Zuckerberg Is Right About Immigration

Last week an Economist piece on H1B visas offered the following tidbit. "The cap on visas is entirely arbitrary and unnecessary, and almost certainly imposes high economic costs on the country." Well, it only took a few days for Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) CEO Mark Zuckerberg to come up with a solution -- offer more of them.

In an op-ed in The Washington Post, Zuckerberg argued that the U.S. needs to do more to attract highly skilled immigrants in order to keep up with the rest of the world. His solution involves increasing the number of H1B visas and letting those visa holders stick around longer. In this effort, he's being supported by executives from Google, LinkedIn, and Yahoo!, to name just a few.

The current situation
Right now, the US gives out 65,000 H1B visas each year. This year, it took less than a week to issue all of them -- hope you applied early. The government issues H1B visas in partnership with business, which are supposed to use the visas to "employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers." 

The program is not designed to find employees who are smarter, faster, or generally better than American employees. It is instead designed to increase the pool of skilled workers by tapping international resources. Zuckerberg alluded to this point in his piece, writing, "[T]he more people who know something, the better educated and trained we all are, the more productive we become, and the better off everyone in our nation can be." His point being that we should get as many skilled people as we can if we want to compete at the highest level.

The "problems" with H1B
Since we're talking about it, there is clearly another side to the story. Those who argue against the H1B program expansion say that it drags down incomes, takes jobs away from Americans, or fails to capture the best possible candidates. I've already pointed out that the purpose of the program isn't to get the top echelon of workers, but simply to increase the pool. The other two points are also simple misunderstandings of the actual system, and neither of them should stop us from expanding the program, as Zuckerberg suggests.

Income being dragged down by foreign workers is a traditional response to any increase in the foreign labor. It's a common response because it's true, to some degree. By increasing the availability of labor, you drive down the value of that labor. But what we don't take into account is the value that the labor provides us as a whole.

A recent study found that while wages are decreased, overall output increases and the economy profits. That study took into account both illegal and legal immigrants, and the positive effects would likely be expanded due to an increase in the H1B population, as it applies to high margin fields, like software development.

The second concern is that an increase in the number of H1B holders would take jobs away from Americans. However, The Wall Street Journal has published a breakdown of unemployment by field, and computer related fields tend to have unemployment rates between 3% and 4%, which indicates that the sector is doing well, and can sustain the increase in the labor force.

The bottom line
Zuckerberg is right, and we should be embracing an increase in the skilled labor force across the technology sector. By increasing H1B visas, we increase the overall output of the sector, and ensure that America maintains a strong position in the global tech industry. This will be an important lobbying topic over the next few years, and a positive result would mean great things for the companies involved, as well as the economy as a whole.

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  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 3:43 AM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    Mark Zuckerburg has a solid track record of lying and having a lack of integrity that should be known by anyone who witnessed the Facebook IPO fraud. This guy is a fraud and believes that throwing $20 million behind a lie will convince everyone that the lie is true.

    Very few people object to truly "highly skilled" immigrant workers. That is why this country has the O-1 visa. The recipients of the H-1B visa are NOT qualified to receive an O-1 visa because they are NOT "highly skilled". In fact the GAO concluded that 94% of H-1B visas are NOT even "Fully Competent".

    In 2011, the GAO completed a study for Congress that concluded that a mere 6% of H-1B visa recipients are "Fully Competent" with 54% of H-1B visa recipients being "Entry Level" workers. Tragically, many disenfranchised US STEM workers, as their last official duty of being an employed US STEM worker, was forced to train their foreign replacement in order to receive a severance package.

    That foreign replacement is in this country on one of many work visas, like the H-1B visa, that the White House and Congress grants multinational corporations, like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, that those multinational corporations use to hire workers from low cost labor centers mainly India and Communist China to displace and disenfranchise US STEM workers in order to reduce labor costs.

    The H-1B visa is not used for "highly skilled" workers. The H-1B visa is designed to reduce labor costs.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 3:56 AM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    The story reports, "The Wall Street Journal has published a breakdown of unemployment by field, and computer related fields tend to have unemployment rates between 3% and 4%, which indicates that the sector is doing well, and can sustain the increase in the labor force."

