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235,000 Software Engineers Can't Be Wrong, Right?

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the well-maybe-they-can-be-wrong dept.

The Almighty Buck 980

jgeelan writes "The Boston Globe has carried a report on how 235,000 engineers and computer scientistsl are calling on Congress to study the impact of the country's H1-B visa program, the recession, and the outsourcing of jobs overseas on the unemployment rate of engineers and other information technology professionals. It's an issue that's bubbling on discussion sites all over America too, though in one case developers (Java developers in this instance) seem completely unable to agree on whether H1-B is really a contributing factor or not."

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What a terrible choice to have to make. (2, Flamebait)

captain_craptacular (580116) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954078)

Feed your own?

Or deny another the opportunity to better their life by a huge order of magnitude?

Re:What a terrible choice to have to make. (1)

mike77 (519751) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954171)

What a terrible choice to have to make.
Feed your own?

terrible choice my foot! If it's them or us, I vote us.

Re:What a terrible choice to have to make. (2, Insightful)

brsett (169637) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954259)

Perhaps its an order of magnitude better, but by American standards, they are treated like endentured servants. Just because they come from poorer areas, is it okay to treat them worse than regular Americans. I would say the choice is, feed our own, or take advantage of and mistreat (by American standards) foreigners.

If your having a hard time deciding, let me say that you could simply lease slaves from the Sudan, certainly, it would improve their lifestyle, but is being a slaveholder ever ethical? (that's an anology, not a great one, but applicable).

Re:What a terrible choice to have to make. (2)

DeadPrez (129998) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954301)

The way I see it, these foreign engineers are indirectly hurting their home countries so the next generation will be stuck in the same crappy situation. Why not stay there, and use their talents to make their own country better, even if that only means technologically?

No matter how the H1-B visa situation pans out, America wins. Counties like India really shouldn't let their talent be stolen, but their loss...oh well.

deport these fuckers. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954080)

we don't need 'em here. let domestic talent pull its weight.

oh, and rape the women on their way out.

That's shameful (2, Flamebait)

sllort (442574) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954083)

So now that the economy sucks, and we have terrorism to cover our tracks, we're going to make a huge petition to throw a bunch of foreigners out of the country?

Mask it any way you want, but racism sucks.

Re:That's shameful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954108)

Dammit, but you have to be patriotic!

Remember all the people that died at the world trade centre!

Re:That's shameful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954214)

You must be a foreigner too! You wrote center as 'centre'! Get out of our country and God bless America!

Re:That's shameful (4, Insightful)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954130)

I don't think it's racism - I just think we need to reverse the trend of bringing in more and more people to do jobs that aren't there. Nobody is saying that we need to "throw anybody out", just limit the number of visas coming in. Remember when companies like Microsoft were bitching that there weren't enough tech workers in the U.S., so they had the number of visas increased?? Well, we don't need to keep that high number anymore. I didn't take that as a racist post at all.

Re:That's shameful (2, Insightful)

gosand (234100) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954131)

Mask it any way you want, but racism sucks.

Sorry, but that would be nationalism, not racism.

Re:That's shameful (1, Offtopic)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954198)

Sorry, but that would be nationalism, not racism.

It's a good thing that no atrocities or crimes against humanity have ever been committed in the name of nationalism!

Re:That's shameful (2)

gosand (234100) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954234)

I didn't comment on whether or not nationalism was right or wrong. The term should be used correctly at least.

They're not throwing people out... (3, Informative)

Jack_Frost (28997) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954136)

The article mentions tighter limits on the number of H1-B visas granted to foreign nationals. Current H1-B holders won't be "thrown out" at all.

Re:That's shameful (1, Offtopic)

tps12 (105590) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954142)

Well, I would agree with you if we were talking about McDonald's workers or cab drivers. But you have to recognize that technology in general, and software in particular, are increasingly vital to our national security and wellbeing.

The (very real, I should point out) threat of terrorism aside, I question whether someone of any race can really understand America if he has not grown up here and has no family here.

You know how you aren't really careful about spilling beer at your friend's house, but somehow you're really careful at home? It's the same with foreigners in a strange country: they just don't have the sense of belonging to really make them valuable additions to society.

Again, it's nothing to do with race, and they are welcome to work in our service and manufacturing industries (I am not one of these anti-migrant crazies), but in the highly sensitive information industry, I think we should stick to those people who have a stake in America's future.

