What is remarkable about the 2016 presidential election process thus far is the sheer volume of important questions that have not been asked. While the leftist media is busy asking candidates about their shoes, the things the American people should know—indeed, need to know—before they vote in the primaries and again in the fall never seem to come up.
In keeping with this pattern of discussing nonsense over substance, two of the candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump, have never been asked to fully explain their position on foreign workers: Why do they both support the importation and use of cheap foreign labor, and the displacement of American employees?
While Rubio is widely known for his comprehensive amnesty bill, his name is also on another atrocious and much more recent immigration bill. He has yet to be asked about it at a debate or in any major forum on the campaign trail. In January 2015, Rubio joined Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) as an original co-sponsor of a bill that is deceptively named the Immigration Innovation (or “I-Squared”) Act. The only original thing about this bill is that its supporters have innovatively prevented the American people from noticing how economically destructive it would be if it ever became law.
As CR’s Michelle Malikin detailed in length, the I-Squared Act calls for a dramatic increase in the number of foreign workers that can be brought into the United States under the H-1B visa program. On paper, the H-1B program is ostensibly designed to allow U.S. employers to find highly educated individuals from abroad to fill highly technical positions that could not be filled by Americans. In reality, however, the H-1B program has been rampantly abused by corporate America to fire experienced American information technology employees and replace them with cheap foreign labor. H-1B visas cover virtually any immigrant with a run-of-the-mill bachelor’s degree in numerous disciplines; it’s hardly limited to rocket scientists.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, which represents 235,000 Americans in the electronics and computing industries, came out forcefully against the I-Squared Act shortly after its introduction, stating in no uncertain terms that the bill would “Help Destroy [the] U.S. High-Tech Workforce.”
Despite protestations from the corporate disciples of H-1B visas, story after story after story demonstrate how the program is being abused and is in desperate need of substantial reform or outright elimination.
With that in mind, you will be happy to know that the Hatch-Rubio I-Squared Act … proposes precisely zero reforms to the H-1B program and calls for a more-than-threefold increase in H-1B visas. And while the legislation was technically introduced by Senator Hatch, Rubio is what’s known as an “original co-sponsor,” which is Rubio’s way of saying: If Senator Hatch hadn’t beat me to introducing this job-killing legislation, I would have introduced it myself. Not exactly a pro-jobs position, with almost 100 million Americans either unemployed or under-employed.
Rubio’s continued support of the I-Squared Act is particularly mind-boggling given the public relations meltdown and subsequent class action litigation against ABC-Disney for its termination of literally hundreds of Disney IT workers in Orlando and its subsequent replacement of them with H-1B foreign labor. In what is typical of a lot of other H-1B displacement situations, Disney fired these experienced IT workers en masse, not because they had done anything wrong or were under-performing, but because they were being paid what they were worth and it was cutting into Disney CEO Bob Iger’s martini fund.
As if the mass-firing of Americans for being good at what they do was not enough, these Americans had to suffer the awful indignity of training their foreign replacements in order to receive their severance or retirement pay. Disney’s abuse came to light as a result of the courageous disclosure by a couple of former IT workers who had been let go. But there are other untold stories of H-1B abuse out there, and a lot of them are reportedly in Florida.
Someone needs to ask Rubio why he supports expansion of a job-killing visa program and legislation that would trigger the loss of even more American jobs.
Ted Cruz also got roped into the ridiculous quest for more H-1B visas when he first entered the Senate and signed onto ridiculous legislation to expand the program. But at least he has been moved by the Disney scandal and has sponsored legislation with Sen. Sessions to reform the program. We can ask legitimate questions about whether Cruz’s conversion is part of his broader, strong record on immigration or simply a campaign pander, but the bigger question is which other candidates are still bad on the issue, despite the publically-reported scandals.
Trump’s campaign has lobbed fire at Rubio for the latter’s unapologetic, pro-corporatist support for the H-1B program generally and the I-Squared Act specifically. But Trump himself has used quite a few foreign visa programs in his day to hire cheaper foreign workers instead of Americans, and he needs to be asked about that as well.
More specifically, Trump has been, and continues to be, an all-too-frequent user of several foreign visa programs. This is not conjecture but fact: according to Business Insider, an earlier Reuters investigation determined that U.S. Department of Labor records show that nine companies that are majority-owned by Trump have imported at least 1,100 foreign workers on temporary visas since 2000. While some of these visas are for fashion models, he has brought hundreds of others in to do jobs that Americans would do: waitresses, cooks, event managers, and even an assistant golf course superintendent.
For those who are curious, Trump is still using these visa programs to bring in foreign workers, his campaign rhetoric aside. According to this same report, Trump’s posh Palm Beach, Florida luxury resort, Mar-a-Lago, filed paperwork with the Department of Labor last July—in other words, in 2015—to bring in 70 foreign workers to work at Mar-a-Lago. These are jobs that Americans could have right now. (Mar-a-Lago appears to have brought in as many as 787 foreign workers since 2006, by the way.)
Trump needs to explain his use of foreign worker visa programs, particularly given his chest-thumping but detail-free pronouncements about how he will be the greatest jobs-producing president ever. To his credit, he is critical of the H-1B program on his website, but when asked about Mark Zuckerberg’s quest for more foreign workers last October during the CNBC debate, he echoed the open border talking points:
I was not at all critical of him [Zuckerberg]. I was not at all. In fact, frankly, he’s complaining about the fact that we’re losing some of the most talented people. They go to Harvard; they go to Yale; they go to Princeton. They come from another country and they are immediately sent out. I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.
Later on in the debate, moderator Becky Quick asked Trump about his website and whether he supports the H-1B program. Trump simply said “I’m in favor of people coming into this country legally…. You can call it anything you want,”
If Trump is going to garner a lot of support based on his supposed position on immigration shouldn’t we get some clarity at this late hour in the race?
If Trump’s grand plan to “Make America Great Again” is to replace as many Americans with cheaper foreign workers as possible, he probably should explain this to the 100 million Americans who are looking for work. Bringing jobs back to the United States and imposing Marxist taxes on companies that open offices overseas will do little good if he also imports workers from other countries to fill those jobs.
There are a lot of questions about positions taken by candidates over the course of their career. Those are legitimate questions. But Trump, who sells himself as a pro-American worker candidate, and Rubio, who claims to have seen the light on immigration, have never been taken to task for their existing support of foreign workers. And if our next president doesn’t leadership on this issue, it certainly won’t come from congressional Republicans.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.