Take the largest guest worker program, the H-1B. According to the Labor Department, it is supposed to “help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce.” While that may be a policy aspiration, massive loopholes enable any company to legally use the program to import cheaper workers to substitute for U.S. workers. It and smaller, lesser-known visa programs, such as the L-1 for multinational transfers, J-1 for summer work travel for foreign students who work in jobs at U.S. resorts, B-1 for business visitors, and OPT for international students completing U.S. degrees, have reduced job opportunities, depressed wages and cut off some of the best career pathways for Americans to the middle class.
The majority of H-1B visas go to fill IT-related jobs. But contrary to popular belief, most of these visa holders generally don’t do cutting-edge software engineering. Instead, most do back-office programming for banks and insurance companies. These are good-paying jobs that provide a solid middle-class standard of living, paying on average $90,180, and there is no shortage of Americans to fill these jobs.