All of those “America First” and “I love Trump” ads don’t appear to match what our junior senator — up for reelection next year — is saying and doing in DC:
GOP Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is championing legislation to reward Indian workers who take jobs sought by American college graduates.
Tillis’s support for outsourcing jobs to India comes just three months after Walmart said it would use foreign workers to replace 569 Americans in his home state city of Charlotte, NC.
Tillis championed Sen. Mike Lee’s S.386 bill — which would give many more green cards to India’s contract workers — while he blocked the passage of Sen. Dick Durbin’s RELIEF Act giveaway to India’s workers:
The concern that I have with the RELIEF Act is that, first off, it could lay the groundwork for a significant increase in legal immigration … There’s another bill moving through the Senate right now … I believe that [Lee’s bill] has a very narrowly focused effort to address a lot of the concerns that Senator Durbin has but I do not believe that Senator Durbin has the support of the Senate to take this through regular order at this point, let alone through unanimous consent.
The rival Lee and Durbin bills would remove the so-called “country cap” on the annual award of green cards to foreign nationals. Under that law, the roughly 800,000 Indian workers in the United States can get about 10,000 green cards each year. The disparity means that roughly 300,000 of India’s contract workers are working while waiting for green cards. The cards were promised as a reward by their employers in exchange for the workers accepting low wages to take Americans’ jobs.
Lee’s bill would allow 50,000 Indian workers to get green cards and citizenship each year. Durbin’s bill would allow roughly 100,000 Indian workers to get green cards and citizenship each year. Both bills also raise the number of green cards that can be given to the workers’ Indian families.
But the removal of the “country caps” would encourage many more Indians to take Americans’ jobs over the next ten years.
Under existing law, Indians can easily take Americans jobs by first getting “Optional Practical Training” work permits from U.S. colleges and universities. The OPT jobs also allow them to compete for slots in the H-1B visa program, which acts as an on-ramp to citizenship.
But only about 50,000 Indians are now enrolled in the OPT program because the multi-year pipeline to citizenship is blocked by the 300,000 Indians who are trying to squeeze through the 10,000-per-year country cap rule.
Tillis backed Lee’s bill on Wednesday, one day after immigration allowed Democrats to gain full control of Virginia’s state government.
The GOP first took the state’s Senate in 1996 and then the state House in 2000, after more than 100 years of post-Civil war Democratic dominance. Since then, the state’s population of immigrants has risen rapidly, so delivering the state legislature back under Democratic control on November 5, 2019.
North Carolina is following the same trend because immigration and outsourcing are adding more Democratic voters to the state’s rolls.
In his November 6 Senate speech, Tillis claimed there is a national shortage of skilled American workers. But he also urged Durbin to back Lee’s S.386 Act because of GOP concerns about the increased immigration ensured Durbin’s RELIEF Act. The Lee bill, he said:
has 35 co-sponsors – 15 of them Democrats, including Senator [Kamala] Harris from California and Senator [Tammy] Duckworth, the junior senator from Illinois …
I hope that Senator Durbin and others who recognize that the high skilled workers in this country, we do have a shortage, we do need to fix a number of problems, but I don’t think it can be fixed with the [Durbin] RELIEF Act. I encourage Senator Durbin, to work with Senator Lee, and the 34 other Senate members who are working on a bipartisan basis to address this, to work together so that we can bring [Lee’s] Fairness for High-Skill Immigrants Act to the floor and send it to the house for consideration.
The foreign-born population of Virginia reached 12.5 percent in 2017, according to the Migration Policy Institute. In North Carolina, outsourcing helped push the foreign-born percentage to 8.1 percent in 2017.
The Democrats’ record urban turnout in the 2019 election is also a warning to the GOP, said a post-election article in the Atlantic. The article quoted Rachel Bitecofer, a political expert at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University, saying:
the urban/nonurban divisions evident in this week’s elections “should scare the ever-loving bejesus” out of 2020 Republican Senate candidates in states with large metropolitan populations, including Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina. “Their danger level … has increased exponentially,” she argues
Tillis is a long-time supporter of outsourcing Americans’ jobs. Before being elected in 2006, he worked as a manager at IBM and at PricewaterhouseCoopers. Both firms are heavily involved in the white-collar outsourcing business.
His home state already has a large population of Indian workers who have taken jobs from American graduates. In 2017, companies asked the federal government for visas to import another 10,000 H-1B workers, to complement to state’s existing population of roughly 30,000 H-1Bs, according to SAIT.org.
Roughly 54 percent of the imported workers were to be paid less than $80,000 a year, although the actual pay is often far less than the number reported to the U.S. government. The website is run by Save American Information Technology Jobs, which opposes outsourcing U.S. college jobs to foreign graduates.
that Blue Cross and Blue Shield was laying off 165 customer service representatives, many of whom had been brought in to enroll ACA customers. The majority of them work in Durham and the others work out of the company’s offices in Fayetteville and Winston-Salem.
In 2016, the Charlotte Observer reported:
At Bank of America [in Charlotte], visa workers are filling some positions once held by Americans who were either laid off by the bank or shifted into other positions, the employee said.
“I’m working more and more with H-1B visa developers than American developers within our company,” the employee said. “We’ve seen them pretty much replace a lot of the developer/programmer-type roles.”
“If you go into any development team in the bank, I don’t know of any American developers that I’ve worked with over the last couple of years. They’re all Indian.”
The 2016 article also quotes Tillis’s defense of outsourcing:
During this year’s Senate panel hearing on the H-1B program, North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said Charlotte had 1,000 unfilled IT positions two years ago.
“There was a mismatch between the requirements of the job and the skills that the person brought to the table,” Tillis said at the hearing. “Just because this person says they’re an IT person, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are qualified for the IT job, particularly with the highly specialized nature of the industry today.”