By John Binder
The number of American jobs outsourced to foreign visa workers each year has exploded in recent decades to more than half a million, federal data suggests.
The Immigration Act of 1990, signed by then-President George H.W. Bush, greatly expanded the number of visa programs and created today’s business model where employers import foreign visa workers in droves to take American jobs in blue-collar and white-collar industries.
Federal data from the State Department shows that in 2021, almost 550,000 foreign visa workers were allowed to enter the United States labor market to take American jobs. Most of those half a million foreign visa workers, almost 470,000, arrived on the H1-B, H-4, H2-A, and H2-B visas.
This figure does not include large portions of the foreign visa worker population who are in the U.S. waiting to secure green cards. The federal government refuses to track the total foreign visa worker population. The figure also does not include the millions of foreign nationals who are in the U.S. on work permits and the roughly eight million illegal aliens holding American jobs today.
In 2021, alone, nearly 118,000 foreign visa workers arrived in the U.S. with their spouses and children on the H-1B and H-4 visas. The H-1B visa allows Fortune 500 corporations to fire their American employees and replace them with H-1B visa workers mostly in the STEM professions.
“Thousands of skilled migrants with H-1B visas working as subcontractors at well-known corporations like Disney, FedEx, Google, and others appear to have been underpaid by at least $95 million,” Economic Policy Institute (EPI) researchers revealed of the program last year.
The large-scale white-collar importation scheme comes even as millions of Americans with degrees and qualifications for STEM jobs are not employed in STEM professions.
In 2021, the Census Bureau found that “among the 50 million employed college graduates ages 25 to 64 in 2019, 37 percent reported a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering but only 14 percent worked in a STEM occupation.”
The Census Bureau data shows that in effect, less than 3-in-10 STEM-educated Americans hold jobs in the STEM fields.
Meanwhile, in the blue-collar industries, more than 308,000 foreign visa workers were imported by the federal government to take agricultural and nonagricultural American jobs in 2021 on the H-2A and H-2B visas.
The H-2B visa program, notably, has been widely used by businesses to drag down the wages of American workers in landscaping, conservation work, the meatpacking industry, the construction industry, and fishing jobs, a 2019 study from the Center for Immigration Studies found.
When comparing the wages of H-2B foreign workers to the national wage average for each blue-collar industry, about 21 out of 25 of the industries offered lower wages to foreign workers than Americans. In the construction industry, wage suppression is significant, with H-2B foreign workers being offered more than 20 percent less than their American counterparts.
In the fishing industry, foreign workers were offered more than 30 percent less for their jobs than Americans in the field. In the meatpacking industry, foreign workers get 23 percent less pay than Americans.
Most recently, EPI researchers found that about $1.8 billion in wages have been stolen by H-2B employers from 2000 to 2021.
For the H-2A visa, research has shown that the program serves as a wage-cutting maneuver for U.S. farms. In 2020, foreign H-2A visa workers were paid, on average, just $13.68 an hour while other workers with only a high school degree earned more than $20 an hour.
The massive annual waves of legal immigration is set amidst the backdrop of unemployed Americans who want full-time jobs with high wages and competitive benefits.
In August, there were six million unemployed Americans. Another 5.5 million Americans are out of the labor force altogether and 4.1 million Americans are working part-time but want full-time employment.