What r u talking about d00d! (0)

LNXd00d (555045) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954208)

America depends on great software like Linux that is made in almost entirely foregn countrys (like Finland and the UK). American countrys like Micro$hit and Adobe make crappy software that doesnt compare to the like of Corel or Linux or GNOME, and their evil corporations to boot! I know I would rather use foregn software that I had the open source code to than any Micro$uck crap. Open source is the perfect cure against terrorism because igf a terrorist puts virii in your software then you can read the software and fix it urself! I dont see you being able to do that with Wind0ze LOL! America sucks and is the home of the DMCA and other legislation that takes away my rites. As long as the evil corporations control america the only innovations will be outside of the US.

Re:That's shameful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954219)

This is modded as a troll because... Why?

It's a valid point of view.

Moderators should have their names and scores attached to posts.

Re:That's shameful (1, Offtopic)

zaphod123 (219697) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954172)

How did the parent get modded insightful? This should be modded ignorant. This has nothing to do with racism.

Re:That's shameful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954196)

i fail to see how not issuing any more H1-Bs than already exist is the same as throwing "a bunch of foreigners out of the country."

Re:That's shameful (1)

1gig (102295) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954215)

Why do you think that this is racism? I have worked places where the job openings are specificly tailored to hire the visa holder over a local workers.

I personaly think if there is any racism going on it is the other way around. But companys are not really practicing racism they are practicing cheap labor and to an extent indentured labor at that. Once this cheap labor figures out that they should be getting more money their visa is not sponsered by the company next time it comes up. So they are stuck and either have to find someone that will sponser them or go home.

So I really think H1-B visas hurt both the foreigner and the local. The foreigner is exploted and the local can't get a job.

Re:That's shameful (1)

turman81 (204429) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954224)

I don't necessarily agree that it is racist, but I have always wondered why is it that in this country every time someone has a problem they look to the government to solve it. It used to be that the government was small and did very little, and at that time people made their own opporunities instead of relying on corporations and government to create opportunity for them. I think the US would be in much better shape if people would stop whining and stop doing.

Re:That's shameful (1)

turman81 (204429) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954265)

Excuse me, I meant "start doing". And perhaps I should start learning how to write.

Re:That's shameful (4, Funny)

DarkEdgeX (212110) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954231)

Yes, why argue the facts when you can "jump" to conclusions. Did you buy one of those mats that guy in Office Space invented and just use it prior to making this post? Because I think you did.

Re:That's shameful (1)

(startx) (37027) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954247)

how the hell did you get modded up? It's not "racism", it's the fact that people who were born here, rased here, and went to school here can't get a job because company's are importing cheap labor. I know 3 CS grads from this fall who still haven't found jobs not because they aren't smart enough (they all had > 3.5 GPA at a well respected school), but because their aren't jobs, and the ones that are here are being filled by people on visa's because they'll work for practically nothing. I'm scared to death that I'll live on the street or work at McD's in two years when I graduate just because it's "better for business" to import labor.

Yes, shameful. But who's being the racist? (5, Insightful)

nobodyman (90587) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954286)

So, who's being the racist here?

You paint these displaced american workers as the racists, but that's not accurate (in most cases). I do think that there's racism here, but it's on the part of large corporations who exploit foreign labor because they can get away with paying ridiculously low wages.

When I was a subcontractor for IBM, I worked on the same floor as IBM India. IBM sponsored provided H1B sponsorship so that the IBM India developers could work in the US. I was shocked to learn that while I was being billed out at $100/hour, my equally-trained, equally-capable counterparts were being billed out at $20/hour. Keep in mind that we were all taking home a *fraction* of what we were billed out for (I was getting around $25/hour, I shudder to think of what IBM India contractors were making). Sure, you could quit, but then you've lost your H1B visa and are deported. In essence, it was endentured servitude.

It all comes down to supply & demand. US Corporations are increasing the supply of IT professionals in order to drive down the wage they can commmand. However, they are doing this through questionable (if not downright unethical) means. You end up with one group of exploited developers, and another group of displaced developers.

slashdot is uberghey (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954088)

down with slashdot!!
down with your mom!!

trolling for klerck

another go-round (4, Informative)

Kwantus (34951) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954092)

Clearly time to trot out Dr Matloff again


there is no `tech boom', never was (not since 70s at least); it's a ploy to generate cheap labour, the H1-1 campaigns part of that

hold on a second (3, Interesting)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954105)

235,000 software engineers got together and slashdot didn't cover it? Who dropped the fucking ball here?!

IEEE-USA? Well bully for them! Did all 235,000 members send in their support or did a majority vote on this or did the publicity arm send this out on behalf of those people who are members?

Re:hold on a second (1)

catch23 (97972) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954178)

I won't comment on what exactly happened, but I think something does need to be done. Even though I do have a job as a Java software developer right now, it took me 4 months and applications to 130+ something companies. Only two of those 130 companies called me back just to say "Hello". Yeah, and one of those two is the company that I'm working at right now, but I think the software market is pretty sluggish right now and something needs to be done about it!!

