By Melissa Caen

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Controversial new ads are popping up in the Bay Area denouncing a program that allows tech companies to bring in foreign workers, an issue that’s becoming a flashpoint in the immigration debate.

The signs went up over the weekend at the Civic Center BART station and the 19th Street Oakland BART station. In addition, there are 200 signs on the BART train cars.

The signs read: “U.S tech workers, your companies think you are expensive, undeserving and expendable. Congress, fix H-1B laws so companies must seek and hire U.S. workers.”

It’s all to protest the current H-1B visa system that allows employers to bring in about 65,000 foreign workers every year.

Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “anti-immigrant,” paid $80,000 for the signs. PFIR Executive Director Kevin Lynn disputes that designation, and says his group simply wants regulations for a H-1B visa program that he says is broken.

“Going back to 1990, the idea was to attract, it was called the genius visa at the time,” said Lynn. “And when you see who is coming over, these folks are really quite ordinary in many ways. Twenty-six percent have only an associate’s degree.”

Lynn said employers are using the program to bring in foreign labor because it’s cheaper. 60 Minutes interviewed a group of Americans who were fired and replaced by H-1B visa workers.

“Never in my life did I imagine until this happened at Disney that I could be sitting at my desk and somebody would be flown in from another country … sit at my same desk and chair and take over what I was doing,” displaced worker Leo Perrero told 60 Minutes.

“It was the most humiliating and demoralizing thing I’ve ever gone through in my life.”

Flynn’s group wants new laws making it harder for employers to bring in workers from other countries. He said the problem is that Republicans and Democrats both like the current system.

“One side responds to the chambers of commerce and their need for a highly exploitable labor force. And the other side responds to the ethnic lobbies that want the doors held open for more of their own, in the hopes of building the ranks of a certain political party,” said Lynn.

One other group that likes the visas: tech companies. When the president suspended a program to expedite the visas, Silicon Valley felt attacked

Russell Hancock, President & CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley said in 2017: “Silicon Valley is mostly people who are not from Silicon Valley. They’re from other parts of the world. 50 percent of our population is coming from some other place in the workforce so when you shut that down you shut down Silicon Valley.”

Lynn said when the new signs went up, his phone went off. “At least 10 people reach out to me today to tell their stories of how they have been dislocated by workers who have been brought in,” said Lynn.

The signs will stay up until April 1, that’s the day when applications for the H-1B visas begin.

 

Comments (9)
  1. Gotz to silence any opinion you dont like.

  2. Joe Smith says:

    There’s nothing controversial about those ads. They are very truthful.

  3. Silicon Valley is misusing the H1-B and other visa programs to import cheap foreign labor at the expense of American workers. Enough is enough.

  4. Thank you Kevin and Progressives for Immigration Group for all your help and support for all all the Americans whose lived are devastated by these cheap foreigners. There should be an end sometime….. this is the time. H1B’s are getting tougher to be approved… we can see the answers for your hard work. Please keep it up!!

  5. Allen Rogers says:

    We need to greatly reduce the number of illegal aliens working here and decrease the number of H1-B visa holders. Both of these actions would free up jobs for US Citizens and LEGAL immigrants. Many of the H1-B visa requests were from dishonest employers looking to undercut current wages to save money. Just look at Disney and others who hired H1-B visa holders from India and China, then FIRED the people who were already holding those jobs. It is an outrage that these dishonest companies can get away with these lies and deception.
    A friend owns an electrical contracting business. He employs about eight people. He payed his employees, about $30-35 per hour, pays the Federal taxes, benefits, etc. He recently lost a bid job to a dishonest contractor who was using illegal aliens, NOT paying the required taxes and NOT paying benefits. At $10/hr and no benefits or taxes, the corrupt contractor enjoys a savings of about $64,000 per electrician per year. The building owner called about two months later and asked him to straighten out the mess left by the original contractor. Not only was he using unlicensed electricians, but they used the wrong materials, and installed them in an unsafe manner. The owner was fortunate he was sharp enough to realize something was amiss and get it corrected before the safety of his building & occupants was put in jeopardy.
    Another neighbors is a carpenter working in construction & remodeling. His boss does the right thing, paying the going rate (about $18/hr), paying taxes and benefits, & has had to lay off part of his work force because of unfair competition from corrupt contractors who only pay $8/hr, NO taxes, NO benefits, etc. An acquaintance has a son in the drywall business who has lost his job, again for the same reasons.
    During my summer conversations, a man in my neighborhood told me that three years ago he was making $80,000 a year driving trucks, but would be lucky to make $40,000 in 2007, because some trucking companies were hiring illegal alien drivers.

  6. James Bowen says:

    The H-1B visa needs to be abolished. It is all about replacing Americans with cheap foreign labor.

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