Saturday, March 28, 2020


State Department Accelerates Foreign Workers into U.S. Jobs Despite Mass Coronavirus Unemployment

H2-B Visa Foreign Workers
Associated Press

Despite mass unemployment of Americans during the Chinese coronavirus crisis, federal agencies are accelerating the speed at which foreign workers will be imported to the United States to take blue-collar industry jobs.
This week, the federal government announced that nearly 3.3 million Americans have filed for unemployment as businesses have been forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. from Wuhan, China.
The 3,283,000 jobless Americans due to the coronavirus crisis far surpass the 1982 record of 695,000 jobless claims, and the number of unemployed is expected to continue to surge.
Despite mass unemployment, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf will fast-track foreign workers on H-2A and H-2B visas into the U.S. to take blue-collar agricultural and nonagricultural jobs.
memo released by Pompeo reads:
The H-2 program is essential to the economy and food security of the United States and is a national security priority. Therefore, we intend to continue processing H-2 cases as much as possible, as permitted by post resources and local government restrictions. Secretary Pompeo, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, has authorized consular officers to expand the categories of H-2 visa applicants whose applications can be adjudicated without an in-person interview.  Consular officers can, if they so choose, now waive the visa interview requirement for first-time and returning H-2 applicants who have no apparent ineligibility or potential ineligibility. [Emphasis added]
This expansion also increases the period in which returning workers may qualify for an interview waiver. Applicants whose previous visas expired in the last 48 months, and who did not require a waiver of ineligibility the last time they applied, do not need to be interviewed in-person if they are applying for the same visa classification as their previous visa.  We anticipate the vast majority of otherwise qualified H-2 applicants will now be adjudicated without an interview. [Emphasis added]
The directive effectively allows agricultural and nonagricultural businesses to quickly import foreign workers on H-2A and H-2B visas without standard interview and application procedures — a move that echoes President George W. Bush’s decision to waive visa requirements in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“The agriculture industry’s dependence on poorly screened, cheap foreign labor to produce our food is indefensible,” Federation for American Immigration Reform’s (FAIR) RJ Hauman told Breitbart News. “Validating it through a guest worker policy change at a time of mass unemployment and a public health crisis is an enormous mistake.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praised Pompeo’s decision to waive visa requirements in a statement, claiming the American economy hinges on foreign workers:
Temporarily waiving in-person interviews for H-2 visa applicants streamlines the application process and helps provide steady labor for the agriculture sector during this time of uncertainty. H-2 labor is vital to the economy and food security of America – our farmers and producers depend on these workers to continue to feed and clothe the world. [Emphasis added]
Officials with NumbersUSA, which represents American workers, blasted the decision by Pompeo and Wolf.
“Low-wage foreign guest workers can also come in by the tens of thousands thanks to [Chad Wolf],” NumbersUSA officials wrote on Twitter. “Will every individual be tested for coronavirus or does corporate greed trump public health?”

.@DHS_Wolf has now waived in-person interviews for H-2 (ag and seasonal non-ag) guest workers. This includes employees for landscaping, restaurant, and hotel industries. Not only does this add insult to injured American workers, it threatens public health.

The Agriculture Dept. is making it easier for employers to replace Americans with foreign guest workers amid the coronavirus crisis. This is what happens when lobbyists for the Ag industry like Kristi Boswell run policy. Americans go jobless and public health is threatened.

