As my co-author John Miano and I document extensively in our book Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires & Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America's Best & Brightest Workers, Rubio is signed on to the 2015 “I-Squared Act” (Immigration Innovation Act, S. 153) with immigration liberal GOP Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Note: I said “is,” not “was.”
While he disingenuously claimed at last week’s GOP debate in South Carolina that he had seen the light on immigration over the past 24 months, Sen. Rubio remains co-sponsor of yet another foreign worker visa expansion bill that threatens both our economic and national security.
The I-Squared Act, a Microsoft-hatched scheme, would massively expand the cheap foreign worker pipeline under the phony guise of supporting STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education programs for American students.
Here’s the deal.
Between 2008 and 2013, Microsoft hired nearly seventy other outside lobbyists to work on immigration issues. In addition, the company’s employees and political action committee forked over a combined $800,000 to President Obama in 2012 and another $2.7 million to mostly Democratic members of Congress. Open-borders donor class darling Sen. Rubio is a notable exception to Microsoft’s Democrat-heavy donation record.
Microsoft, founded by leading H-1B/amnesty cheerleader Bill Gates, has been Rubio’s No. 2 corporate donor the past five years.
What does Microsoft want? More, more, more cheap foreign worker visas. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the computer software giant filed for more than four thousand H-1B visas in 2010 and 2011. While laying off thousands of American workers, the company’s general counsel called on Congress to create a new supplemental visa category “with 20,000 visas annually for STEM skills that are in short supply” [the mythical U.S. STEM worker shortage is debunked here] and to “make a supplemental allocation of 20,000 new green card slots for workers with STEM skills.” In exchange, Microsoft promised to pay nearly four times the usual fees for H-1B applications. The estimated $500 million in funds raised would allegedly go to fund STEM education programs for American students.
But duped supporters of the Microsoft-authored proposal led by the STEM Education Coalition, whose members include the nonprofit National Science Teachers Association and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, soon realized it was a “bait-and-switch” scheme.
Reporter Josh Harkinson of left-wing Mother Jones magazine unmasked the fox in the henhouse. The STEM Education Coalition was headed by executive director James Brown who, unbeknownst to some of the coalition’s own members, also lobbied legislators directly on behalf of, you guessed it, Microsoft. Harkinson laid out the trickery. Pressed by the software giant, the STEM Education Coalition signed a letter in support of the Microsoft visa bill. And then came the switch:
With the coalition in its corner, Microsoft approached a bipartisan group of senators to craft what would become the Immigration Innovation, or “I-Squared” Act. And that's where the alleged “lobbying malpractice” came in. The act, as promised, would boost the caps on visas and green cards and use the fees to pay for STEM education. But in a crucial difference that has angered some of Microsoft's would-be allies, the bill would nearly quintuple the number of available visas—raising the cap to 300,000—and charge companies far less for them: as little as $1,825 apiece.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The Hatch-Rubio-Microsoft legislation would increase the H-1B quota from 65,000 to 115,000. In addition, the bill automatically adds up to 50,000 additional visas a year whenever the quota is reached, using a convoluted system similar to the Gang of Eight plan (the quota can be lowered by up to 20,000 if the quota is not reached). The effect is that the annual limit immediately rises to 165,000. The bill allows annual limits to rise up to 245,000 per year in the future.
The I’m Screwed Act exempts anyone with a masters’ degree or higher from a U.S. school from the H-1B quota. It would give employers a twofer by allowing H-1B spouses to work. The irony here is that, for the H-1B worker, the employer would have to comply with minimal labor protections. However, the spouse could work without any American worker protections whatsoever. The bill also exempts 6,800 treaty visas set aside as a result of trade agreements with Singapore and Chile from the quota. This sets a precedent for future treaty visas to be exempt as well.
As John Miano and I have reported, there are so many exemptions and quota increases in the bill that it is impossible to predict how many foreign guest workers Hatch-Rubio-Microsoft’s bill would add. It would be simpler to just say that the I’m Screwed Act would effectively remove any nominal limit on the H-1B visas. As usual with such bills, Hatch-Rubio-Microsoft would provide Kabuki funding to train Americans for the jobs that won’t exist because of the increases in foreign labor. In practice, these fees just provide a slush fund to dispense political favors.
What about enforcement? What about Americans being replaced by foreign workers? Nothing. Hatch-Rubio-Microsoft gives Big Tech donors everything they want and nothing they don’t want. In fact, the I’m Screwed Act actually hinders enforcement by limiting the ability of DHS to reject a renewal petition for an H-1B or L visa.
The I’m Screwed Act does make it easier for H-1B aliens to change jobs by allowing them sixty days to find a new job after leaving their current job (quit or fired) before they have to return home. Fine for foreign H-1B workers. But what do working American get from the bill? Cue the chirping crickets.
GOP Ala. Sen. Jeff Sessions blasted Microsoft last summer for pushing the I-Squared Act at the same time it was laying off thousands of high-skilled American workers:Microsoft has endorsed the so-called I-Squared bill to triple H-1B visas, declaring that “it’s critical that America address the shortage of workers with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills,” adding “there are high-skilled, high-paying jobs being created by American businesses across the country that are being left unfilled because of this gap.”
As Microsoft’s layoffs show, there is a surplus—not a shortage—of skilled, talented, and qualified Americans seeking STEM employment. Each year, universities graduate twice as many students with STEM degrees as find STEM jobs. According to the Census Bureau, more than 11 million Americans with STEM degrees are not employed in STEM jobs—or 3 in 4 STEM degree holders. Among recent graduates, about 35 percent of science students, 55 percent of technology students, 20 percent of engineering students, and 30 percent of math students are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree—let alone their area of specialty.
…Any increase to the H-1B visa would only quash the dreams of more talented Americans, glut the labor market and keep pay low, and push more of our own homegrown best and brightest students out of work.
There is no shortage of talented Americans, only a shortage of politicians willing to stand up to special interests demanding low-wage guest workers to hire in their place.
Industry lobbyists and political insiders are hoping Hatch, Rubio, and their Democrat co-sponsors slip the bill’s provisions into “must pass” legislation—just as GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan helped open-borders colleagues sneak the low-skilled H-2B visa expansion into the December 2015 omnibus.
Instead of attacking presidential rival and fellow GOP Sen. Ted Cruz for moving in the right direction and joining Sen. Sessions on a bill to protect American workers, Rubio should be running as far away from the special interest I-Squared bill as possible.
But he’s not.
As for voters who were willing to give Rubio a pass on his Gang of Eight sellout, remember this old saying as you contemplate the consequences of his second worst immigration bill:
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.