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Guzzardi column: Elitist Ivanka Trump wants more skilled immigration

Joe Guzzardi

Ivanka Trump wasn’t in the Golden Globes audience when master of ceremonies Ricky Gervais delivered his scathing indictment of celebrities and Hollywood elite. Trump would have been well advised to heed Gervais’ message. Gervais urged the assembled actors to, if called on to accept an award, shut up, refrain from making political speeches that no one wants to hear, and stop the hypocritical pretense of concern about average Americans, about whom they know nothing.

Trump is quite possibly the nation’s most privileged individual. A bride who pays an estimated $50,000 for a Vera Wang wedding dress that required the skills of 28 seamstresses, weighed 50 pounds and was accessorized with $265,000 of diamonds isn’t the average woman. Nor does such a woman hang out with entry-level H-1–types.

Even though Trump has only, at best, a superficial understanding of the technology industry and federal immigration policy as it affects the H-1–employment visa, she was nevertheless the Consumer Electronics Show’s keynote speaker. Speaking in her capacity as her father’s advisor and as the co-chair of the globalist American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, Trump made some condescending, throwaway comments about retraining existing American workers so that they would be prepared for “jobs of the future.”

But Trump’s sub-rosa message came through clearly – immigration laws should be revised to allow what she referred to as highly educated foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. Then Trump added that the president “thinks it’s absolutely insane that we educate immigrants from around the world and just when they’re about to start companies, we throw them out of the country. We need to reach over the sidelines, draw them into our workforce.” Trump’s reference was to students with F-1 visas, mostly Indian, enrolled in U.S. universities.

For immigration advocates like Trump and her like-minded husband Jared Kushner (who live in $5.5 million, 7,000 square foot homes) pontificating about what 50-year-old displaced U.S. tech workers should do with the remainder of their professional lives is easy. Trump/Kushner will never have to worry about making next month’s mortgage payment, putting food on the table, getting health care coverage or paying for their children’s college education. The H-1–visa means that corporations displace older workers with younger, foreign nationals, mostly age 34 or younger. A Bloomberg story described the plight of U.S. tech workers: “It’s Tough Being Over 40 in Silicon Valley.”

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But the truth is that, as President Trump knows all too well, many students remain unlawfully after their visas expire, and few are “thrown out.” Many F-1 visa holders have been able to enroll in the Optional Practical Training program, which the Bush administration expanded and which continues unabated today, even though it never received congressional approval. Foreign nationals on OPT can work for 29 months; science, technology engineering and math (STEM) students may work for three years which helps employers circumvent the 85,000 H-1–cap. In terms of participants, OPT now exceeds the H-1–program. Department of Homeland Security data shows that universities provided 215,000 OPT work permits in 2018. The left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, among other think tanks, has concluded that OPT harms U.S. workers. Overall, an estimated 46 percent of all 10 million-plus visa holders remain in the U.S. after their departure date has expired. Many are illegally employed.

In the co-authored Atlantic Council report titled “Reforming US’ High-Skilled Guest Worker Program,” Ron Hira, a Howard University professor, and Bharath Gopalaswamy, director of the Council’s South Asia Center,, spelled out just how devastating the decades-long inflow of cheaper, younger overseas labor is. Virtually every American-held white-collar job is at risk. A significant percentage of H-1–visas is not issued to tech workers, but instead to teachers, accountants and sales representatives. The authors also concluded that, by every objective measure, most H-1–workers have ordinary abilities, skills that are readily available in the domestic labor market.

The H-1–and its bastard offspring, OPT, and H-4 for spouses, a job displacement visa that also began without congressional approval in 2015, continue relentlessly because financial powerhouses like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have convinced Capitol Hill leaders and media potentates that the U.S. desperately needs foreign labor. They’ve also duped Ivanka Trump and her father who once promised to reform but has since abandoned his pledge to rein in the H-1–visa that’s been a consistent American job killer since its creation in 1990.

Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for Immigration Reform analyst who has written about immigration for more than 30 years. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.


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