Last year, farm companies hired roughly 250,000 H-2A foreign workers as there is no cap on the number of H-2A workers who can be imported into the U.S. This month, Wolf approved 35,000 extra H-2B foreign workers to take nonagricultural jobs in the American economy and has refused to halt the program amid the coronavirus crisis.
Every year, U.S. companies are allowed to import 66,000 low-skilled H-2B foreign workers. For some time, the H-2B visa program has been used by businesses to bring in cheaper, foreign workers and has contributed to blue-collar Americans having their wages undercut.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.

ronavirus Exposes the Virulence of American Conservatism

Sick, sad Mitch. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Last week, the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party unveiled a plan to keep British workers paid and employed for the duration of the coronavirus crisis. The Tory proposal would effectively cover 80 percent of sidelined workers’ salaries, while forbidding employers who accept the government’s help from laying off staff. The policy closely resembles one implemented by Denmark’s Social Democrats, except that Boris Johnson’s wage-replacement rate is slightly more generous than the Danish left’s. Although the Conservatives have a well-earned reputation for sacrificing Britain’s vulnerable on the altar of deficit reduction, even they recognize that social welfare must take precedence over budgetary concerns in the context of a historically sudden and deep economic crisis. On Friday, Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that there would be no limit on the funding available for covering workers’ wages.
“We are starting a great national effort to protect jobs,” Sunak said. “We want to look back on this time and remember how in the face of a generation-defining moment we undertook a collective national effort and we stood together.”
America’s conservatives see things differently.
U.S. workers are every bit as exposed to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic side effects as their peers across the pond. Unlike their British counterparts, however, American laborers aren’t guaranteed affordable health care if they lose their jobs, nor any amount of paid sick leave should they take ill. And yet, despite our workers’ unique vulnerability to the harms of illness and unemployment, congressional Republicans are not only unwilling to support universal paid leave or make an open-ended commitment to covering 80 percent of workers’ salaries but are also fighting to protect the right of bailed-out corporations to fire as many workers as they see fit.
On Sunday, the Senate failed to reach an agreement on an already belated economic relief package, a development that’s left small-business owners and laid-off workers reeling and financial markets tumbling. The mainstream press has attributed the Senate’s inaction to “Washington infighting,” or else to Democratic intransigence. But Chuck Schumer’s caucus didn’t vote down the Republican bill over some minor detail, or because it insisted on dictating the left’s preference on an issue that genuinely divides blue and red America. Rather, the key sticking point is that the GOP bill would empower the Trump administration to dole out $500 billion in bailout money to corporations of its own choosing — without forbidding bailed-out firms from laying off their workers. This arrangement would not only allow the hotelier-in-chief to plow public money into his companies and those of his cronies but also enable those firms to spend our government’s dollars on maintaining outsize executive compensation instead of retaining employees.
Senate Democrats have other conditions they would like to attach to the corporate bailouts, and some quibbles with other sections of the existing bill. But the GOP’s insistence on subsidizing corporations that fire workers in the middle of a pandemic appears to be the Democrats’ paramount concern.