Re:hold on a second (2)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954278)

I cannot disagree with you or IEEE-USA, what I'm upset about is that no one told me. So now instead of angrily going "rabble rabble" with everyone else, I have to send a snail mail that (thanks to Anthrax checking) won't hit Congress for another month or so.

Didn't Stallman say something like this would happ (3, Interesting)

Milo Fungus (232863) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954106)

Didn't Richard Stallman say that something like this would happen to the programming market as a result of free software taking over the world? What role has GNU/Linux played in this change?

Re:Didn't Stallman say something like this would h (2, Troll)

tps12 (105590) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954221)

Good call. I Googled [google.com] for it and found what you are talking about. Stallman's point was essentially that the glut of cheap foreign labor "has allowed American commercial software makers to make huge margins for years." He goes on and points out that, since "Free Software offers significantly less potential for profit...[Free Software's] adoption will mean the reclaiming of many of these jobs." That seems like a pretty interesting take on it. The whole article can be found here [gnu.org] .

Mod parent up!

Different filter needed (5, Insightful)

shaldannon (752) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954110)

Why don't we just make sure the competent folks get/keep their jobs instead of worrying about someone's country of origin? Heaven knows there are enough incompentent American programmers who are still employed....

Re:Different filter needed (5, Funny)

interiot (50685) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954288)

Most of whom are probably reading (or posting to) Slashdot right now... :)

Dont want us? (0)

slashclone (571895) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954117)

The dont get mad when we stop importing your coca-cola, cars, electronics and other shit. Lets your economy collape. You wanted globalisation you got it.

Re:Dont want us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954173)

Oh yeah, like you wogs really can afford to buy enough of that shit to matter to the US economy.
What a pathetic threat.

235,000 eh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954121)

How many are those are MCSE and Frontpage-weenies? To be honest, there are too many people who think they're competent but in reality don't know a lot about CS, heck I knew a guy who thinks you need a CS degree to code out websites, and he insists on using Adobe GoLive to do it.

And that doesn't apply to just the people from US, a lot of people I see just take CS and check out O'Reilly books to learn about the latest buzzword - HTML, PHP, Perl, Apache.

Yes, this comment is not insightful, it's just a troll.. mod away!!

Re:235,000 eh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954144)

Besides, everybody started taking CS because 18 year old Shawn Fanning could become a millionare by having a simple idea, the dotcom boom was the new gold rush, and the gold mine was Silicon Valley, USA. Well, that's over now, folks.

Re:235,000 eh? (1)

e2d2 (115622) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954280)

Why is it that as soon as some on mentions people that are layed off someone automagically ASSumes that those people are incompetent. I know plenty of competent developers that simply cannot find work because the market has gone to shit. So keep looking down your nose at them oh condescending one because you might ne next.

Are you gonna deny that this is an actual problem that needs to be addressed? Who do you feed first? The ones you are supposed to be protecting or others that are just as needy? Both are needy, both are hungry. You feed your own because that's what you've been appointed to do as a politician. No one said it was an easy choice but there's a lot more to it than just "the bottom line" of corporate profits. If the politicians don't keep their people happy then they get a big dose of reality in the form of an unemployed boot up their ass.

I think this is a good thing (1, Troll)

CrazyJim0 (324487) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954127)

Managers in America expect strict obedience and low pay rate, something alot of Americans aren't willing to give because its not in our culture.

Corporations import foreign labor and pay nothing for it, and the foreigner works just so he can be in America.

The pay rate for actual Americans can be lowered as a result, a pay rate so low that you can barely afford a refuge tent of your own. While the stockholders make millions.

Clinton sold us outRe:I think this is a good thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954174)

I remember when this first issue came
out and Clinton was saying that the US
had to protect the IT workers.

This was clearly a subtle shakedown of the
high tech capital, which donated big-time,
and Clinton signed on.

The major asset of a politician is the friends
he can betray; Then they call him a statesman.

How many decent jobs are there (5, Insightful)

scott1853 (194884) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954128)

I've perused the listings at monster and dice and most seem to be head hunters looking for somebody that is proficient in everything from ADA to VB or somebody with 3+ years of professional .NET experience or 10 years of Java. Could the problem be that the people doing the hiring don't even know what they want so they let positions go unfilled?

Re:How many decent jobs are there (2)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954186)

I've perused the listings at monster and dice and most seem to be head hunters looking for somebody that is proficient in everything from ADA to VB or somebody with 3+ years of professional .NET experience or 10 years of Java.

