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Really, the solution is so simple.  Immigrants are coveted by businesses because they can be exploited.  Make it more difficult for immigrants to be exploited, and many of the immigration problems solve themselves.

Really, the solution is so simple.  Immigrants are coveted by businesses because they can be exploited.  Make it more difficult for immigrants to be exploited, and many of the immigration problems solve themselves.

I'll explain.

Take the H1-B visa, designed for skilled, educated workers.  Currently, companies bring foreigners to this company who are educated, and then often pay them considerably less than they would have to pay a US Citizen with comparable qualifications, and the immigrant accepts the job.  Solution?  Allow H1-B visas, but require that immigrants who come on H1-B visas to be paid whatever the local median wages are for that job.  Companies are not required to pay US Citizens local median wages.  In other words, make it MORE EXPENSIVE to the employer to employ an immigrant rather than LESS EXPENSIVE.  If it is less expensive to find a US Citizen to fill the slot, then the employer has no incentive to exploit the immigrant, and the immigrant will not undercut US wages nor take a job that otherwise could have gone to a US Citizen.  

Then of course there are the visas designed for low-skill workers, the H-2A and H-2B visas.  Employers bring immigrants in to do menial work in illegal conditions - but immigrants are in a bind and don't easily have the ability to alert the authorities to employer abuses.  Once again, this is easily rectified by requiring employers to prove that the immigrants they bring in on these visas are being paid local median wages for the jobs, and that they are afforded all of the protections that are required by law for US Citizen workers.  If the government were more zealous in seeing that immigrant workers were being treated lawfully by employers (any increased costs could be borne by the employers who request the visas in the first place) then these problems would evaporate.  

In addition, anyone who comes over on one of these visas should be required to take some sort of course in their home language or in a language in which they are fluent that apprises them of their rights under their visas and under US law.  They should also be easily granted temporary legal status and the ability to work for a different employer should they "whistle-blow" on an employer who is infringing on their rights.  

The same sort of approach can be taken with undocumented immigrants already in the country.  If there is some sort of simple path to legal status that enables them to legally work, they should be afforded the same protections as any other US worker, namely minimum wage, OSHA standards, unemployment insurance, (the employer should have to pay unemployment insurance for the worker), etc.  Perhaps even a guarantee of "median wage" for these immigrants as well, which would actually encourage US Citizens to be preferred.  

This would simplify everything enormously.  Workers, no matter the nation of origin, no matter their immigration status, should have the same basic rights.  Worker exploitation is not acceptable.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  A requirement like this for H1B (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    already exists.

    'By signing the LCA, the employer attests that:
    The employer pays H-1B non-immigrants the same wage level paid to all other individuals with similar experience and qualifications for that specific employment, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of employment, whichever is higher.'

  •  Simple elegant solutions would happen (4+ / 0-)

    if bad faith wasn't such a big part of the problem of debating policy in our country. We can't discuss "finding a solution" to any part of the immigration debate without first recognizing that the system is broken on purpose. And that the problems are allowed to fester. On purpose.

    Of course there are easy common sense ideas and solutions. Simple. To the Point.

    The politics is what isn't simple. Common sense driven. To the point.

    The problem is, there are a lot of powerful people in our government and in the private sector who don't want to fix anything. They want to maintain the status quo for economic reasons and bitterly denounce the status quo for ideological reasons at the same time.

    The first thing that would happen if there was an iron-clad rule about it being more expensive to employ the following non-resident workers is... the people doing the exploiting and the people who serve the people doing the exploiting in DC would find a loophole or come up with a new catagory of low-wage but high tech serf to take advantage of.

    The people who often complain the most bitterly about undocumented persons in Congress also receive millions and millions of dollars from trade associations, mega companies, and very deep pocketed individuals who deeply desire the continuation of the low-wage status quo.

    I live in Nevada.

    Here, undocumented persons flock to construction jobs. Or, they did when Nevada was a boomstate. The same people that rant about the undocumented at Tea Party rallies on Saturday are the keynote speakers in front of KB Homes at the Homebuilder's Association of America's trade convention on Monday knowing full well that KB Homes wouldn't be KB Homes without exploiting the undocumented. It's cooked into their books in terms of their profit projections that they can save money on labor via exploitation of the undocumented.  

    I knew somebody who worked at Sun MicroSystems for fifteen years. The skilled workers visas were a joke to the suits. A joke. The powers that be would meet with Governors and Senators and Congressmen and women and say, with a straight face, that they needed more and more x, y, and zs and 1s, 2s, and 3s because "there weren't enough Americans who had the skills to do those jobs". But what they meant was, there were not enough Americans willing to do the work only for substantially less than the guy in the cubicle next to them doing the same job. And they would come back to the office and laugh their asses off about it, because they read the paper, they see the news, they can read about Americans with advanced degrees and years of experience who are out of work and could step right in and do the jobs. They just can't do them as cheaply.

    The ideal outcome for these people is... they get to rant and rave about the x, y, and z "menace" to the racist yahoos when it suits them, like when speaking at a Tea Party rally, and they get to ignore the exploitation and human suffering and misery, while advocating letting industries regulate themselves, cutting back on regulators on the job, and pretending sectors of the economy aren't baking in low-wage explotation in their financial plans like when we are speaking at trade conventions and in front of industry expos.

    Bad faith is a bigger issue than a lack of common sense or good ideas.