Critically, the Republican Party’s opposition to requiring bailed-out firms to retain at least 90 percent of their workers does not reflect the uniquely pro-management bent of public opinion in the U.S. The disparity between the Tory and GOP stances has approximately nothing to do with any ideological divergence between their mass constituencies.
Data for Progress, a progressive think tank, released a poll Monday gauging public support for Elizabeth Warren’s list of conditions for corporate bailouts. Many of the senator’s stipulations attracted mere plurality or only narrow majority support. But when asked whether companies that accept government aid should be required to maintain their payrolls, 74 percent of respondents said yes. The requirement was nearly as popular with GOP voters as it was among Democratic ones, with 70 percent of self-identified Republicans approving.
Photo: Data for Progress
Photo: Data for Progress
Senate Republicans have also insisted on (1) limiting an increase in unemployment benefits to three months, (2) making the bill’s cash-assistance provision a onetime payment instead of a subsidy guaranteed to recur for the duration of the crisis, and (3) capping relief funds for small business at a fraction of the level recommended by conservative economists like Glenn Hubbard and Michael Strain.
What makes Mitch McConnell’s principled stance in favor of subsidizing corporate layoffs and penny-pinching on aid to workers and small businesses most remarkable is that it runs directly counter to his party’s political interests. Donald Trump’s reelection is quite likely to hinge on whether economic growth resumes by midsummer. The bulk of the Democratic demands that McConnell is rejecting — more expansive aid to workers, consumers, state governments, and small businesses (that agree to retain their staff) — would increase the probability of a “V-shaped recovery,” and thus, of Trump renewing his lease on the White House.
Therefore, the gulf between the GOP’s response to the crisis and that of Britain’s Tories is not a product of public opinion or crass electoral concerns. Rather, it reflects the fact that the Republicans are not a normal conservative party, but a uniquely reactionary political formation. No other major party in the Western world rejects the concept of universal health care or disputes the reality of man-made climate change. The GOP is more adamantly opposed to the downward redistribution of resources, or any measure that tips the balance of power between workers and bosses in the former’s direction, than any center-right party in the developed world.
Republicans’ uniquely virulent strain of conservatism is undermining not only their response to COVID-19’s economic consequences but also to the public-health crisis itself. Even as U.S. hospitals and health-care workers are suffering from a shortage of masks and ventilators, President Trump has refused to invoke his authority under the Defense Production Act to force the mass production of those critical materials. Instead of conscripting domestic manufacturers into the figurative war on the coronavirus, the White House has attempted to arrange a voluntary consortium of firms interested in aiding with mask and ventilator production. According to the New York Times, this decision came at the behest of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Trump defended his approach Sunday on the grounds that “we’re a country not based on nationalizing our business.” Of course, invoking the DPA to temporarily commandeer a firm’s productive capacity is not tantamount to the nationalization of industry. Meanwhile, the voluntarist approach mandated by the GOP’s devotion to corporate prerogatives is not delivering the goods:
[I]t is far from clear that the effort to enlist companies like General Motors, Apple and Hanes, just a few of the firms that have promised to free up existing supplies of masks or repurpose 3-D printers to produce ventilator parts, constitutes an effective strategy.

In interviews with participants in the process, from business executives to government officials, there is still widespread confusion about how much and what exactly each firm is supposed to produce. Corporate executives say they face a bewildering number of requests from dozens of nations around the world, along with governors and mayors around the country, for scarce supplies. The White House has not said who will set the priority list for deliveries. And it is not clear that any of it will arrive in time for the cities and the states that are hit the hardest, including New York.

… By Saturday, Parkdale Mills joined Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and other companies in announcing a coalition to produce masks. But they are not the kind hospitals most need. The new masks will be made of a three-ply underwear fabric, and do not provide the level of protection given by the N95 masks that health care workers need for intubation and other procedures.
The president’s laissez-faire approach to redressing potentially lethal shortages of critical medical equipment would be alarming enough in isolation. But it is especially disconcerting when combined with Trump’s recent signals that he intends to relax his administration’s social-distancing advisories in the near-term future. If the president is going to encourage businesses to reopen and public life to resume in a manner of days, the least he could do is use every authority at his disposal to expand treatment capacity at America’s hospitals.
But the ideological hang-ups (and/or fiduciary duties) of the American conservative movement won’t let him.
For this reason, the wealthiest nation in human history appears to be on the cusp of allowing mass business failures and layoffs — and then attempting to redress those preventable economic harms by prematurely suspending social-distancing measures, thereby condemning many of its people to death by suffocation in hospital hallways.
This outcome can still be averted. Senate Republicans have evinced some capacity for subordinating their ideological convictions to political and economic necessity. And Democrats certainly have their own responsibility not to let the perfect be the enemy of the “good enough for now.” Given the urgent necessity of getting cash in the hands of beleaguered workers and businesses, if the GOP is willing to table the debate over corporate bailouts — and immediately pass a bill dispensing cash assistance to households and aid to small businesses (that commit to retaining workers) — Democrats should play ball.
But, as of this writing, McConnell is not offering such a deal. And so long as that’s the case, mainstream news outlets must not attribute the relief package’s delay to small-minded partisanship or Democratic intransigence, but rather to the Republican Party’s singular commitment to the prerogatives of plutocrats.