    Anyone who reports a 3% to 4% unemployment rate, ignores the millions of permanently displaced and disenfranchised US STEM workers. No one will ever know the innovation that never occurred because a US STEM worker was forced out of their desired profession by replacing that worker with a worker from a low cost labor center in India and Communist China in order to reduce labor costs.

    The STEM workforce is actually relatively small when compared to the workforces of other professions. There is a workforce of 5 million US STEM workers, for which 15 million received a college or university degree in a STEM discipline. For every three graduates of a US college and university in a STEM discipline, there is only one job.

    This is the disaster as it exists today. Corporate forces and their political SOCKPUPPETS in the White House and Congress plan to extend this disaster.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 8:36 AM, TMFRedRam wrote:

    Thanks for reading.

    The term "Fully Competent", as used in the GAO report, is the high end of a range of wages. It is used to designate hires that have "management and/or supervisory 

    responsibilities." So that only 6% of H1B recipients got that level of pay in 2009, when the study was completed, seems like a footnote. It's certainly not a reason to stop giving out H1Bs, or a reason to cut back on giving them out.

    If you don't believe the unemployment statistics then I suppose you can make up your own number. But it doesn't make any sense to hire H1B holders to save on costs.

    First, there's a cost associated with getting and H1B. Second, it's a lottery system. Third, you have to pay the prevailing wage. Fourth, the employee has to leave after three to six years.

    Why wouldn't I just hire a US citizen and pay them what I would pay the H1B holder? Given the constraints, I would only do it if I couldn't find a US citizen.

    Cheers, Andrew

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 8:54 AM, TMFRedRam wrote:

    One last thing.

    If your five million STEM jobs number is right, and if everyone on an H1B stayed the maximum six years, it would only account for 390,000 jobs. That's only 8% of the total workforce, and that figure can't grow.

    Cheers, Andrew

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 9:32 AM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    Andrew, thanks for your consideration. Please refer to http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d1126.pdf That is the GAO report to which I referred. Please refer to page 58, table 5 or http://techtalk.dice.com/t5/image/serverpage/image-id/918iBE...

    That chart should refute any claim that these workers are "highly skilled". Indeed 54% of H-1B visa recipients are "Entry Level" workers. That is the condition with current law. Any expansion will further exacerbate the problems.

    As for your claim that 6 years of H-1B visas yield 390,000 visas, that is assuming that there is 65,000 visas granted annually, which is a non-true premise. If you were familiar with this issue beyond a cursory two hour research, you would be aware that there are a host of exclusions that are not covered by the 65,000 cap. Indeed, over 134,000 H-1B visas were printed last year. That does not include the 100,000 OPT visas, the 75,000 L-1 visas or the hundreds of thousands of B-1 visas that are being used illegally in broad daylight with impunity. All totaled, somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 work visas are being granted annually that displace US STEM workers.

    Again that is current law. Any expansion of any work visa program will further expand the disaster to the careers, and lives of millions of US STEM workers all across America.

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 10:53 AM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    For supporting documentation that there is one STEM job for every three STEM graduates of US colleges and universities, please refer to "Gaming the System 2012" http://dpeaflcio.org/wp-content/uploads/Gaming-the-System-20...

    The direct quote on page 29 reads, "The science and engineering workforce is about 4.8 million, while 15.7 million workers hold science or engineering degrees."

    Further, report states, "Labor market indicators do not demonstrate a supply shortage and the evidence suggesting a need for more H-1B workers is anecdotal. According to the Urban Institute, industry claims of pervasive shortages of qualified workers are just not true. Often, managers’ complaints about an inability to hire qualified workers do not rest in a lack of qualified

    applicants, but in expectations to hire low-wage workers who have specific work experience and do not require additional training."

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 11:33 AM, TMFRedRam wrote:

    Thanks again for reading and for assuming that I didn't research this enough.

