Donald Trump, Corporate America, H1-B Visa’s, and Homelessness in America
Donald Trump signs executive order to reform H-1B visas
US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that seeks to make changes to a visa programme that brings in highly skilled workers.
The time-limited H-1B visas for skilled workers, which are sought by technology giants, are meant for scientists, engineers and computer programmers. They are an important gateway for many attracted by tech hubs across the country.
But the White House said the programme is undercutting American workers by bringing in cheaper labour and that some tech companies are using it to hire large numbers of workers and drive down wages.
Trump went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday where he signed an order dubbed “Buy American, Hire American”, ordering the Labour, Justice and Homeland Security Departments to propose reforms to the visa programme to prevent immigration fraud and abuse.
“We are sending a powerful signal to the world that we are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first,” Trump said just before signing the order on a visit to a local
“Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that’s wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans.”
2016’s Shocking Homelessness Statistics
- 564,708 people in the U.S. are homeless. According to a recent report, over half a million people were living on the streets, in cars, in homeless shelters, or in subsidized transitional housing during a one-night national survey last January. Of that number, 206,286 were people in families, 358,422 were individuals, and a quarter of the entire group were children.
- 83,170 individuals, or 15% of the homeless population, are considered “chronically homeless.” Chronic homelessness is defined as an individual who has a disability and has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or and individual who has a disability and has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years (must be a cumulative of 12 months). Families with at least one adult member who meets that description are also considered chronically homeless.As the National Alliance to End Homelessness explains, “While people experiencing chronic homelessness make up a small number of the overall homeless population, they are among the most vulnerable. They tend to have high rates of behavioral health problems, including severe mental illness and substance use disorders; conditions that may be exacerbated by physical illness, injury, or trauma.”
- 47,725, or about 8% of the homeless population, are veterans. This represents a 35% decrease since 2009. Homeless veterans have served in several different conflicts from WWII to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Washington, D.C., has the highest rate of veteran homelessness in the nation (145.8 homeless veterans per 10,000). 45% of homeless veterans are black or Hispanic. While less than 10% of homeless veterans are women, that number is rising.
- 1.4 million veterans are at risk of homelessness. This may be due to poverty, overcrowding in government housing, and lack of support networks. Research indicates that those who served in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness. War-related disabilities or disorders often contribute to veteran homelessness, including physical disabilities, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression and anxiety, and addiction.
- 550,000 unaccompanied, single youth and young adults under the age of 24 experience a homelessness episode of longer than one week. Approximately 380,000 of that total are under the age of 18. Accurately counting homeless children and youth is particularly difficult. The National Alliance to End Homelessness explains, “Homeless youth are less likely to spend time in the same places as homeless people who are in an older age range. They are often less willing to disclose that they’re experiencing homelessness or may not even identify as homeless. They also may work harder to try to blend in with peers who aren’t homeless.”
- 110,000 LGBTQ youth in the U.S. are homeless. This is one of the most vulnerable homeless populations. A substantial number of young people who identify as LGBTQ say that they live in a community that is not accepting of LGBTQ people. In fact, LGBTQ youths make up 20% of runaway kids across the country. Family rejection, abuse, and neglect are major reasons LGBTQ youth end up on the streets. Additionally, homeless LGBTQ youth are substantially more likely than heterosexual homeless youth to be victims of sexual assault and abuse. LGBTQ homeless youth are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to heterosexual homeless youth.
- Fifty percent of the homeless population is over the age of 50. These individuals often face additional health and safety risks associated with age. They are more prone to injuries from falls, and may suffer from cognitive impairment, vision or hearing loss, major depression, and chronic conditions like diabetes and arthritis.
- 830,120 year-round beds are available in a range of housing projects. About half of those beds are dedicated to people currently experiencing homelessness. This includes
A top Indian executive has finally admitted that President Trump is bad news for the nation’s vast tech industry.
Vineet Nayyar, the vice chairman of major Indian outsourcing firm Tech Mahindra, said Trump’s “radical shift” on U.S. visa policies could damage India’s $150 billion technology sector.
