GOP Sen. Kennedy Blocks Bill to Import More Indian Graduates

Georgia Loses More than $300 Million in Payroll from H-1Bs Workers.

Lousiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy has blocked a bill drafted by a top Democratic Senator that would accelerate the flow of Indian visa workers and immigrants into Americans’ office jobs.

“The American people deserve an immigration system that looks like somebody designed it on purpose,” Kennedy told Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin during a polite conversation on the Senate floor. He said:

I am rising to object [to Durbin’s bill] because a number of my colleagues … would like a little additional time to study this bill. But equally important, if not more important, many of my colleagues’ sentiment is that we should take this bill up first in the judiciary committee.

Kennedy’s October 16 objection blocked Durbin’s effort to pass his “RELIEF Act” via the Senate’s fast-track “Unanimous Consent” process.

Durbin’s RELIEF Act would double the annual award of green cards given to the cheap foreign workers who are hired by American companies for jobs in the United States. It would double the annual inflow to 120,000 workers by exempting their immediate families from the annual cap. The bill would also lift the annual “country caps” and so allow companies to annually reward roughly 100,000 Indian visa-workers with valuable, government-provided green-cards, up from 10,000 Indian workers a year under the current rules.

The touted virtue of the Durbin bill is that it would reduce the population of 300,000 Indian visa-workers who mostly work for below-market wages while waiting for years to get their promised “Employer-Based” green cards.

This so-called “backlog” population of 300,000 workers and 300,000 family members gets much sympathetic coverage from American progressives. But the backlog was created by the crush of Indians who accepted green-card nominations from companies in a barter payment for taking jobs, salaries, and careers that would otherwise have gone to American graduates.

Durbin’s description of his bill suggests that it would dramatically worsen Americans’ vulnerability to Indian outsourcing. By allowing U.S. investors to pay 100,000 green cards to 200,000 Indian workers, spouses, and children each year, it will dramatically expand the citizenship incentives for Indian graduates and their spouses to take good U.S. jobs at sweatshop wages via the uncapped, open, and little-understood B1, OPT, L-1, and H-1B programs.

Those visa programs have already enabled and encouraged U.S. and Indian companies to export millions of white-collar jobs to India and to discriminate against millions of job-seeking American graduates.

Kennedy’s block will require Durbin to gradually build support for his outsourcing bill, via hearings, outside alliances, and public debates where Americans graduates can defend their pocketbook interests.

But Durbin’s push for his RELIEF Act also shows his continued opposition to the GOP Sen. Mike Lee’s green-card giveaway for Indian visa-workers.

U.S. investors are quietly pushing Lee’s S.386 giveaway bill. In July, the business groups persuaded nearly all House Democrats and 140 Republicans to pass a matching job-outsourcing bill, titled HR.1044. The bill was endorsed by India’s government, whose national economic strategy seeks to export workers so that more jobs and businesses are sent back to India.

If passed, Lee’s bill would supercharge the growing U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy, which has already sent at least 2 million white-collar jobs into the Indian economy. Lee’s bill would aid this outsourcing by allowing companies to pay roughly 60,000 green cards each year to Indian workers who take white-collar jobs from Americans.

Lee has tried and failed three times to pass his bill by unanimous consent, and may try again on October 17.

This Kennedy-Durbin-Lee political standoff is a temporary win for groups of U.S. professionals who have lobbied against Lee’s giveaway bill. The American professionals who oppose the Indian giveaway have organized several groups, such as U.S. Tech WorkersWhite-Collar Workers of AmericaProtect US Workers, and Progressives for Immigration Reform.

But Durbin’s RELIEF Act shows the huge political problem facing U.S. graduates as influential investors and progressives quietly ally to import millions of Indian college-graduate workers into the U.S. economy.

The existing population of roughly 1.5 million visa workers — mostly from India — raise the supply of graduates and so reduce salary levels for Americans.