    If you look at http://www.doleta.gov/grants/rfp/SIM_Training_Manual.cfm you'll see that the GOA glossed over the definition of fully competent. From the Department of Labor:

    "Level II represents fully competent employees or those whose jobs require advanced degrees above the norm for the occupation. The applicant has several years of experience related to the position applied for, has extensive training and/or an advanced degree."

    As to the claim that over 134,000 visas were printed last year, apart from your exact paragraph appearing here: http://gretawire.foxnewsinsider.com/2013/03/21/what-republic... I don't see where you're getting that number.

    There are exclusions and exemptions, including people who got degrees in the US.

    As for the AFLCIO's claim, which is anecdotal itself, how are "qualified applicants" not those that "have specific work experience and do not require additional training?"

    In my head, that's what qualified means.

    Again, happy to discuss the 134,000 figure if it's real.

    Cheers, Andrew

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 12:41 PM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    Hold on for a second. Your reference is to a Department of Labor document. Mine is to a General Accountability Office document. They are two entirely different government agencies, and two entirely different documents.

    In the DOL document, there are two categories Level I and Level II. In the GAO document there are four levels. There is no evidence of any correlation between the two ranking methodologies.

    The point is that the GAO concluded that a mere 6% of H-1B visa recipients are "Fully Competent". And 54% of H-1B visa recipients are "Entry Level" workers.

    If you would have read the reference in the AFL-CIO document, you will have noticed that the conclusion was reached by the Urban Institute, not the AFL-CIO.

    As for the 134,000 number, that was number was provided by the USCIS. I am surprised that you would require proof of that number. You should try to do some of this research yourself if you are going to produce reports for the general public.Your knowledge of this issue is shockingly shallow, but not uncommon. Much of the press these days act as stenographers for corporate interests and rarely invest the time in research necessary to confirm the corporate tales. Surely you have not been so isolated that you are not aware of the past deviations of the truth by Mark Zuckerburg. Given his past history, I would expect a much more thorough examination of his claims. But that examination rarely happens. Zuckerburg's nonsense gets published with very little scrutiny.

    The 65,000 number does not include exceptions for 20,000 recipients of graduate level degrees or H-1B visas for employees of "non-profit" agencies, in which there is no limit of H-1B visas. BTW, the "non-profits" are free to hire out their H-1B visa recipients to any organization that they please.

    For more information, I suggest that you refer to the following documents. I appreciate the opportunity to correct your misunderstandings and better educate the readers of your report.

    U.S. pushes for more scientists, but the jobs aren’t there: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/us-pus...

    America’s Genius Glut: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/08/opinion/americas-genius-gl...

    Conjuring a High-Tech Labor Shortage: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stan-sorscher/labor-shortage_b...

    If There’s a Gap, Blame It on the Employer: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/07/09/does-a-skill...

    Why Companies Aren't Getting the Employees They Need: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020442240457659...

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 12:59 PM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    The following story cites the number of H-1B visas approved for 2012 as 134,780:

    The data shows: Top H-1B users are offshore outsourcers: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9236732/The_data_show...

  • Report this Comment On April 13, 2013, at 7:22 PM, TMFRedRam wrote:

    Sorry for the delay -- Saturday.

    First as to GAO vs DOL, if you look back at the graphic you linked to, you'll see that the data was provided by the DOL to the GOA.

    Second, you're almost right -- 134,780 I129 forms were approved, I imagine you already know the difference. Those represent petitions on behalf of a worker for an H1B, but do not equal H1Bs.

    As highlighted in Congressional testimony, multiple companies -- likely Cognizant, Tata, Infosys, or Accenture, as they account for almost a quarter of I129 request -- can apply on behalf of one person.

    That happens because the same candidate is shipped out to many different firms by placement agencies in the home country of the worker.

    So the number of I129s issued is much inflated. Also, it includes, as you pointed out, a ton of nonprofits. I found about 20,000 on first glance.

    The testimony is here: http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Resources/Congress/Testimonies/20... at the end of page 3.