    I am from the Elizabeth Warren and Darcy Burner wing of the Democratic Party

    by LeftHandedMan on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 12:58:48 AM PDT

  •  This is all very well and good--and I think a good (0+ / 0-)

    idea. The problem is that in some very fundamental ways, we're not ready to deal with the consequences. I call it the Lettuce Picker theory. At the same time real jobs are disappearing and more and more Americans are forced into less-than-full-time employment and lower wage jobs (not to mention union-busting) agriculture especially still relies on workers of dubious legal status and guest workers working for low wages, sometimes below the minimum wage. If all agricultural workers were paid a fair wage, a head of lettuce would cost, say, 10 dollars instead of a couple of dollars. Are we ready to pay 10 dollars for a head of lettuce? I doubt it. What about home construction?

    The fact is that our economy, as it is today, is actually dependent upon foreign workers that can be paid low wages. Sadly, between this and ruinous trade treaties and foreign outsourcing, we're caught between the lure of cheap goods and dwindling wages and jobs that make even Walmart goods and that head of lettuce more expensive all the time even if the price stays the same.

    In order to properly address immigration and wages paid to guest workers (not to mention undocumented workers) we've got to fundamentally shift the basis of our economy. I very much doubt there is the political will to do more than window-dressing on this issue in Congress. Current policy favors business, despite the risks involved, and people really love their $1.99 head of lettuce. Besides, keeping people believing that immigrants are stealing their jobs deflects blame from being assessed to the real culprits: the outsourcers and union-busters.

    I'll eat my own union card if we see any serious and meaningful immigration reform out of this congress, or any other in the near future.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 04:20:01 AM PDT

    •  only a person who has never worked would seek (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, WorkerInUSA

      to deny his fellow citizen a fair wage.

      A living wage doesn't multiply the costs of things 500%. Memberships to the yoga club might go up a buck a month to cover the cost of a living wage for custodians. That $75 Asian fusion dinner might cost $85. A big mack would go up two cents. A house wouldn't go up at all. Houses are built to fit what people can buy.

      What you are suggesting is paying your fellow citizens as low as possible.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:58:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lettuce Picker Theory (0+ / 0-)

      I understand the sentiment, but let me carry it a tad bit further.  

      Lettuce is, actually, very easy to grow.  At least here in my garden in Phoenix, AZ, I have had two varieties happily re-seeding themselves throughout the year for several years now.  I have to pull it out of the small patch of grass I have in the backyard and today I found it crowded with a few unknown weeds in the cracks between the pavement of my driveway.  With a tiny bit of planning I could make salads most of the year from the lettuce growing in my yard (and not much of the yard is under cultivation).  

      But I don't.  Sometimes I put into the salad a little of my yard lettuce to augment lettuce from the supermarket, but that is about it.  

      Why?  Well, I didn't bother cutting it in the morning before the day heated up.  And my husband prefers (nutrition bland) iceberg lettuce.  And lettuce in the grocery store is just so CHEAP!!  

      But if lettuce in the grocery store cost $10/head so that none of us were exploiting the people who worked in the fields to cultivate it and pick husband would grumble and get over his preference for iceberg lettuce (most of the time) and I would plan my garden a little better and have copious amounts of lettuce growing almost all of the year, and pick in the morning every couple of days.  

      It's not just lettuce.  It's everything.  If we are going to stop exploiting people, these are the steps we must take.  

      It's like the people who sponsor a child in Africa, sending money and pictures and trinkets to a faraway child.  Only we are doing the reverse -- we are the inadvertent slavemasters  people who are far removed from us.  

  •  Supply and demand (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That's the point. The H-1B, L-1, J-1, O-1, F-1, B-1, and other TEMPORARY WORK VISAS (THESE ARE NOT IMMIGRATION VEHICLES) produce a huge supply of workers who will work for low wages and which displace our own children from jobs. We have thousands of US college grads who are working as barristas, who work as waitresses, who work in menial jobs that used to be done by high school dropouts. Now, H-1bs get the good jobs, while our kids work in coffee shops.

    Once upon a time, there was a kid who dropped out of college. He bummed around, and got a job at a help desk. He finally got a better job, and soon moved up. Eventually he became a big cheese. His name: Steve Jobs. The Steve Jobs of today has been displaced and cannot get a job due to the H-1B massive tidal wave.

  •  you don't get it, you don't know any illegals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    Everyone is paid the same. Everyone works the same job already. Employers don't care who you are, how you got here, what ethnicity of sexual preference you might have, they care absolutely nothing except what price they can buy you at. More people equals less money per person. More laborers than the market needs drives wages down. This has been happening for 30 years. Dumb liberals help money grubbing conservatives, been going on a long time.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 05:51:42 AM PDT

    •  Ah, the same old fixed number of jobs theory. (0+ / 0-)
      •  So you believe in (0+ / 0-)

        an infinite number of jobs. You must be a republican or an immigration attorney. In point of fact, there are only a specific number of jobs, and the H-1B, L-1, J-1, F-1, O-1, and B-1 visas are destroying our employment system.

        In point of fact, these temporary visas are one of the primary reasons the unions are in huge trouble. H-1Bs are the way capitalists like yourself destroy the labor market for workers. Flood the market with low wage low skilled workers, and no one can make a living wage, or unionize.

        •  Really? Visas are a primary reason only 7% of (0+ / 0-)

          non-government workforce belongs to the unions? Do you realize that no one in IT belongs to the unions?

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