I know quite a few people with ten years of Java and several more with three years of dotNet, only thing is that I doubt that people who were on the core development team of either have a problem finding a job in any market.

Re:How many decent jobs are there (2)

Oliver Wendell Jones (158103) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954192)

Could the problem be that the people doing the hiring don't even know what they want so they let positions go unfilled?

In a word... Yes!

Re:How many decent jobs are there (1)

brsett (169637) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954212)

Close, they just make the listing outrageous in requirements, and then lowball the salary. E.g.

Wanted: Programmer with 10 years experience. C++, Cobol, Java, Solaris, AIX, MVS, Windows, 68K, assem, x86 assem, SICS assem. Knowledge of gui development, real time applications, assembly programming. Located near Silicon Valley. Salary, $35,000, contact amehta@intel.com

They stick that in the paper for 2 weeks, and when no one applies they open it up to h1-b's, never mind that the H1-b's don't meet the requirements, they'll work on the cheap while being sponsered for a green card. And the companies treat these guys like endentured servants, which they virtually are.

Re:How many decent jobs are there (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954235)

A long time ago, I went to a powerbuilder interview. The guy wanted somneone with 10 years experience. Powerbuilder had been out for 3 years.

I told him that, but he just said "I have a stack of resume's with people who have 10 years experience"
I said "You have people with 10 years of experience with a product thats been out 3 years?"

I just shooked my head and left.

Recent article (2)

crumbz (41803) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954134)

I just read an article in last months Scientific American decrying the falling rate that unversities are turning out scientists and engineers. The falloff over the next ten years will leave a tremendous shortfall in the US as compared to Europe or Asia. It looks like the IEEE-USA is trying to leverage it's membership for economic and/or political gain.

H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (2, Troll)

DaHat (247651) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954138)

Finaly this issue is being talked about. I have been out of work for over a year because I cannot find a single job. In part this problem has been caused by H1B's taking the jobs that I am going for, no this is not speculation, I have witnessed it several times. Maybe in time I will have better luck, but first this problem needs to be taken care of.

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (3, Insightful)

teetam (584150) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954194)

If you go to HotJobs.com or Dice.com you will hundreds of jobs even today that specifically exclude H1B visa holders!

H1 visa holders are easy targets, but the fact is, the Dept. of Labor verifies that a H1 worker is not replacing the job of an US citizen before approving the visa.

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954211)

May be you are less qualified?

Biggest racist load I have heard in a while..... (1)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954230)

Were these people more qualified what are your qualifications? Most Indians I know have at least a bachelors in EE or CS, if not degrees in both or Masters degrees. The average american computer type is lucky to have a bachelors. I hate to say this, but maybe your racists attitudes impede your finding employement.

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (2, Insightful)

StrutterX (181607) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954237)

I feel really sorry for you. A few skilled workers being imported into the country can NOT be doing you out of a job. No doubt you also blame career women who should be at home looking after children instead of taking a job you should have had.

If you have the skills you will be employed. If you have spent a year looking for work you either lack the skills for the job or the inter-personal skills that almost all jobs require. Based on your post I would surmise the latter.

The power to turn your life around is in your hands. Don't blame others - it won't help.


Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954246)

When this sort of thing happens in places like Germany, Americans are quickly to label the behavior racist, and point out that labour mobility makes everyone richer, not poorer.

If Americans can't find jobs, it is usually either because they are simply unqualified, or because their industry is not hiring. Think about that last point, because it goes both ways. It may suck to be a computer scientist these days, but few other industries saw college grads pulling down 100k shortly after graduation just a year or two ago for something as simple as running Apache.

Realistically though - when an industry association EVER pressure Congress to "open the floodgates"?

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (2, Insightful)

bugg (65930) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954248)

Except, as much as you may not like it, internatonal trade (labor, in this case) increases the quality of living on a macroeconomic scale for people of both countries. Countries offer cheap labor and in exchange they receive money; this money is then spent (differing marginal propensities to consume and whatnot).

Like it or not, it's basic macroeconomics- free trade benefits the economies of both countries involved. The people it hurts are those who cannot remain economically competitive.

Sour grapes... (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954251)

It is because the people that are interviewing you believe that the foreigners who get the job are so much better than you that they are worth the expense of hiring a H1B visa holder (it can be an expensive process).

American's need to remember that immigration is part of this country - in many ways - immigration is this country. The only people that suffer are those that can't compete - welcome to capitalism.

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (1)

sapped (208174) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954256)

Come on! I am an H1B holder and I cannot get a job because all the openings specifically exclude H1-B candidates.