    I also want to be clear that I'm not wearing rose colored glasses here. I know there's fraud and abuse. But limited instances of those problems aren't reason not to expand the program.

    Cheers, Andrew

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2013, at 8:39 AM, twinsfan1100 wrote:

    If you want to support the H-1B visa, that is fine with me. Who am I? I don't define what is right and wrong.

    But if you want to build a case for the H-1B visa, please do it with reality instead of corporate myths and lies. In the future, you should never write any story in which the title begins, "Mark Zuckerburg is right about ..." Mark Zuckerburg is not right about anything. As the victims of the Facebook IPO will attest, Mark Zuckerburg is a LIAR! This effort by Mark Zuckerburg and his public relations people is to perpetuate another FRAUD among the long list of past, current, and future FRAUDS that Mark Zuckerburg will inflict on his victims.

    Secondly, you should now realize that the H-1B visa is NOT for "highly skilled" workers. The O-1 visa is for "highly skilled" workers. The H-1B visa is for cheap, entry level, replacement workers from low cost labor centers primarily India and Communist China.

    Thirdly, don't tell us that there are only 65,000 work visas being granted. As I said earlier, there are somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 work visas granted annually by the White House and Congress to multinational corporations that multinational corporations use to replace US STEM workers with cheap, entry level, replacement workers from low cost labor centers in India and Communist China to reduce labor costs.

    That way, your readers, among which are young people who are planning their lives. When you frame your story in honesty, instead of corporate myths and lies, those young people will be better able to plan their lives and careers. They will learn that corporate America, which young people would otherwise hope to plan a long term partnership, has no interest in forming a long term relationship with US workers. Corporate America wants to form their partnership with cheap, entry level, submissive workers from low cost labor centers, not workers who have the dream of having a job that will drive the income necessary for living a middle class lifestyle in the US.

  • Report this Comment On April 14, 2013, at 5:39 PM, jakeleone wrote:

    In 2012, more than 40,000 H-1b visas were used by Offshore IT Outsourcing companies. By your false reckoning (65k), that would close to 62%. Now we know that not all H-1b visas are for IT tech. Oddly, there's a producer over at the Huffington post applying for an H-1b, so even apparently English majors apply for H-1b. So you are looking 38% of the remaining, probably 20% of the H-1b's used in 2012 were for domestic companies.

    If your wondering where most of the visa applications came from in 2013, well Offshore Outsourcers took most of them (probably 95%).

    Look, if you have any moral sense at all, you have to agree that Outsourcing Companies, some of which have U.S. engineering departments that are 90% here on a visa from the home country, have got to be barred from this program. They don't even try to look for local candidates. I mean come on, are a racist of something?

    Microsoft, Google... they throw away 99.99% of the resumes they recieve, yet still have U.S. engineering departments that are less than 20% here on an H-1b visa.

    The reality is that H-1b, is mostly used by Offshore Outsourcing companies as a way to exclude from U.S. citizens from their engineering workforce.

    Why on Earth should we even allow companies that practice such blatant racial discrimination to even use our Government programs and then also to remove whole departments full of jobs to overseas locations, with that same Government program?

    The Offshore Outsourcing companies market a labor intensive product, and they destroy the normal effort in this country to increase productivity per worker (not per CEO). There are many tools out there can do the job of ten contractor, but because of the initial cost, companies don't go for them. Instead they go for the labor intensive solution offered by the Outsourcers, and then they are hooked, spending more over time than they would with initially more expensive solution. This damages U.S. productivity in the long run.

    The reality is that capitalism is both free (as in freedom) labor and free enterprize. When we allow the government to deprive a class of workers their rights, and then hand them over to industry, we are destroying the normal market forces. The reality is H-1b is all about the government picking the winners and the losers.

    And the program has been hijacked by Offshore Outsourcing companies, which practice a sick form of racial discrimination, to remove jobs from United States.

