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Letter to the Editor, RE: Black Professionals Assail Visa Increases, Legal Times

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 00051859 (posted May. 18, 2000)"

May 18, 2000

Letters to the Editor
Legal Times
1730 M Street, NW
Suite 802
Washington, DC 20036

To The Editor:

We feel compelled to comment on your recent article about H-1B visas ("Black professionals assail visa increases," May 16). While the piece addresses an important and developing issue, it misses the point in important aspects. In the first place, corporations only go through the time and expense of using temporary foreign professionals after they cannot attract American workers. Secondly, corporations already contribute billions of dollars a year for education, much of it aimed at attracting minority students to careers in math and science.

Why do companies employ temporary foreign professionals under the H-1B program? The primary reasons are severe worker shortages affecting all sectors of our economy, and the demand to fill special needs. The unemployment rate is at a 30-year low, and there aren’t enough workers in the pipeline. As result of these factors, H-1B workers do not depress wages. In fact, for much of the past two years, the Federal Reserve Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have found that wages and benefits for high-tech workers have been increasing.

In an attempt to attract more people into the high-tech workforce, American businesses spend approximately $112 billion a year on retraining American workers and educating American students for careers in the math and sciences. Much of the education money is targeted to schools in predominantly minority districts.

Many local school districts also use H-1B visas to recruit teachers in such specialty areas as math and science. While there are no statistics on where those educators are assigned, anecdotal evidence suggests many of them wind up teaching African-American, Latino and Native American students - the very group the Coalition for Fair Employment in Silicon Valley is trying to help.

Ironically, the very bill before Congress opposed by the Coalition (H.R. 3983) is the only H-1B measure which provides substantial funding for retraining American workers and educating American students, with the bulk of the money going toward attracting low-income and disadvantaged young people.

The important national dialogue over immigration would have been enhanced had your recent article mentioned those facts.


Steven A. Clark