Browse the jobs yourself if you don't believe me. 98% of them say "US Citizen or Green Card holders only"

I know you are not going to believe me, but there is a recession on and it affects everybody. Meanwhile, my country of origin sits with a 37% unemployment rate. Do you want me take my family there to starve? (There is no social security or anything like that there. You work or you die.)

Re:H1B's = Lack of Jobs for US Citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954302)

first this problem needs to be taken care of.

Seig Heil! Seig Heil!

anonymous vs. abstract (1)

mlamb (303474) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954141)

(from the java link in the posting):

"I have a job," states Lyons, "and have not changed jobs in the past 5 years. I'm a Sun Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform. I'm working for a very large development shop, have over 10 years coding experience, 5 years in Java/OO technologies, and yes I do know what an anonymous class is and when one would use it as opposed to in interface." [emphasis added]

Um... I think he's confusing anonymous and abstract classes, illustrating Avraamides' point quite well.

It's not a good situation (2, Interesting)

ilsie (227381) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954143)

Last week's paper version of EETimes had an article about the fact that 60% of EE/CompE/CS undergrads in the US today either flunk out or quit, which is a large reason that many companies are "outsourcing" to engineers coming from different countries these days. This is obviously a Catch-22 type situation, because within a university, the engineering college gets less of the yearly budget/alumni funds due to less engineering graduates, which possibly could have the effect of causing prospective college students to not want to attend that engineering college.

They're whining about 4.8-5.3% unemployment!?! (4, Interesting)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954153)

Sheesh! Any economist will tell you that frictional unemployment is 6%! What that means is if you have 100 workers and 100 jobs, at any given moment 6 of them will be unemployed (going to school, bumming around Europe, dropping a kid, "finding themselves", or just jerking off). Anything less than 6% indicates a shortage of workers!

Re:They're whining about 4.8-5.3% unemployment!?! (1)

emars (142040) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954220)

I'd wager that this number is much much much much higher for software engineers right now. Yeah, I can go get a job at wal-mart or maybe a waiter at Chilies, but I sure as shit can't find a software job anywhere.

there's a difference (1)

krog (25663) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954241)

These 4.8-5.3% of people aren't bumming around Europe, finding themselves, etc. They're applying for jobs left and right, and getting none. This is a real problem, because you have a hungry 5% instead of a lazy 5%.

Just look at the IT job situation and tell me it's not bad.

See it is kind of a good thing... (1)

Hacker'sEdict (593458) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954159)

If you think about it now the people with the more experience and the more qualified will be getting the jobs and that means that there will be higher quality products which means more people will buying the products and more sales, more money, more need of people to work and last of all back the start.. It is a vicious cycle.

Poor engineers? (2)

jsimon12 (207119) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954160)

Most of the people I know who count themselves as "unemployeed engineers" are people who wanted to make a quick buck on the tech-boom and got their MCSE or something of that ilk. With the exception of one "Real Engineer" I know all who have been laid off found jobs VERY quickly. Contrary to popular belief there is a good bit of hiring going on, lots of companies are getting bargins on the good ones that were laid off and leaving the bad apples behind.

Re:Poor engineers? (1)

catch23 (97972) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954277)

Unfortunately, there are still lots of very very qualified people out there that aren't getting jobs too. The majority of my friends who are EE, CmpE, or CS ended up going into graduate school because they couldn't find jobs for their major. And the majority of these people have an extremely sharp skill set from doing research for very well known professors and stuff... Of course they had no problems getting into graduate school with their marks, but finding a single interview from companies were a different story!

In addition, the last career fair (roughly 4 months ago) that I went to, most of the companies there were only looking for interns, not full-time employees. Dell Computer Corp wouldn't even look at my resume because they didn't have any job openings for full-time people, only temps!!

Re:Poor engineers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954282)


Immigration and overcapacity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954163)

I have trouble understanding the fervor over H-1Bs. If the price differential between domestic and overseas production is great enough to justify moving development abroad, then it will be done (just ask Levi's, a company that tried to keep its production domestic and almost tanked as a result). H-1Bs, on the other hand, provide a method of draining the best and the brightest from overseas, thus keeping at least the lion's share of the engineers' income in the States, and possibly giving them a chance to emigrate here permanently.

But, more importantly, the current flat market is the result of the credit expansion of the 1990s stock market accelerando, and the comcommitant malinvestment that gave us overcapacitated telecom firms and hardware manufacturers who are only slowly leaking jobs the sector can't possibly support. To blame our own economic failings on immigrant workers is the height of arrogance.

The incentive for companies to use overseas or immigrant labor has definitely abated, since there's a dearth of jobs in the IT market at the moment, thanks to the recent spate of layoffs. Employers can bid down wages to levels more befitting an economy working off the tail end of an Austrian business cycle.

