The H-1B visa debate: Pain and the politics

Sen. Sessions: Companies 'want more profits and lower pay for workers. That’s just what they do.’

This week's hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the H-1B visa program offered a compendium of thought, insight and friction.

Based on reporting from that hearing, official testimony and information from other sources, here is a look at some of the emotion and analysis around the controversial issue.

This report begins in the hurricane's eye, at Southern California Edison (SCE), which has cut some 500 IT workers and replaced them with H-1B workers hired by offshore contractors. In many cases, Edison workers had to train their replacements.

At the Senate

The Judiciary Committee wanted a recently displaced worker to testify, but doing so could mean lawsuits for the workers because of severance agreements. Even so, the committee heard from SCE workers privately and collected written comments from them. It then released some of their statements.

Here's is an excerpt of the first one:

"I am an IT professional and worked for Southern California Edison for over two decades. I was a loyal employee and always received outstanding reviews. A foreign worker with [an] H-1B visa recently replaced me....

"I am the sole provider of my children. Due to a disability, finding employment at the same wage and with a work modification will be very difficult.... It is an ominous possibility that in 5 years or less, I may have no assets, suffer from severe pain and will need to go on full disability with a catastrophic decrease in income. The loss of my job may rob me of a secure retirement.

"My layoff has made my children fearful of their future and the security of their home. If I stay in the IT field, I run a high risk of again being replaced by a foreign worker.

"It's a farce teaching our kids STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] when the government is permitting U.S. companies to abuse the H-1B visa program, which allows foreigners to take these future jobs from them. My young son already knows two computer-programming languages. He now has firsthand knowledge of the H-1B visa abuse and may choose not to use his natural gift and work in the IT field...."

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