Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Closing In.

I was wondering when we're going to start hearing more about the H1B restrictions that were placed on institutions getting TARP money (that I wrote about here) and today I saw this deeply troubling article.    Few interesting bits:

The legislation doesn't apply to current employees of Wells [Fargo] and other TARP recipients who need to have their existing H-1B visas renewed. However, Wells is letting those visas expire anyway, according to a copy of an internal email sent to some of its foreign employees on March 20 from the bank's human resources department.

This contrasts with Goldman Sachs, another TARP recipient, which is renewing existing H-1B visas and continues to offer jobs to foreign workers who need new temporary visas to join the investment bank. "We will make offers to the best people regardless of where they live," said Ed Canaday, a Goldman spokesman.

Bank of America pulled job offers for more than 50 foreign students who would have needed H-1B visas to join the bank.

First of all, go Goldman.  As evil banking empires go, they are right up there along with everyone else and I always viewed their "emphasis on people" with heavy doses of skepticism.  But I guess they mean it, and how rightly so.  The Bank of America case is so disturbing and I can't imagine what I would do if after years of studying and multiple rounds of interviewing I would have my offer rescinded so that someone else, who was considered a worse applicant in the first place, can fill my spot.  Granted, the next best 50 are probably not complete idiots.  And one could (and many would) argue that a first year analyst in banking is a generic commodity.  What college graduate with some amount of training can't crunch some numbers and do a decent job?  

Indeed, the problem is not that this will lead to a massive deterioration of the talent pool in our investment banks (if only because the best of the best can still get an offer from Goldman).  The real problem is twofold:  first, there are areas where the foreign talent is much more irreplaceable (I'd like to say IT, but that could only be because I don't know anything about IT and I'm stereotyping .. and besides, maybe smart IT is what got us into this mess in the first place? Though the dude in question was American, so there!  But I digress ..).  

Second, bringing highly qualified immigrants to this (or any) country by means of employment is by far the easiest and most natural way to replenish the diversity of this country and anything to close that path, as tempting as it may be during a recession, is just not desirable.  I realize that I am making an assertion here that deserves a bit more argumentation; but if you need one, here's a pragmatic argument in favor of immigration.  

Lastly, one technical note on the article, specifically regarding this pearl of wisdom:

With unemployment surging, there's no need for companies to hire foreign guest workers through the H-1B program when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in February. Grassley sponsored the amendment to the stimulus bill that made it harder for TARP recipients to hire overseas workers on H-1B visas. "Our common-sense amendment simply ensures that recipients of American taxpayer money make American workers their first priority," he added.

This common-sense only makes any sense if you believe that American taxpayor money is only money paid by American workers.  However, seeing that some 50% of my income gets rerouted biweekly to the United States trasury, New York State and New York City, I beg to differ.  Yes, foreigners pay taxes, too, and by design (they have to earn more than the going market rate to justify their H1B status)  they actually pay more in taxes that the average American.  So unless someone wants to exempt me from contributing to the $1 trillion bailout of the US banking industry and to the $800 billion stimulus ($11,000 per person, thank you very much) or exempt me from paying Federal taxes (a much much higher amount), don't tell me that I am somehow a lesser priority than a US citizen.  

No comments:

Post a Comment