- The Watchful Babbler

No need to throw H1 workers out (5, Insightful)

teetam (584150) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954164)

A couple of years ago, when the economy was strong, a bunch of companies (including MicroSoft) lobbied and increased the H1B limit to 200,000 per year (from 65,000). This led to a huge influx of H1 workers over the last few years.

Since last year, after the economic bust, most companies have stopped hiring H1 candidates. This is no secret. Go to any of the technical job sites and look at the job descriptions. Most of them are for citizens and permanent residents only.

Whatever the pains and problems citizens face today, H1B workers have it many times worse. Many of my former co-workers had to sell off their properties at ludicrously low prices and go back, since they go out of visa status as soon as they lost their jobs.

In bad times like these, we all feel the need to blame some group other than ourselves. CEOs, middle-easterners and H1B workers are the latest targets.

I think American citizens should get actively involved in reforming many areas of immigration, including H1B visas. But, please, let us not turn this issue into an opportunity for hate-mongering and racism. Thank you.

Re:No need to throw H1 workers out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954303)

Glad to see that there are still some sensible folks around.

How long... (1)

Papa Legba (192550) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954166)

Until someone raises the spector of a terrorist strike through foreign developed software? I've got ten dollars (or ten karma points if you want) that says that someone plays the terrorist card in this discussion within the next six months.

Argument will go that a terrorist group could setup shop as a programming house, underbid to develope $important_software or $important_hardware and then backdoor the hell out of it bringing America to it's knees within $speculative_time.

My company... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954175)

...outsources most development to Bulgaria. Let me tell you, those people are fucking retarded. Sure they're 1/4th the cost, but they take 10 times as long at half the quality. Christ.

Ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954176)

More than any other group on the planet, IT professionals are building the tools that enable globalization.

Furthermore, software developed in the United States is happily - and very successfully - exported to the rest of the world.

Can anybody provide a good argument as to why IT professionals shouldn't have to compete with their peers in other countries?

I am sure that many, many IT professionals have benefitted from the WTO breaking down walls to new export markets. Such gains are part of a two-way street.

There is one sure way for IT professionals to ensure their own success, and it's not having a government protect them from genuine competition. It's a global marketplace, so your location/country of origin shouldn't matter... just produce the best and most useful software, and produce it for markets that you have researched and know to exist. Don't rely on large employers to give you jobs; instead, innovate by starting your own ventures.

The problem with HB1 visas... (5, Insightful)

pyrrho (167252) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954177)

... is not the competition, you have to just deal with that. The problem is for the HB1 workers... it's practically indentured servitude. It's difficult to leave the company you are supposed to work for. The company gains a level of control over the persons personal life that is anathema to the basic freedoms modern workers should expect.

Re:The problem with HB1 visas... (1)

tps12 (105590) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954295)

Yes, I find this one of the scariest aspects of employing foreign workers. Like it or not, when someone experiences working in the stability and prosperity of America, they effectively become Americans in that they are now able to appreciate life in a developed society. Sending them back would amount to cruel and unusual punishment without due process (protected by the Fifth Amendment).

I think that if a person has worked for an American company for three years, then he should be permitted to stay here as a permanent resident. Otherwise, we are no better than the racist war-torn countries these people are coming from. :(

Re:The problem with HB1 visas... (2, Informative)

StrutterX (181607) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954296)

This is SO untrue. When you have an H1B you can easily hop jobs - all the new company needs to get is labor certification (that guarantees that there were no other suitable US national candidates).

I should know, I've done it three times already. The very fact that my first employers could not find a suitable candidate from US nationals means that I am desirable for other companies (I have a very rare skill set) - and that they too will find labor certification reasonably easy to get.


Unions? (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954187)

McManes said IEEE-USA wants companies to rely on foreign nationals only when they cannot find qualified US citizens to fill jobs.

If the workers want that, they can join unions, or some other form of collective bargaining. But the IT industry doesn't seem interested in such a method. How many techie unions do you know? As such, I'd say that techies are sad to be out of jobs, but not in the mind to force others to hire them.

I realize this is a group. But until I see techie unions, I won't be convinced that this is what they really want.

Actually...235,000 could be wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#3954229)

Yeah. It actually IS possible for 235,000 people to be wrong at the same time. I mean...sure...you'd think that if there are 235,000 simliar opinions there must be some kernel of truth underlying the position. That's a false assumption. If you unemployed programmers actually understood why 235,000 opinions are not logically sufficient to declare a proposition true, maybe you wouldn't be unemployed right now?

Ha ha!