The visa workers take U.S. jobs by using the uncapped OPT, B1, L-1, H4EAD, and H-1B visas, and the EB green-card application process. Many Indians workers stay in sweatshop jobs for a decade or more until they get the hugely valuable prize of green cards and citizenship at a rate of roughly 10,000 a year.

Only about 10,000 Indians workers — plus about 10,000 family members — can get green cards because of the long-standing “country caps” that are intended to promote diversity. Durbin’s bill would end the diversity rule, so allowing roughly 100,000 Indians workers — and approximately 100,000 family members — to get green cards each year.

Durbin’s bigger citizenship incentive will likely help U.S. companies recruit more Indians to take more U.S. jobs from American graduates.

But these Indian workers also export at least one million other U.S. white-collar jobs to teams of college graduates in India. This onshore/offshore process is described in a new discrimination lawsuit against one of the Indian-owned outsourcing firms, Larson & Toubro Infotech.

The firm won a technology-support contract from Iconix Brand Group Inc. in New York. The support was managed by one American employee of Larson & Toubro,  according to the lawsuit filed by the D.C. firm of Kotchen & Low. The single American ran a New York team, which consisted of roughly eight Indians who likely arrived with H-1B visas, the lawsuit says. But the single American also ran a team of 20 Indians in India, and he reported to two Indian managers in India. So the visa programs allowed the Indian company to take roughly 30 good jobs from U.S. white-collar workers with just eight visas, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit noted that “from 2013 to 2018, LTI received 9,785 new H-1B visas (or visa amendments) and almost 200 new L-1 visas (or visa amendments) – far more positions than could actually exist given that LTI only employs about 7,500 employees in the U.S.” The surplus of visa workers allows the company to sideline American job-seekers and instead hire lower-wage Indian visa-workers.

The use of cheaper Indian labor created payroll savings for Iconix and profits for Larson. In turn, those profits boosted the company’s stock values for U.S. investors, including the Vanguard International Stock Index. This Iconix/Larson example is just one tiny corner of the vast U.S.-India Outsourcing Economy, which has received minimal coverage in the U.S. media, despite its huge impact on college-graduate Americans.

The Kotchen lawsuit also says Larson used the visas to discriminate against American job-seekers, including the American manager at the Iconix contract, Andrew Ragland, who was fired when the Iconix contract ended:

While Mr. Ragland’s Indian manager, Mr. Joseph, and the offshore Indian team were quickly allocated to other client projects, Mr. Ragland remained [unused] for three weeks.

During this time, he received no contact from [Larson] LTI, and was not invited to interview for a single position within the company. On March 8, 2019, LTI terminated Mr. Ragland’s employment. LTI terminated Mr. Ragland pursuant to the discriminatory employment practices described above.

Many Americans echo these reports of anti-American discrimination.

Americans say the visa-worker programs encourage Indian managers and recruiters to minimize their costs by hiring unemployed Indian visa-workers — not Americans — for short-term contracts at many American companies, such as Aetna, Bank of America, or Harley-Davidson.

“I have had four on-site interviews since being laid off and interviews with 18 people during those interviews,” a U.S. graduate told Breitbart News September 30. “A full 13 of them appeared to have been born in India, and only one seemed to be likely U.S.-born. That may have been partially bad luck … Still, it seems to point out a risk of one nationality getting too high a representation in the hiring process,” he added.

The huge influx of Indian workers– and the huge export of jobs to India — have combined to change the demographics of Americans’ high-tech careers, nationwide and in Illinois.

Before he was stopped by Kennedy, Durbin used his speech on the Senate floor to tout his immigration-expansion act.

Durbin described his support for migration as an ideological and inspirational cause, and he pushed the 1960s claim that Americans live in a utopian “Nation of Immigrants” — not a coherent culture of settlers, their descendants, and integrated immigrants:

We’ve just celebrated in this past week a day dedicated to Christopher Columbus, who supposedly discovered America. Of course, we know better. Native Americans were here and had discovered it before him. But he was the first European to discover America and really triggered an immigration to this part of the world that has really changed America and the world forever. This immigration from all over the world has created one of the most diverse nations on Earth. I am a beneficiary of that immigration. My mother was an immigrant to America in 1911, coming here from Lithuania to east St. Louis, Illinois, where she was raised and where I had a chance to grow up as well. Today her son, this immigrant mother’s son, has been serving as the United States senator from Illinois with humility and pride. It’s an indication of our family story, but it’s also America’s story, how immigrants came from foreign lands to America and built families that continue to serve this nation to this day.

