The newly molted Republican majority resumed its hard work for the people yesterday. Though which people that is remains an issue resolutely obscured. As both polls and intuition would lead one to surmise, those conservatives who recently rioted in the voting booth did so out of despair at our parsimonious immigration policies. That’s why we now have the largest Republican majority in a lifetime: the people demanded more immigrants. And in the 114th Congress they have found a receptive ear.
On Tuesday, three Republican Senators joined three Democrats to introduce legislation that would expand the number of guest-workers for the tech industry even though there is a surplus of American high-tech workers.
The Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) bill, introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would also enable companies to hire an unlimited number of workers with advanced degrees from U.S. institutions in science, technology, engineering and math, which critics have said would turn some universities into diploma factories for foreign students. Currently, the first 20,000 H-1B applications for those with advanced STEM degrees are exempted.
Hatch said he hoped the bill could be a gateway to “more progress” on a broader immigration bill.
Well, it’s certainly a relief to learn that this proposal won’t be a terminal event. But rather only a starting block for additional “progress” (yes, I think that is the term upon which we shall alight). Further kudos for that snappy name: “I-squared.” It seems purposefully intended as redolent of some popular line of contrivances, though which exactly doesn’t come to mind. And as the I-Squared initiative is mere prelude, we can already anticipate future models in the product line. Specifically I’m thinking of the “P-Squared” model, which appears to be the intermediate target for those who intend to reside far away from its results. P, of course, referring to Population Squared, which should place America at a bustling 1.024e+17 souls sometime around mid-century. A time at which the Justice Department(sic) will be exceedingly busy defending the civil rights of America’s 99.997% diverse population.
“I’m calling on everyone — the President, members of both parties, and stakeholders in the tech community – to support this bill and help make it the first step towards real immigration reform,” he said in a statement. “We must find make concrete progress to solve some of the many critical problems facing our nation. I-Squared is an obvious solution to an undeniable need, and I want to work with everyone to get it done now.”
I wonder if the senator would consider native STEM workers to be holding stakes in the tech community? If so, I’d like to hear their consensus on the “obvious solutions” and “undeniable needs” of feeding their families. In this regard, the I and P Squared solutions appear wanting. Or perhaps like so many of their deceased countrymen, American STEMs are just of the wrong race at the wrong S/MIME.
In addition to increasing the annual cap on H-1B visas from 65,000 to 115,000, the bill would reform student visas, “authorize employment for the dependent spouses of H-1B visas holders, and allow a grace period for foreign workers to “change jobs and not be out of status.” It would also, among other things, allow for the recapturing of green cards “that were approved by Congress in previous years but were not used” and dependents of employment-based immigrant visa recipients, U.S. STEM advance degree holders, “persons with extraordinary ability,” and “outstanding professors and researchers” would be exempt from cap on green cards.
House Republican leaders are expected to introduce similar legislation.
The Republican Party would like to take this opportunity to thank its constituents for their support in the recent elections. As an expression of gratitude, we intend to import persons with extraordinary ability and outstanding professors and researchers. We think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised at how many we’ve been able to locate.
But as Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) noted in his immigration roadmap for the new Republican Congress, “a stunning 3 in 4 Americans with a STEM degree do not hold a job in a STEM field—that’s a pool of more than 11 million Americans with STEM qualifications who lack STEM employment.” In a chapter titled, “The Silicon Valley STEM Hoax,” Sessions cites Rutgers public policy professor Hal Salzman, who has calculated that 100% of new hires in the tech industry could be guest workers if Congress continues to increase the number of H-1B visas, which would hold “down wages for both them and new hires.”
Sessions also informed lawmakers that the “true number of guest workers admitted to the U.S. each year solely for the purpose of filling coveted jobs in the IT and STEM fields is actually much larger than news reports would suggest” because there are ways to get around the caps. For instance, since employers “receive an exemption when they hire a new worker who was previously employed by a capped employer” in addition to other factors like “overlapping admissions,” there were about about 263,000 H-1B visas approved in fiscal year 2012. Analysts have estimated that there are 650,000 to 750,000 guest workers with H-1B visas and, as Sessions pointed out, employers have other ways to bring in more foreign workers—like using the L-1 visa program that “allows employers to transfer employees from abroad to fill jobs domestically. The stock of L-1 workers is estimated to be around 350,000.”
“It is understandable why these corporations push for legislation that will flood the labor market and keep pay low; what is not understandable is why we would ever consider advancing legislation that provides jobs for the citizens of other countries at the expense of our own,” Sessions wrote to lawmakers. “Who do we work for?”
God bless Jeff Sessions. And no one should feel compelled to remind me of his imperfections. When there’s only one gift horse athwart a termite mound, you don’t look it in the mouth. And to answer his concluding query…your colleagues work for their plutocratic donors. That’s all.
And while it is sublimely gratifying to disparage our amoral Washington detritivores, the reaction is only visceral without recognition of the political calculus motivating it. The perpetual modern campaign requires money. Awesome torrents of it. A congressman begins his season of solicitation the day after swearing in. And remains in permanent political estrus thereafter. For he understands that politicians who suffer fund raising deficits are soon what we call “lobbyists,” “consultants,” or “reality TV stars.”
The reason money is everything to a politician is because advertising is expensive. It is expensive from high demand. And there is high demand for advertising because it absolutely works. Contra cogent analysis of political positions, and their alignment with personal interests, most votes are cultivated through base demagoguery or glossy sentimentality. Much like sales of cuisinarts. Over $180 billion was spent in the US on advertising last year. Do we imagine that is because corporate chieftains are being eternally snowed by Madison Avenue gladhanders?
Like their corporate supervisors, politicians understand the power of propaganda and have adjusted strategy accordingly. They cease serving their constituents (an activity which, after all, only bears a mild correlation to vote acquisition), and pursue instead the funds required to simply manipulate the public into voting as desired. Population Squared is the entirely predictable result. Those with the wherewithal to finance campaigns see their interests addressed. Those who respond to that advertising become fodder. So it is and ever shall be.
As a function of our capacity to learn, human psyches are highly malleable. It’s given us civilization…and perhaps ultimately its end. Unfortunately we’re equally capable of learning maladaptively. And because this is true people are just as easily induced by advertising to vote themselves into oblivion as they are to needlessly purchase branded consumer goods. The fact is that most people can be flimflammed out of their own skin.
Politicians comprehend this fully. Success will mean we do as well.