Unconvinced (5, Insightful)

quantaman (517394) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954236)

their inability to find work even when they hold advanced degrees and are skilled in Java or C++, the programming languages most in demand.

What about those foreigners who hold advanced degrees and are skilled in Java or C++ and can't get work because their own countries are poor and lack industry and they arn't allowed to work in the US? They have just as much right to work as anyone else and they and the companies who hire them shouldn't be punished by protectionist policies. This is the same mentality that lead to exorbiant tariffs on BC lumber (causing massive unemployment and immense damage to BC's economy). Protectionism just doesn't work and all the US will do is harm an already hurting tech industry.

So typical (2)

locust (6639) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954244)

Yeah, blame it all on the forigners. If the bottom has fallen out of telecoms, kick a few hard working immigrants out of thier jobs. Thats much more convenient then retraining yourself, or taking a job thats below your (at this point very inflated) expectations. The fact is that people is software have been riding the gravy train for the last few years... and if you've got skills that are in demand, you're still on that train. It just that the skills you need are now broader than just C++/Java. You need domain knowledge, knowledge of good software engineering practice, etc, and you need to be able to prove you know what you're doing. At the hieght of dot com, anyone with a pulse who had read a 21 days book was being hired. The bar is much higher now.

The other thing to remeber is that proportionally just as many H1Bs have lost thier jobs, and they're in worse positions than the locals... In a lot of cases after they are let go, they have 10 days to leave the country.


H1B's are GOOD for America (5, Insightful)

sien (35268) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954249)

First, I'm on an H1B, so this of course has my bias.

Allowing a reasonable number of well trained foreigners into the US is a very smart idea. Just think about how much it costs the US government to educate a single citizen. People are a cost on society until they are at least 18. Via H1B programs you can get people that another country has paid for to come and contribute.

Foreigners have made considerable contributions to technology in the US. The Manhattan project team had large numbers of refugees in it. Important parts of the team that put man on the moon came from the German rocket program. Andy Grove and a number of other high tech pioneers came from outside the US. Bringing in foreigners is smart.

It probably does make some impact on salaries in the short term, but the benefit is that by getting bright people into the US it helps keep the US as the world's leading developer of technology. So I'd argue that the overall effect is positive on salaries. There are, of course, abuses, as there is in any scheme, but overall the program is a good idea.

It is interesting to note that a number of European countries, Germany especially, have picked up on the idea that H1B like visas are a good idea. I'm totally annoyed that my home country is notoriously difficult for educated people to emigrate to. Personally, it's one of the US's great strengths and more countries should behave in this way.

Finally, the US government even makes a profit on H1B processing. To get an H1B processed costs $1125. I've heard that the average processing time is in the order of fractions of an hour.

know what the answer is - FORM A FUCKING UNION (1, Flamebait)

EnderWiggnz (39214) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954261)

management has no interest in paying a respectible wage. they are interested in pay someone the lowest wage they can.

they dont care about you, they dont care about your family. they care about their own pocket. thats it.

the H1-B's are cheaper than you are. thats it. nothing about american spirit - they are taking food off of your table.

we need to band together. we've needed it for a while.

union. now.

If we limit the number of H1B's... (1)

gmajor (514414) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954270)

If companies can't get the inexpensive workers to come to them, then they will go the inexpensive workers. Basically, such companies will just open facilities in a foreign country full of relatively inexpensive labor.

H1B ?? hmm, i doubt that's the problem. (0)

bcc123 (550310) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954283)

- Why would a company hire a foreign worker ?
- Cause they agree to work for less pay.

Why don't you agree to work for less pay ??
- ... huh ?

There is a difference between not being able to find a job and not being able to find a job that pays more that it should.

P.S. Don't start with the qualification crap. I run a consulting firm that outsources development to Russia. No difference in skill level. There are good and bad programmers in every country.

Freedom for all? (0)

beaverfever (584714) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954284)

Once again I marvel at how the US stands for the ideals of fairness, justice and opportunity for all except when it comes to foreign countries or people from foreign countries.

This applies to everything from the issuing (or not issuing) of H1-Bs to the treatment of prisoners from Afghanistan to domestic trade subsidies and tariffs on foreign goods.

So much for the triumph of Democracy and Capitalism - maybe the old communists are having a good laugh at the US right about now?

Software will find cheap programmers to write it. (5, Insightful)

vkg (158234) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954285)

You either bring Adit over here on an H1B, or send the software to India to be written by his company in Bangalore.

Either way, it's supply and demand, chumpolas - the service economy runs on Mexicans and other south american immigrants, mostly illegal.

Why would software be any different?

It's a global market, folks - if you want to keep your jobs and their 80K salaries, you've got to be better at something than your international competition, just like a steel manufacturer or anybody else who competes in the global economy.