Trump’s DHS Starts to Import 85,000 H-1B Graduate Gig Workers

Staff at work in the Boatsetter office, a South Florida based boat-renting tech company on August 7, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. - Strategically positioned, South Florida is a growing hub for startups and tech companies where unicorns are called, at least by one of the accelator companies in the …

President Donald Trump’s deputies announced Friday that they had begun the process of importing 85,000 H-1B gig workers to take white-collar jobs that will be needed after October by the millions of American graduates who are now losing jobs in the coronavirus crash.
“This is just an unspeakable action,” said Marie Larson, a co-founder of the American Workers Coalition, which opposes the many visa worker programs that have transferred at least one million white-collar jobs to foreign workers. “I don’t believe President Trump ordered this — the swamp went ahead with this,” she said.
“If the H-1B program is just for filling jobs that Americans cannot fill amid for labor shortages, then this would not be happening,” said John Miano, a lawyer with the Immigration Law Reform Institute. “But it is not a labor-shortage program — it is a cheap labor program to displace Americans,” he said.
The 2020 lottery “is in your face that that is the purpose of the program.”
The agency announced Friday that it had received enough corporate requests to snatch up all of the 2020 supply of H-1B visas.
This annual supply includes 20,000 visas for foreigners who pay for graduate degrees at American colleges, plus 65,000 visas for graduates who are directly imported from India, China, and other countries. Non-profits — such as hospitals and universities — are allowed to also import an unlimited number of “cap-exempt” H-1Bs for white-collar jobs.
Roughly 100,000 new H-1B workers arrive each year. But they are allowed to stay for many years, so companies have gradually built up a resident workforce of roughly 900,000 H-1B workers, alongside several hundred thousand additional white-collar workers carrying L-1, OPT, CPT, E-3, B-1, TN, H4EAD documents.
The annual application and lottery process are managed by DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [USCIS] agency, which announced Friday afternoon:
USCIS has received enough electronic registrations during the initial period to reach the FY 2021 H-1B numerical allocations (H-1B cap). We randomly selected from among the registrations properly submitted. We intend to notify petitioners with selected registrations no later than March 31, 2020, that they are eligible to file an H-1B cap-subject petition for the beneficiary named in the applicable selected registration.
The work visas will not be sent to the lottery winners for several weeks after the companies submit petition packages with justifications for each visa. The deadline for submitting the petitions is June 30.
Those justifications include a so-called “Labor Condition Application” document approved by the Department of Labor. The LCAs describe the intended job for each H-1B worker. Business advocates use the LCA process to claim that imported workers do not displace Americans.
But the LCA process does not require the companies to show that Americans cannot be hired for the job. Also, the LCA documents are rubber-stamped by the department. A department spokesman told Breitbart News:
Under current law, “[t]he Secretary of Labor shall review such an [LCA] application only for completeness and obvious inaccuracies” and, unless the application is incomplete or obviously inaccurate, the Department must certify the LCA within seven days of receiving the employer’s application. [Emphasis added.]

Govt data shows 1 million Indian contract-workers get white-collar jobs in tech, banking, health etc.
The Indian hiring ignores many EEOC laws & is expanding amid gov't & media silence.
It is a huge economic & career loss for US college grads. 

