H1B visa 'victims' lash out on CBS 60 Minutes Sunday primetime

H1B visas are on top of the rundown Sunday primetime March 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on the one of American telly’s greatest shows CBS 60 minutes. Headlined ‘You’re fired’, this show features the H1B bill’s original author saying he’s “outraged” at the way the visa is being “hijacked” to lower labour costs.

Representational photo. AP

Representational photo. AP

The show is being featured prominently on TV listings in the US and this comes soon after Trump’s visit to Detroit where he ratcheted up his campaign cry of America First to wild applause.

“You’ve heard me say the words, and I’ll repeat them, right now:  Buy American and Hire American. It’s not just a motto, it’s a pledge.  It’s a pledge to the working people of this country.  The era of economic surrender for the United States is over -- it's over,” Trump said at Michigan earlier this week.

Here’s how the CBS digital site is pitching the story in the run up to the first telecast on Sunday night: “Originally intended to help fill gaps in the high-tech workforce with highly skilled employees in situations where there aren’t enough Americans, the congressional framers of H-1B promised to protect U.S. jobs. Yet today, nearly every Silicon Valley tech company has brought in foreigners on H-1B visas and argue they can still use more because there are not enough Americans to fill those jobs. Morrison is mad. “There are a lot of qualified American workers, but companies will do better financially if they hire the foreigner worker,” he tells Whitaker.  “I’m outraged. The H-1B has been hijacked as the main highway to bring people from abroad and displace American workers.”

"One loophole H-1B companies are taking advantage of allows them to outsource jobs without even looking for Americans, if those jobs pay approximately $60,000 or higher.  Many hi-tech jobs typically pay double that.  Saving money on labor was never the bill’s intent.  Says Morrison, “It’s really a travesty that should never have been allowed to happen.”

Never in the last 10 years have H1B visas got so much play in print and electronic media and in such detail. What’s happening to the explainers around H1B visas is not very different from what Trump is trying to do with Obamacare. By opening up the White House home page for “victims” of Obamacare to vent their anger, Trump is saying that the redistributive economics of the Obama government has not worked. Now with H1B visa “victims” speaking out on CBS 60 Minutes, H1B is going to stay in the headlines this summer.

Unlike Trump’s travel ban that keeps bouncing in the courts, the H1B curbs are being handled very differently and across multiple arms of government. Rather than an executive order, specific actions by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services have already tightened the screws on H1B workers and their families in the last month alone. Premium processing has gone out the window, H1B workers spouses' employment authorization is getting tougher, H1B refusals on the grounds of "insufficient paperwork" have spiked and generally, H1B workers are scared to travel because the risks have never been greater.

Meanwhile, Trump businesses, like Trump National Golf Club and Trump Model Management, have received permission to bring in more than two dozen foreign employees on H-1B visas since 2011, according to Department of Labor data.

Trump himself seems to be searching for middle ground but just the hint of resistance from the President's team - especially Stephen Bannon, was enough, it turns out. While the President is reportedly not against the visa (his wife Melania Trump entered the USA on an H1B), that his predominantly white male vote bank is against the visa is a more powerful political reason for Trump to indulge in benign neglect of the backlash.

60 Minutes on the CBS television network debuted in 1968 and among other honours, it’s been called "one of the most esteemed news magazines on American television” by The New York Times. 60 Minutes has consistently ranked among America’s 50 great television prime time shows.

Twitter | @byniknat

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Mar 19, 2017 06:39:49 IST

Also See