.
We at Progressives for Immigration Reform are going to be looking at Craig Diangelo and Connecticut’s 5th congressional district in the future. Craig knows exactly what it feels like to be hurt by a system abused by self-interested corporations.
There are approximately 38,672 H1-B Visa applications for positions in the state of Connecticut. These are jobs that either are not going to an American or won’t be going to an American. Of that number, 86% are either skill levels “entry level” or “qualified.” (Levels 1 and 2 on the LCA application.) For a supposed “genius visa” program, it’s bizarre to think that only 14% of Visa holders are considered “experienced” or “fully competent.” If H1-B Visas were no longer allotted to entry level or qualified jobs, there would be over 33,000 jobs available to the people of Connecticut.