On March 19, “60 Minutes” featured a segment about a legal loophole with H-1B visas costing Americans jobs. The segment featured an interview with former Rep. Bruce Morrison (D-CT), who served in the House of Representatives from 1983-1991.
Morrison helped author the Immigration Act of 1990, which increased the number of foreign STEM workers eligible for H-1B visas. The idea was to help companies compete better, by hiring the best and brightest the world had to offer.
Are H-1B Visas Being “Hijacked” to Lower Labor Costs? – CBS News
But in the segment, Morrison spoke candidly about the current state of H-1B. “I’m outraged,” he told reporter Bill Whittaker. “The H-1B has been hijacked as the main highway to bring people from abroad and displace American workers.”
The segment highlighted the loophole which allows companies to hire H-1Bs without first searching domestically, as long as the job pays $60,000/year or more. Saving money on wages through loopholes, Morrison says, was never the bill’s intent. “It’s really a travesty that should never have been allowed to happen.”
Whoa! That’s quite a statement coming from someone who authored the bill that started the whole thing.
After this episode aired, H-1B reform groups heralded Morrison on their blogs & social media, as a high-profile supporter of their cause.
We wondered… What happened to change Morrison’s mind?
Morrison’s Change of Heart—and Career
A seasoned immigration lawyer, Morrison founded the Morrison Public Affairs Group in 2001 in Bethesda, MD. For over 15 years, Morrison has been a lobbyist in Washington DC for clients with interests in immigration and immigration reform.
As a lobbyist, Morrison earns an average of $700,000 annually.
Much of Morrison’s lobbying effort revolves around reforming the green card process. Making it easier for STEM students/workers to receive citizenship, specifically. Morrison calls on lawmakers to eliminate per-country limits on employment-based visas—he believes that the biggest talent pools come from the biggest countries in the world (India and China).
The way Morrison sees it, the U.S. should attract talented innovators regardless of their home country. “Create incentives for employers to petition for green cards at the beginning of the employment of skilled foreign-born employees, rather than keeping them in temporary status for most of a decade,” he said in 2013 Congressional testimony.
Several of Morrison’s clients are involved in EB-5. This is the path to citizenship for anyone investing foreign funds into American businesses and jobs. One of Morrison’s clients, the U.S. Immigration Fund, helps foreign investors acquire green cards when they invest in U.S. Immigration Fund projects. They want Morrison to help them streamline the process. Another, IEEE-USA, also backs H-1B reform to simplify the citizenship process for STEM students.
To summarize, Morrison’s idea of the “best American job market” begins by permanently placing more foreign-born workers into an already crowded U.S. workforce.
Morrison’s efforts to lobby for more permanent STEM workers may still result in lower salaries, higher competition for STEM jobs, and more American workers replaced.
Does Morrison’s Outrage Come with a Price Tag?
So, is Morrison’s public reaction to the H-1B loophole a true reaction of someone who has dedicated their life to public service and immigration law? Or is it simply hyperbole spoken on behalf of those who pay him?
If a group paid Morrison $700,000 each year to lobby for removing H-1B limits, would he publicly promote the “loophole” as something strengthening America?
It’s quite possible that what Morrison said on “60 Minutes” was what he truly believes and is, in fact, the very thing he devoted his life to changing.
For many Americans, the job title ‘lobbyist’ doesn’t instill trust. It connotes backdoor meetings and discussions about smoking’s medicinal benefits or how dumping chemicals into rivers helps fish grow hair. A lobbyist is someone paid to argue for policy. Separating the lobbyist’s paid argument from their personal beliefs is difficult at best.
Sincere Opposition, or Worker-Importing Mouthpiece? You Decide.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe former Rep. Morrison is sincere in his concern for the American worker? Or is he just getting paid handsomely to act in the interests of others, regardless of his own opinion?