Why Employers Hire Foreign Workers : It’s Not Because of a Labor Shortage

This week’s bulletin comes from the highly-respected Center for Immigration Studies, an immigration reform group in Washington, D.C.


Why Employers Hire Foreign Workers : It’s Not Because of a Labor Shortage

WASHINGTON, DC (August 12, 2013) ­ The Center for Immigration Studies has published a new backgrounder, “Motivation for Hiring Alien Workers? Hint: It’s Not a Labor Shortage”, analyzing the reasons behind the employer push for a massive increase in temporary foreign worker admissions.

The new analysis finds that temporary alien workers are attractive to employers not only because of below-market wages but also because they are indentured by their terms of admission to the United States. Further, these workers are recruited from relatively docile, authority-fearing Third World populations and are thus can be easier to manage than Americans. Finally these programs allow the employer to avoid the nation’s age discrimination laws and to hire a disproportionately young work force from overseas.

The backgrounder’s author and a Fellow at the Center, David North, comments, “Politicians and advocates for mass immigration were successful in having an enormous increase in foreign worker programs like the H1-B inserted in the Senate bill (S. 744) by citing a labor shortage and the need for the ‘best and the brightest.’ However, a shortage only exists because employers are not willing to increase wages. It is clearly in their best interest, as opposed to the best interest of the American worker or the economy, to instead get Congress to adjust and expand the work force.”

View the paper at: http://cis.org/labor-shortage-not-reason-employers-want-alien-workers.

North also discusses a rarely mentioned policy problem, ethnocentric hiring practices. An H1-B visa employer is not required to adhere to equal employment opportunity laws when hiring overseas, allowing him, if he so chooses, to hire from only one ethnic group or country. But the problem is bigger than just a few small operations; there are entire industries engaging in such practices. The backgrounder cites two specific examples, the outsourcing firms in the computer and IT-related fields, generally, and one set of tax-supported and charter schools, specifically.

Before laying out the motivation for employers to seek increased foreign workers, Mr. North debunks the idea that the United States has a labor shortage or lacks access to the necessary best and the brightest workers. According to the backgrounder, rather than targeting the programs to the limited number of unique situations, “these systems impose both serious displacement and wage-depression impacts on the U.S. labor market.”
View a new CIS series analyzing the House of Representatives bill, H.R. 2278, at: http://cis.org/SAFE-Act
View the Senate bill, CIS Senate testimony and commentary at: http://cis.org/Border-Security-Economic-Opportunity-Immigration-Modernization-Act

Contact: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8185, mrt@cis.org