Compete America's blue card ad
Compete America's blue card ad
Date: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 11:34 PM
<<<<< JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER No. 1811 -- 1/23/2008 >>>>>
I sort of hate to have to do two newsletters in the same day about Compete
America's peridy against American workers, but when I went to their website to
do researcj fpr the first newsletter about their fix for H-1B, I couldn't help
but see an annoying graphic that changes between a "blue card" and a "green
card" as you move your mouse over it. They also offer a pdf file that they
claim is an advertisement, so apparently they plan to unleash their propaganda
on the unsuspecting public.
In typical fashion Compete America is being highly misleading because the
"blue card" has far more in common to the H-1B than "green cards". Like the H-
1B visa, the blue card would be a temporary visa that would be used primarily
for high-tech workers, and because the employer owns the visa, the worker is
indentured. Blue card holders are given visas for 2 years and in similar
fashion H-1Bs are for 3 years. Some people argue that the H-1B is quite
different because blue cards offer a path to citizenship, but that too is a
misconception because H-1B is a "dual intent" visa that allows visa holders to
apply for permanent residency.
So, considering the fact that Compete America isn't stupid, why are they
holding onto the myth that blue cards are like green cards? I suspect their
motivation has less to do with facts and more to do with clever marketing.
The cheap labor lobby knows all too well that H-1B comes with some heavy
baggage and negative connotations, whereas green cards are adored by all the
media darlings, pundits, politicians, and even dumb engineering associations
like the IEEE. If I read Compete America's intent correctly, they would be OK
with green cards if we had a whole lot more of them, and we gave them to
anyone that Intel, Microsoft felt deserved them.
To see their animated graphic, go here and put your mouse over the blue square
-- you can download the pdf ad on the left side of the page:
The blue card received a lot of publicity when Craig Barrett of Intel wrote an
op-ed for the Washington Post where he opined about the necessity of
increasing the number of H-1B visas in order to compete with Europe.
I published a rebuttal to Craig Barrett's op-ed that you can read at either
one of these two links. You can leave comments on the vindy.com page if you
care to give an opinion.
John Miano got a short rebuttal in a letter to the editor in the Washington
Post and that's also worth a read, so it's included below.
Claims that U.S. future depends on immigrants puts con in Silicon Valley By
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
By ROB SANCHEZ
SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
Intel Chairman Craig Barrett made dire predictions in a Jan. 2 Vindicator
column that the next Silicon Valley will not be in the United States due to
restrictive immigration policies and that a brain drain from the United States
to Europe will cause an economic Armageddon. In his hypothetical scenario, the
United States would lose out in the competition for talent as the best
inventors and entrepreneurs migrate to Europe.
This scaremongering is a smokescreen to hide Barrett s desire to increase the
labor supply, thereby slashing labor costs.
High-tech industries such as Intel routinely make false claims that there are
shortages of qualified Americans. Anecdotal claims of shortages are touted in
order to make the corporate case for increasing the number of H-1B visas.
Recent studies, such as one by the Urban Institute, show the United States is
creating fewer high-tech jobs than the number of qualified people who are
entering the workforce.
Intel s claim that it can t find enough talented workers is dubious, given
that Intel is eliminating thousands of jobs in locations such as New Mexico,
California and Oregon. If Intel is having such a tough time finding qualified
workers, why are they firing so many workers already in their employ?
Barrett asks us to take a leap of faith when he warns that worldwide shortages
of high-tech workers are endemic. He furthers his argument by saying that
Europe will win the competition to attract scarce talent when the European
Union institutes a new visa called the "blue card." Like the H-1B visa in the
United States, the blue card would be a temporary guest-worker visa that
indentures each worker to the employer. Other similarities between the H-1B
visa and the blue card include their not-so-subtle purpose of undercutting and
replacing more expensive domestic workforces. Both the blue card and H-1B visa
offer temporary employment and after a set number of years a path to
If passed, Europe would not be able to use blue cards to drain our human
capital because both continents have worker gluts, not shortages. There is an
even more obvious reason none of this is likely to happen -- Europe doesn t
have a blue card program yet, and it s just as likely that it never will.
European labor groups have been resisting the blue card because they don t
want a fiasco like the H-1B program foisted upon them. They argue that blue
cards, like H-1Bs, would accelerate the unemployment of their own domestic
high-tech workforce. "We have 3.5 million unemployed and that means that
companies can find workers within Germany," said Olaf Scholz, Germany s
employment minister. He implored employers to hire their own people instead of
using blue cards to import foreign workers.
Here and there
Socially responsible attitudes prevalent in Europe are sadly absent in the
United States, where public policy is driven by corporate agendas. Scholz
stands in stark contrast to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, who justified
the expansion of the H-1B program in a Parade Magazine article by blaming
American workers for having lousy attitudes and saying they need anger
EU policy-makers face many obstacles before the blue card becomes reality.