Trump’s deputies now know which companies asked for 2020 visas and how many visas they won in the lottery, said Larson.
Those companies can tell Americans why they are hiring foreign workers when so many American graduates are jobless amid the coronavirus crash, she said:
We want USCIS to name the companies that have won the lottery to bring in foreign workers for American jobs. What specific specific skills do these people have that American workers supposedly do not have?
All Americans must demand that these companies make public why they need these people and why they could not hire American workers. We need the media to question each and every one of these companies to ask them why they could not hire Americans for these jobs. We need Americans to stand up during this massive unemployment — which is unprecedented even under the Great Depression and we have not hit the peak. This is a time for everyone to rise up.
It is incumbent on President Trump to ensure that he keeps his [2016] campaign promise to put American workers first. One way he can do that is to ensure the American public gets the answer it deserves on why Americans are not getting these jobs.
Trump’s failure to set curbs on the H-1B program has angered many of the swing-voting university graduates who supported him in 2016. In March 2016, after much zig-zagging, Trump declared:
The H-1B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay. I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H-1B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements. I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.
“The people surrounding President Trump don’t have his back — they are not helping him keep his campaign promise,” Larson said.
In February 2020, a U.S. judge struck down the token H-1B curbs set by USCIS managers since Trump’s election.
The current head of DHS, Chad Wolf, formerly served as a lobbyist for the NASSCOM outsourcing industry, which imports most of the H-1B gig workers. The group’s mix of Indian and U.S. companies use the H-1B program to extract salaries and wealth from the American college graduate class, and they split the gains among both countries’ executives and investors, plus the visa workers and India’s government.

The public & GOP blocked the business push in Congress to keep 100K+ visa workers in US jobs.
Next, biz asks agencies for the labor giveaway, with deceptive op-eds & earnest pleas from elite professional trade associations.
OK, so who lobbies back? 

Some of the H-1B workers are experts hired by elite software and banking companies.
But many of the H-1B visa workers are hired by Indian-run staffing companies to quickly fill open slots in a wide variety of Fortune 500 companies. For example, many of the contract jobs are in technology, accounting, health care, design, banking, finance, engineering, science, teaching, and insurance, and even in the fashion industry. The companies include Tata, Infosys, HCL, and Tech Mahindra.
The little-publicized outsourcing industry boosts investors’ stock prices by cutting salaries for millions of American graduates. It also pushes many older American professionals out of jobs and prevents millions of American graduates from getting on the first rung of their career ladders.
The H-1Bs and staffing companies are often used by American executives and hiring managers out of sheer laziness, insiders tell Breitbart News.
The gig workers provided by the staffing companies are often unskilled, unproductive, and expensive, said a former executive assistant at a banking company who helped managers replace many American professionals with Indian H-1Bs. But they are compliant because the jobs pay far more than Indian or Chinese jobs and because they hope to win green cards, she said.
American executives do not want to go to the trouble of hiring and managing independent and innovative American professionals — but do want to promise short-term cost savings during their periodic calls with Wall Street investors, she said. “It was not about [workers’] skills, not about anything else, it was about money,” she said. “They want credit for saving the company money, so they won’t look at anything that goes against the [cost saving] narrative.”
Multiple lawsuits and testimony from Americans show how the H-1B program undermines professionalism, innovation, and Americans’ careers.
The 2020 lottery was applauded by immigration lawyers who import H-1B workers for business groups.
“I’ll keep you posted on when I start seeing updates for my registrations!” an immigration lawyer told her clients. “Yes, we had a substantial increase in submissions compared to last year,” she told one questioner.
“NewsFlash! H1B Registration Cap Hit, USCIS to Post Results by March 31st,” said a post by the Murthy Law Firm, which has offices in Indian, Seattle, and Maryland.

American professionals have organized to lobby against the H-1B program via several groups, including the American Workers CoalitionU.S. TechWorkers, and ProUSworkers, and White Collar Workers of America.
The new TechsUnite.US site was created to help U.S. graduates anonymously collaborate.
In turn, these groups are backed up by a few sites that track the scale and location of the outsourcing industry in each legislator’s district. “The scope of this thing is really unbelievable,” said one researcher.
Other sites document the conflicts created by diverse foreign business practices in the United States. The non-political site also provides much information about H-1B outsourcing and green card rewards in multiple industries.

