When you hear the phrase, "human trafficking," you typically think of people shipped to other countries for forced labor or sexual exploitation. H-1B visa abuse has become a white-collar version of human trafficking.
We've pointed out the Indian IT industry gaming the H-1B application process in the past. They do something similar to the workers they send to the U.S. Specifically, they treat H-1B workers like chattel…tools to line their own pockets and nothing more.
How H-1B Practices Compare to Human Trafficking
Thanks to several bloggers and journalists, we know more about how foreign workers here on H-1B visas are treated.
Human Trafficking – Information Technology’s Dirty Little Secret [Interesting Authors Blog]
Is California a Modern Day Jim Crow State? [Logikal Blog]
Infosys to pay $34M fine to settle visa fraud charges, Justice Dept. to announce [CBS News]
These and other stories document what H-1B workers deal with while here:
- Incomplete or missing visa documentation. The visa abusers rush applications so fast & so often, we have many foreign workers here illegally, risking arrest & deportation.
- Lack of freedom. Many foreign workers took out loans to travel to the U.S. and enter visa programs. As a result, they're in debt to their employer, and can't return home without their permission.
- Inability to leave the job. U.S. corporations or the major foreign consultancies (Tata, Infosys) hold the H-1B visas. This ties the foreign worker to them, preventing them from changing jobs.
- Low pay/pay out of step with the market. In many cases, big corporations replace American workers with foreign workers to save money. Problem is, these workers can't always survive in the Bay Area housing market on those lower wages, so they end up living in overcrowded apartments.
- Agreements not honored. Foreign workers are told they have to 'work off' the debts they incurred getting to the U.S. Yet they somehow never manage to pay those debts off...
We've proved over & over H-1B abuse hurts U.S. workers. Now we can say that it hurts the H-1B foreign-born workers too.
The solution? Better regulation of the entire foreign worker visa program. Fewer H-1B visas. Hiring American IT workers first.
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