New Bill A Specter Over Tech Jobs

    March 16, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2006 submitted by Senator Arlen Specter will be the “final nail in the coffin” for US technology job seekers, with plenty of loopholes for employers to exploit while hiring foreign-born workers at lower wages.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be coders. Steer them to be pharmacists or investment bankers instead. If provisions of CORA play out in the manner foreseen by longtime H1-B/outsourcing observer Dr. Norm Matloff of UC-Davis, very few US-born computer science graduates with degrees higher than an Associate’s stand a chance of finding a job in their field.

Dr. Matloff recently emailed a review of the CORA legislation by immigration attorney Greg Siskind to recipients of Matloff’s newsletter on job issues. The outlook for employment in the field for US citizens who are permanent residents doesn’t look very good in his estimation:

To describe the effect the bill would have on American techies, let’s put it this way: The phrase, “final nail on the coffin” immediately comes to mind.

The final nail may be better known as H-2C, Specter’s name for the general guest worker program. Over a year ago, Dr. Matloff predicted how this legislation would impact native-born tech workers:

Sure, the program structure could include a provision saying something like, “Not for jobs normally requiring a Bachelor’s degree,” but so what? The employers would suddenly decide that many programming and engineering jobs don’t need a Bachelor’s. If it weren’t so sad, it would be comical to watch, say, Sun Microsystems, use this new program to hire sub-Bachelor’s workers for the same jobs that Sun is now insisting require a Bachelor’s degree (the requirement for H-1B).

Fourteen months later, Dr. Matloff points out the accuracy of the prediction:

Sure enough, it turns out that the only restriction Specter’s H-2C has on job type is that the job not be covered by H-1B (and a couple of other ingredients in the nonimmigrant visa alphabet soup). Well, as I mentioned last year, the only requirement H-1B has is that the job requires a Bachelor’s degree.

Again, the future is not bright for the prospective computer science student. As many high school students shy away from the profession in favor of ones with the potential for, well, employment, the ones who have not should consider this passage from Dr. Matloff, where foreign-born students with every intention of staying in the US after receiving a degree will have Specter’s legislation on their side when job hunting:

Now here is a real shocker:

* Section 409 waives the labor certification recruitment requirement for those with advanced degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering or math from American universities.

As I’ve said before, the current labor certification process is riddled with loopholes. As I’ve pointed out countless times, immigration attorney Joel Stewart has said, “Employers who favor aliens have an arsenal of legal means to reject all U.S. workers who apply” (“Legal Rejection of U.S. Workers,” Immigration Daily, April 24, 2000; available at,0424-Stewart.shtm). Yet, to do away with the labor certification process entirely, as this provision of the Specter bill would do, is simply outrageous.

And it would create its own demand, of students abroad who would say, “Hey, it’s that easy?”

(Note: a link to Dr. Matloff’s full article should be available at the archive of his mailings soon; it was not available at press time.)
UPDATE!: Here is the link to Dr. Matloff’s letter as referenced in this story.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.