    We have let the whining of a few tech execs (that frankly barely use the program), and who basically just want protection from the real free market. Expand a visa program that is mostly used by Offshore Outsourcing companies to remove jobs from the United States.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2013, at 11:32 AM, john80224 wrote:

    Just who is "the economy" you speak of when "the economy profits"? Your point is that it is righteous and good to drive down labor--especially the expensive sorts? You don't want talent to have value. And what will be the long-term effect of your celebrated "destroy wages" effect? More interest in STEM and innovation? Hardly. Seems a very short-term, self-serving view aiding a very small percentage of the population. Perhaps its good that most of us don't have a fortune to pass down to our children or the next generation might be as self-centered, poorly grounded and ultimately unproductive as you.

  • Report this Comment On April 15, 2013, at 11:52 AM, john80224 wrote:

    @TMFRedRam:

    "But it doesn't make any sense to hire H1B holders to save on costs. " On the surface, I'd agree, but reality and closer inspection often change the picture.

    The cost is fairly nominal compared to the cost of the position--generally within the company's pay grade for the stated job. Artificially inflating the labor pool allows more room to hire much less expensive, newer workers, and in the long run reduces the costs, as the article celebrates. Prevailing wage is little more than an honor system. I'm not saying no company follows it, but pay ranges at Cognizant and Accenture are laughable in many areas and for all Microsoft's complaints about unfilled $100K jobs, it's odd only 17% of their tech staff is in this range. Six years is nearly an eternity. IT companies often PREFER to hire on contract. Some of these positions could cycle through 15 people in six years.

    Again, there are legitimate uses and users of the system, but for many others the answer to "Why wouldn't I just hire a US citizen and pay them what I would pay the H1B holder?" is because the H-1B salary is below what it should be.

  • Report this Comment On April 17, 2013, at 10:29 PM, matilla wrote:

    I am really surprised to see FOOL.com actually supporting this zuckerburg kid. He is not right and the HB1 Visa drive is what started the huge problem back in 2001. Many of us never recovered. I remember the lies back then. The pay was lower because they offered a very wide range. Not that anyone really walked in the door making the maximum pay but once we worked our way to the top of the pay scale. We often trained our replacements. After 9/11 in 2001 many corporations laid off American workers blaming dot com bubble bursts and 9/11.

    They planned to fire or lay Americans off anyway. Thats why they were trained in the first place.

    Don't buy the hype. There are many skilled American workers out there. They are using every excuse imaginable to avoid hiring them.

    One of the latest tactics is to disqualify anyone who has been unemployed for 6 months.

  • Report this Comment On May 01, 2013, at 12:10 PM, LightningBoy2 wrote:

    motley fool sucks big time, i saw video of them making fun of people who buy gold, now they support zuckerberg, they are thugs ass holes, morons, pigs

  • Report this Comment On May 01, 2013, at 12:36 PM, LightningBoy2 wrote:

    Motley Fool = bourgeoisie traitors

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 2:08 PM, fmelvin4 wrote:

    The answer is simply to increase the L1 visas for higher educated individuals but leave the H1B alone. The level of competency that a typical H1B visa candidate provides can be taught in a very short period of time to individuals with an aptitude for software development, which is easily identified with a standard test that larger companies used to provide. I started in the IT industry through an 8-week company-sponsored training course after passing the aptitude test, and 10 years later, I became a successful Systems Architect. All of my classmates, many from diverse industries such as sales and retail, are still thriving in the profession as well.

    With unemployment so high, this is a solid opportunity for our nation to shift employment to the jobs we need very quickly. In my case, it took our class of 8 weeks of training at a low salary ($30k/year) to get up to speed.

  • Report this Comment On May 20, 2013, at 2:16 PM, fmelvin4 wrote:

    Matilla nailed it above. The reason US students aren't as interested in technology is what happened to IT professionals 2001-2004 whereby the H1B visa cap had been raised to 195k before the loop was closed in 2004, but not before the significant damage to the IT profession due to low-cost foreign workers' availability to displace a significant portion of the US IT workforce. The IT profession has not fully recovered yet, but any significant cap increase will be the proverbial final nails in the coffin and disinterest in IT will again become very high at US universities, causing our primary dependence on foreign technology workers. Then what will US workers do for a living?

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