“Trump’s America First agenda and focus on curbing the immigration, especially around H-1B visa policies, will hurt,” Nayyar said, according to a transcript of a company earnings call.
Trump has criticized the popular work visa, saying it is abused by tech firms that bring in cheap labor from overseas to replace tech workers. Last month, he signed an executive order demanding an overhaul of the H-1B program to ensure visas go to the “highest paid” applicants.
Those restrictions would make it harder and more expensive for Indian professionals — who account for 70% of all H-1B visas — to apply and receive them, Nayyar said.
Publicly at least, Indian tech leaders have tried to downplay the impact proposed changes in U.S. policy will have, arguing that America will still need skilled foreign workers because it doesn’t have enough of its own.
Some have said it could even work to India’s advantage.
Nayyar said immigration curbs need not be a “major setback,” but he made clear Indian companies — who together employ nearly 4 million people in the sector — must quickly adapt to the anti-immigration stance some countries are adopting.
“We all will have to realign our business models to the new reality,” he said.
Tech Mahindra is one of India’s global players in the industry. Other big names include Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys.
Silicon Valley’s Indian Community Pushes to Reform H1B Visa Program
“It’s modern-day slavery, more or less,” Conda says.
Conda concedes that’s a bit of an overstatement. But he says it should be easier for H1B workers to become permanent residents so that they have more power in the workplace. He is writing to legislators and organizing with other foreign workers who he says are overlooked by politicians.
“None of the H1Bs are voters,” Conda says. “We’re hardly heard because we don’t matter at this point.”
One of the biggest advocates in the Indian community for overhauling the H1B visa is not a worker, but a tech businessman — Neeraj Gupta.
Like Conda, Gupta was also on an H1B once. He says worker abuse is the result of a bigger problem: The visa is no longer being used just to get top talent, but instead to outsource jobs.
“As you delve deeper into the data,” Gupta says, “it’s quite clear that a large majority of the use of the program is directed toward the outsourcing industry.”
Here is how the outsourcing works: Gupta says about 80 percent of H1B visas go to low-level IT workers at contracting companies you have probably never heard of, firms like Wipro and Infosys. This makes it harder for higher-skilled workers like Avinash Conda to win the H1B lottery.
Meanwhile, Gupta says American businesses lay off employees and hand over the work to IT contractors. Last year, Disney and Southern California Edison were in the news for replacing long-term employees with H1Bs.
Gupta saw the tactic in action as an executive for a big outsourcing firm.
“I remember sitting in Washington, D.C., in 2008 with a proposal that was going to outsource 300 jobs,” he says.
The tech industry has lobbied aggressively for more H1Bs, saying there is not enough talent in the United States to fill jobs. Gupta doesn’t buy it. The outsourcing made him so queasy he founded his own IT staffing company, one that “in-sourced” — hired Americans and immigrants who had put down roots here.
“I believe there is an underutilized workforce here in the U.S.,” Gupta says, “Kids who could get much more meaningful jobs in the technology industry.”
Gupta has testified before Congress, where reform efforts have failed again and again.
Mexico is now the seventh largest auto manufacturer in the world. But did that growth come at the expense of U.S. auto workers? Or is something else the real reason? Like 44 free trade agreements, perhaps?
India has three qualities that attract American companies. First, the labor force already speaks English. Second, its universities are among the highest-ranked in the world. Third, its legal system is similar to the United States, since both are rooted in the British system.
China is the world’s largest exporter. But a lot of China’s so-called “exports” are really for American companies. A lot of U.S. companies ship raw materials over, and the final goods are shipped back. One reason is that U.S. companies can only afford to sell products to China’s 1.37 billion people if they manufacture there.
Perhaps the United States should do the same thing. Imagine if all our imported products were partly manufactured in America? Other foreign companies should be required to follow the lead of Japanese auto makers, who already do this. Of course, if the United States did that, it would mean higher prices for consumers. That’s because U.S. workers need a higher salary to pay for the better standard of living.