There was good news for Cisco investors last week when the company reported earnings of 70 cents per share, which led to shares rising more than 6 percent. The news is not so good, however, if you happen to be an American looking to work at the networking hardware firm.
According to Bloomberg Law, a Department of Labor (DOL) investigation just concluded that Cisco has been passing on native-born workers in favor of foreigners holding work visas. During a routine audit required for all government contractors, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs reportedly found evidence the firm had been securing visas for foreign workers (whom they paid at a lower rate), rather than hiring U.S. citizens for certain jobs.
While Cisco has denied some of the allegations, it is noteworthy that almost exactly one year ago Cisco’s Executive Chairman John Chambers was confessing to reporters at a conference in India that it was a “mistake” to use H-1B visas to replace American workers.
“We have to be careful not to misstep. You cannot go in and take a whole bunch of H1-B visas and displace 500 American workers because you can do it at lower costs. That was just a mistake. I think we have to focus on investment,” said Chambers, who also is the head of the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF).
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data show Cisco had 1,587 new and renewed H-1B visa holders in 2017, with an average salary of $128,389.
The company ranks 29 among all visa sponsors and is among a growing number of Silicon Valley companies that are gobbling up visa applications from Indian outsourcing companies who have been affected by Trump administration immigration policies.
And they are hiring for higher-paying jobs too. For example, foreigners who work for Apple Computers earn an average annual salary of $139,000, Google ($132,000), Microsoft ($126,000), Cisco ($121,000) and Amazon ($115,000).
So are these companies who proclaim to be socially-conscious getting the best bang for their (less than a) buck?
According to Norm Matloff, a professor at the University of California at Davis, they are not and are harming the nation in the process. According to his and others’ research, Matloff found that on a per capita basis, “the former foreign students in computer science file fewer patents, are less likely to work in research and development and have degrees from less selective U.S. universities.”
Essentially, he continues, “this amounts to replacing stronger people with weaker ones in science, technology, engineering and mathematics — the STEM fields. The harm this brings to our economy, our ability to innovate and our general national interest is immense.”
The heads of Facebook, Twitter and Google head back to Capitol Hill to discuss Russian meddling in the elections. Maybe Congress ought to ask them about their overuse of H-1B visas and how they are undermining the American worker – while they have them under oath.