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Immigration Reform 2013: It Could Actually Hurt Recent College Grads

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Without a doubt, graduating from college no longer has the grandeur it once had. When the adult world only offers jobs at Starbucks and the inescapable burden of student debt that can’t be paid off, a college degree really isn’t the key to a golden future anymore.

It’s reported that 53% of those who just got their degrees are either unemployed or underemployed and it’s estimated that roughly 284,000 Americans with college degrees work minimum wage jobs.

On top of these gloomy figures, there is also the looming crisis of massive student loan debt that many of these graduates have to face along with their dismal employment prospects. But if Congress decides to dramatically increase the amount of H1B Visas issued every year, the employment situation might worsen for this demographic.

Reports detailing the ongoing Gang of Eight talks reveal that their immigration reform plan will probably include a measure that will double the amount of H1B visas given to foreign nationals to work in the U.S. Another piece of proposed Senate legislation would lead to the possibility of not only doubling, but tripling the amount of H1B Visas issued every year by the federal government.

H1Bs are non-immigrant visas given to high-skilled workers from other countries to temporarily work in America. It has been argued that expanding the program would help reverse the supposed “brain drain” of America that has led to a labor shortage in STEM-based fields.

But that argument is not exactly true. According to Daniel Costa, an Immigration Policy Analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, reports that claim that there is a looming labor shortage in the computer-related market are distorted and that the calls for an expansion of the H1B program are misguided. Costa states that the claim is misleading because it assumes that only those with computer science degrees can fill those jobs, there’s a high unemployment rate (3.4%) relative to full employment for computing occupations (2%), and that issuing more H1Bs and green cards to foreign workers would only increase unemployment for those already in the computer field.

Another expert, Hal Salzman, a professor at Rutgers University, has done extensive research of the claim that there is an all-around dearth of American STEM graduates and found that to be also very misleading and largely untrue. There’s even the claim that these visas are the “outsourcing visa.”

Senator Dick Durbin, one of the members of the Gang of Eight, charged H1Bs with this very same label on the Senate floor back in 2007. Evidence that offshore companies receive half of all H1Bs issued bolsters that claim.

It can be seen that the main reason that American companies want these workers is not because of an American brain drain, but due to the fact they’ll work for lower wages than American workers.

While it’s unreasonable to think that all or even most of unemployed college grads would be capable of taking these jobs, it’s reasonable to think that a significant amount would have the skill set to succeed in these positions. With unemployment so high and looking like it won’t recede anytime soon, the need for more H1Bs will not appeal to the senses of average Americans and will looked at as another sign of a growing gap between the people and their representatives.

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