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC, or email the author at

ys Unemployment Could Rise to 30%

Photo by John Vachon/Library Of Congress/Getty Images
23 Mar 2020523
The unemployment rate in the U.S. could hit 30 percent, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said in Bloomberg News interview.
“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole,” Bullard said. “It is a huge shock and we are trying to cope with it and keep it under control.”
That would be the highest rate of unemployment since the Great Depression.
Bullard said he expects economic growth to plunge 50 percent in the second quarter but for the economy to bounce back later in the year, so long as the appropriate measures are taken by the fiscal and monetary authorities.
“I would see the third quarter as a transitional quarter,” Bullard said. The next six months, however, could be very strong. “Those quarters might be boom quarters,” he said.
Bullard also said the Fed was far from being “out of bullets,” as some Fed watchers have claimed.
“There is more that we can do if necessary,” he said. “There is probably much more in the months ahead depending on where Congress wants to go.”

Jobless Claims Soar to 3,283,000, Biggest Jump Ever

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images
 26 Mar 20203,609
Jobless claims rose to 3,283,000 last week, reflecting only the first round of mass layoffs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jobless claims are considered the closest thing we have to a real-time indicator of economic conditions, reflecting claims from the prior week. Many pieces of economic data come out with lags of a month or more, which makes it had to rely upon them when the economy experiences a sudden shock.
The three million claims surge easily tops the 1982 record of 695,000.
Claims jumped in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Nine states reporting increases of at least 100,000 from the prior week.
The largest number of claims came from Pennsylvania, with 378,900.

A New York Labor Department office in Manhattan, New York City, on March 6, 2015. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Think Tank Estimates 14 Million Jobs Lost by Summer

March 25, 2020 Updated: March 25, 2020

As policymakers and investors anxiously eye the Labor Department’s jobless claims report, due for release Thursday, a Washington-based think tank has made a dire forecast of 14 million jobs lost by summertime.
“Our best guess at this point is that the national economy could lose 14 million jobs by summer 2020,” said The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in a note that blamed the COVID-19 outbreak for the dismal figures.
“These estimates assume $1 trillion in fiscal stimulus—in other words, even with $1 trillion in stimulus, the job losses will be enormous,” the EPI wrote on March 25.
The 14-million forecast is an upwards revision over figures it published last week.
“Sadly, our predictions were likely too optimistic,” the think tank said in a report published March 25. The EPI noted that job loss estimates are “rapidly evolving, with new forecasts from different macroeconomic analysts being released on an almost daily basis.”

Bianca Medici (L), a corporate recruiter for CDM Media, speaks with job applicants during a National Career Fairs job fair in Chicago on April 22, 2015. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
EPI broke down their unemployment estimates by state. Percentage-wise, Nevada is projected to lose 14.2 percent of total private-sector employment. The state’s leisure, hospitality, and retail sectors account for over 40 percent of all private-sector jobs.
By absolute numbers of jobs lost, California is projected to have the most, at over 1.6 million. As a share of total private-sector employment, this number translates into 10.9 percent.
The think tank called for “at least $2.1 trillion in federal stimulus through 2020 to restore the country to reasonable economic health.”
Negotiators said Wednesday that U.S. senators and Trump administration officials reached an agreement on the massive economic stimulus bill.
The Senate will vote on the $2 trillion package later in the day and the House of Representatives is expected to follow suit soon after.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Wednesday the package includes checks to help Americans pay bills during job layoffs related to the outbreak, expanded unemployment insurance, and emergency loans to small businesses.

‘Astronomical Increase’

The U.S. Department of Labor figures due Thursday are expected to shatter the old record for the greatest number of new unemployment claims filed in a single week.
Some economists project that the United States could see around 3 million new unemployment insurance claims when figures are released for the week of March 15-21. That would be around 12 times as many as the previous week and would triple the all-time record of 695,000 set in 1982.
“It’s going to be an astronomical increase,” said Constance Hunter, president of the National Association for Business Economists and chief economist at the accounting firm KPMG. “We don’t have any recorded history of anything like this.”