One of the toughest is negotiating a uniform salary level among members who
have large wage disparities. As currently proposed, visa holders would be
required to earn at least three times the minimum salary of each host nation.
That would work out to be about $4 an hour in Lithuania and $30 in Ireland.
Intel does not hesitate to use the corporate clich4e that more employment-
based visas are necessary to attract the "best and brightest"
into the United States. If Intel were sincere, its CEO wouldn t be so worried
about competing with Europe for $4 per hour computer programmers.
>> Rob Sanchez is a senior writing fellow for Californians for
Opening the Door to More Skilled Workers?
Tuesday, January 1, 2008; A10
Regarding Craig Barrett's Dec. 23 op-ed, "A Talent Contest We're Losing":
Mr. Barrett suggested that the United States could lose the competition for
global talent because of the European Union's "Blue Card" plan to attract
workers from abroad.
But the Blue Card that Mr. Barrett said would mean that the "next Silicon
Valley will not be in the United States" does not even exist. It is just a
proposal by the E.U. bureaucracy. Because this proposal would require the
approval of all E.U. members, it is unlikely ever to become reality.
Mr. Barrett went on to assert that E.U. leaders recognize that foreign
graduates can "reinvigorate European industry." In reality, there is
widespread, high-level opposition to the proposal. At a December meeting to
discuss the idea, Germany's employment minister said there is no need for it.
Leaders from Britain, the Czech Republic, Austria and the Netherlands have
been among those to criticize it.
We can only hope that U.S. immigration policy will not be influenced by
hysteria from those seeing mere phantoms in Europe.
A Talent Contest We're Losing
By Craig Barrett
Sunday, December 23, 2007; B07
The European Union took a step recently that the U.S. Congress can't seem to
muster the courage to take. By proposing a simple change in immigration
policy, E.U. politicians served notice that they are serious about competing
with the United States and Asia to attract the world's top talent to live,
work and innovate in Europe. With Congress gridlocked on immigration, it's
clear that the next Silicon Valley will not be in the United States.
European politicians face many of the same political pressures surrounding
immigration as their U.S. counterparts, and they, too, are not immune to those
pressures. Nationalist and anti-immigrant factions in several Western European
countries have made political gains in recent elections and are widely viewed
as mainstream. Despite the hot-button nature of immigration issues, though,
E.U. politicians advanced the "Blue Card" proposal in late October.
The plan is designed to attract highly educated workers by creating a
temporary but renewable two-year visa. A streamlined application process would
allow qualified prospective workers to navigate the system and start working
in high-need jobs within one to three months.
This contrasts starkly with the byzantine system in place in the United
States, which increasingly threatens America's long-term competitiveness.
The United States relies primarily on two programs to augment its workforce
with highly educated, highly skilled foreign professionals. The H-1B visa is a
three-year temporary visa that can be renewed once. The employment-based (EB)
green card is the program for permanent residency.
Both programs serve the needs of U.S. employers seeking to fill job vacancies
in highly skilled professions. Extreme shortages of visas in both these
programs are well documented.
H-1B visas, which are capped at 85,000 per year, are now gone in one day, with
the "winners" determined by lottery.
The EB green card program has an annual allotment of 140,000 visas; these are
allocated equally across all countries around the world, regardless of
population. The inflexible country quotas mean that professionals from
countries such as China and India are almost always at a disadvantage, finding
themselves stuck in a system -- often for five to 10 years -- in which they
cannot seek promotions and raises. Spouses and children count against the
quota, which has not been raised since 1990. And even though they count
against the quota of foreign workers allowed to come here, spouses are
inexplicably forbidden to work, no matter their level of education and skill.
The U.S. system forces thousands of valuable foreign-born professionals --
including badly needed researchers, scientists, teachers and engineers -- into
legal and professional limbo for years. Not surprisingly, many are considering
opportunities in competitor nations -- even those who have lived in the United
States for years and have graduated from American universities.
To be competitive in the global economy, U.S. companies depend on specialized
talent coming out of U.S. graduate schools. These scientists and engineers are
often foreign-born, as more than half of U.S. engineering master's students
and PhD recipients are international students. Yet America shuts the door on
many of these highly educated graduates, forcing them to look abroad for
opportunities -- and our competitors are capitalizing on our failed policies.
E.U. leaders recognize that the top minds coming out of universities in the
United States and other countries can help to reinvigorate European industry
and enable it to create the next wave of businesses that drive innovation and
While its Blue Card proposal still requires approval by member countries,
Europe has sent a message. It intends to aggressively pursue the professional
talent necessary to compete on the global stage. The United States, on the
other hand, seems intent on driving away the very same talent the European
Union is rolling out the red carpet to welcome.
The writer is chairman of Intel Corp., which employs about 2,000 employees
with H-1B visas among its 86,000 workers worldwide.
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