There is no H1B in Teamwork (2)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954287)

I find this interesting because, in the business world anyway, it seems that team skills are more important that actual programming ability. Ok, if you need an admin on some VAX box I can see how experience is necessary, but for development?

The general assumption of this (H1B == less jobs for citizens) is that one programmer is just as good as another.

And that isn't the case. Compotence and teamwork always a good employee make. I don't know a dev group that thinks otherwise. And it isn't like there is an equal opportunity thing here (where it is necessary to consider foreigners).

OTOH finding the "cheapest programmer, period" to fill a developer slot might also explain the crappy code out there. If it is I think I'm gonna start a contracting firm that trains monkeys to pound on keyboards and to dress in business casual.

Manager: "We need this product to ship by the end of the third quarter!"
Monkey: "Ahhh! Ahhh! AHHHH!"
Manager: "Hmmm, good point. [Turns to phone] HR! Get me 100 more monkeys! Stat!"

man what a load of crap (2)

lingqi (577227) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954298)

there are good reasons why people are not hiring: maybe the ECONOMY IS DOWN?

i mean -- let's think about this for a bit. the economy wasn't nearly recovered (companies have no money) and now the scandals from worldcom / enron (means all the execs are right now tighter than amish when comes to spending for capital equip and human resources) -- and you wonder why people are not hiring?

unless i missed something -- the unemployment rates does not track the difference between unemployed citizens and non-citizens -- i know plenty of former H1B people who are out of a job right now. moreover -- non-citizens who are out of a job for a long time leaves the country -- so i would not trust the statistics *anyway*.

lastly... I know this will draw flames from hell -- but have anyone considered that maybe H1B holders actually got better grades in school? There are so many people who think that college is just a place to have fun, drink beer, blah blah, and 2.5 is an acceptable GPA. well -- for most forigner students, unless you get 3.0 / 3.5, your scholarship gets cut and you can't pay for your schooling cuz you have no work permit. so it is quite often that forign students gets better grades than domestic students because they have no choice. if you were an employer, say both are "qualified" but one has a 1/2 point GPA advantage in core curriculum, who are you goint to choose?

this is a classic "i want to blame all my problems on other people" syndrom. quite discusting stuff. even more so that IEEE is supporting this sh*t.

Myths about H1B visa holders (4, Informative)

teetam (584150) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954300)

As I peruse the replies to this post, I see a lot of misrepresentations and uninformed generalizations. Below, I try to address some of these:

  1. H1B workers are paid lower salaries than citizens - This is mostly true. However, hiring a H1 candidate results in additional costs like INS fees and immigration lawyer fees. Adding all these up, there is not too much of a saving by hiring a H1 candidate. It is illegal to pay an H1 candidate a lower pay than a similarly qualified citizen. Even if this were true, who is this more unfair towards - the H1 worker or the citizen? Think about it.
  2. Given a choice between a H1 worker and a citizen, companies prefer the former - Today's software engineering cycles are very short, lasting only a few months. Given that H1 approval by itself takes months (including paperwork and INS wait time), no logical person will prefer a H1 candidate to a local worker. It is only when a locally qualified person is hard to find, that companies are willing to wait and get a H1 worker.

In short, legally and logically, it would be a very rare case where a local worker would lose his job to a H1 worker. H1 workers are hired only if the companies involved are not able to find qualified local candidates.

The job shortages in today's market is due to the prevailing bad economic climate. Let us not try to find scapegoats.

H1B only when there are no US workers available (2)

Leto2 (113578) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954304)

From the article:

McManes said IEEE-USA wants companies to rely on foreign nationals only when they cannot find qualified US citizens to fill jobs.

But wait! Isn't that already the law for H1B right now? My own H1B application went to great lengths to explain to the Dept of Labor that I was going to fulfill a jobposition that my company could not find an American worker for. Hence, I'm not grabbing anyone else's job.

The article already states that the number of H1B visas is down to something like 60k already, because companies can fill all job positions with US workers.

If this results in difficulties for extending my legitimite H1B next year, I'll be pissed. Let me prepare my cancellation of my IEEE membership...


CascaLonginus101 (591495) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954306)

we own this country, it is ours, and all the benefits of ownership/citizenship should go to us citizens, and not foreigners.

If only the UK would do the same... (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 10 years ago | (#3954308)

The large companies are apparently lobbying governments again about the shortage of skills, and how employing from overseas is the only way to make up the shortfall, whilst statistics show that ~45% of IT consultants, people in the industry etc are currently unemployed.

Ironically, careers advisers are suggesting that we look abroad for work!! :)
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