A lot has been said about this story, and it seems the wrong point keep coming back. The workers is not able to find work because of the H1B visa. This is a myth and a wrong statement.
This is the story to recap. Two days after Obama talked with the wife of the engineer during an online town hall and offered to take a look at her unemployed husband’s resume, the wife said the president has followed through.
The wife told The Associated Press that she got a call from a White House deputy chief of staff, who told her Obama had made a personal point of making sure the matter was taken care of. The deputy said the resume was sent to contacts in the Dallas-Fort Worth area where the couple lives.
The husband Darin has been contacted by several recruiters, and the wife said she’s grateful.
But the wife a republican, said that may not be enough to get her vote unless Obama also improves some of his job policies.
“Just because he’s able to send a resume out, that’s not going to be a vote factor,” the wife said.
“We’re just one American,” she said. “There are thousands of Americans just like my husband with no job.”
The wife wants Obama to look at limiting the number of visas going to high-tech workers from foreign countries, the issue she raised with him in a forum hosted by Google Plus.
It is very easy to blame foreign workers and the H1B visa when times are tough. People often find excuses and reasons for not being able to find work, the H1B program is a convenient target.
In an updated article about this story the engineer is still not employed and the calls from recruiters and employers stopped as the media attention faded. It seems that he had some good offers but refused to relocate for the job. Who is to blame for this, sure the H1B program. How about being too picky to move?
Crystal Williams from AILA leadership Blog had a nice take on this issue:
Sometimes you read an article and think “something doesn’t quite follow here.” An April 7, 2012 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram titled “Fort Worth engineer who got Obama’s attention still doesn’t have a job” is one such article.
The article lays out a tale with which one can readily sympathize: an engineer loses his job in the midst of the Great Recession, and remains out of work three years later. He receives expressions of interest from companies and recruiters all over the country, but cannot pursue them because a custody agreement requires he stay in the area where he now lives. It’s an impossibly tough dilemma: wedded by a vitally overarching family commitment to a geographic location where your skills are not in demand, and unable to pursue opportunities in places where demand for your skills does exist.
But the article fills in some more information. The engineer’s job loss was being used by immigration opponents to argue that H-1B specialty occupation professionals should not be allowed into the United States because here is an engineer who needs a job. This was raised with no less than the President of the United States in a video chat.
This chat exchange received considerable publicity, and immediately the engineer was being contacted by potential employers from all over the country. Alas, none of these employers were in the North Texas area. And the engineer couldn’t leave the area. So the calls have stopped and the engineer stays unemployed.
But here’s what doesn’t follow. The article goes on to quote Senator Grassley and the engineer’s wife as saying that the engineer is out of work because of foreign nationals on H-1B visas. The fact that the engineer cannot go where the jobs are does not seem to be considered a factor. Leaping over barrels of facts to a conclusion that doesn’t follow from the facts, the fault is placed at the feet of foreign-born professionals who will go where the jobs are.
In those leapt-over barrels is the acknowledged fact that employers all over the country were beating down this engineer’s door. Why would they do that unless there are jobs available in some fields and employers wanting to fill them with U.S. workers who have the right skills? But these employers cannot pull up entire operations (and lay off their existing workforce) in order to move to the locale of a single person; the person needs to move to the job. If the person cannot move to the job because of a family obligation, that is to be respected.
But no one should blame “the foreigners” for it.
So we suggest to learn the facts about the H1B program before blaming hard working foreign workers.