In a nod to the 2016 election, Durbin admitted that immigration is deeply controversial:

You would think since immigration is such a central part of who we are as Americans, there would be a general consensus about the issue. But it turns out to be one of the most hotly contested and debated issues almost since the arrival of the Mayflower. How many people should be allowed to come into this country? Where are they going to come from? What will they do when they come here? What impact will they have on those of us who are already here? All of these questions have led us into an ongoing debate about immigration.

I serve as the ranking member of the subcommittee on immigration for the Senate judiciary committee. As I said, my own personal family and life experience has really made my warm to the subject and try to learn as much as I can in a complex field. Make no mistake, the immigration system of the United States of America is badly, badly broken. How to fix it is hotly debated here in the Senate, in the House, and across the nation. Last night when I was watching the presidential debates, groups were running ads on the issue of immigration. Many believe that it is going to be a hot topic in the 2020 election.

Durbin explained his opposition to Lee’s S.386 bill. But instead of describing the economic damage it would inflict on Americans and his own Illinois constituents, he described it as unfair to would-be immigrants from countries other than India.  He quoted one expert saying:

“From 2023 until well into the 2030’s, there will be zero EB-2 [green cards] for the rest of the world. None for China, South Korea, Philippines, Britain, Canada, any country in the European Union, and all of Africa. Zero. It will choke off green cards for every important profession that isn’t in the information technology field.”

Durbin continued:

more than 20 national organizations have now rallied against the Lee legislation and have said things such as the bill offers a zero-sum approach pitting one group of immigrants against another to fight a broken immigration system. The RELIEF Act, which I’m introducing today, is a solution.

In the polite language favored by Senators, Kennedy blocked Durbin’s legislation. He then repeated Durbin’s claim about a “Nation of Immigrants,” and also suggested he would be open to alternative immigration bills. Kennedy said:

No-one in this chamber has more respect for the senior senator from Illinois and the democratic whip than I do, and I share much of his frustration. I also share, and I believe the senator also believes, that immigration is an extraordinarily important subject that this body should be addressing. We are a nation of immigrants. The American people support legal immigration. I know the senior senator from Illinois supports it. I certainly support it.

I am rising to object because a number of my [GOP] colleagues — and I don’t want to put it on them, I join with them in this — would like a little additional time to study this bill. But equally important, if not more important, many of my colleagues’ sentiment is that we should take this bill up first in the judiciary committee. I commit to the minority whip that I will join with him in trying to get our esteemed chairman [Sen. Lindsay Graham] to take this bill up.

I don’t think we ought to be afraid of this issue. I don’t think we ought to be reluctant to take difficult votes. That’s why we are here in the United States senate. And I can’t think of a subject that’s more important for this body to address than the subject of immigration, including but not limited to legal and illegal immigration. The fact of the matter is the American people deserve an immigration system that looks like somebody designed it on purpose.

But for the reasons I just expressed, Madam President, I respectfully object [to Durbin’s Unanimous Consent request].

Durbin responded to Kennedy with the Senate’s polite style:

I thank my colleague from Louisiana. We’ve worked on things together, and I hope we can continue to in the future. This is controversial, but it’s so timely and important. The hundreds of [Indian visa workers] who demonstrated against this Senator last Sunday are people I welcome into this country and will be an important part of its future. I want to find a solution to their problem, and I’m willing to work on a bipartisan basis to do it. Your help will be invaluable.

Watch the speech here.

Durbin called for the Senate to work with various outside groups to write a new version of the Gang of Eight’s 2013 cheap-labor-and-amnesty bill. But that pro-business bill proved catastrophic for Democrats, partly because it helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

 



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