No, Foreign Workers Are Not “Saving Jobs” During the Pandemic



If the claim sounds illogical, that’s because it is. In one of their most desperate attempts yet to promote mass immigration during a time of unprecedented employment, some in the open borders lobby are now claiming that temporary foreign workers are actually saving the American economy and, somehow, reducing the unemployment rate.

According to economist and mass immigration advocate David Henderson, “Skilled immigrants helped save our butts” during the COVID-19 pandemic. He suggested – without evidence – that the tech industry would have failed to manage the sudden increased demand for “work from home” technology if it wasn’t for foreign workers. Henderson also claimed that if corporations didn’t have the option to hire H-1B visa applicants, “it could take time to find a non-immigrant, and the non-immigrant might not be quite as good in the job.”

Open-borders proponent Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute also added to this false narrative by claiming that without temporary labor “computer science employment in the United States would have been 3.8 percent to 9 percent lower…”

However, corporations aren’t turning to foreign workers because they face a shortage of skilled labor in the United States. They are doing so because they don’t want to pay American citizens a fair market wage when they could opt for foreigner employees that could face removal from the country if they ever pushed for better pay. Nowrasteh even admits in his same article that “wages for computer scientists would have been 3–4 percent higher” if companies weren’t opting for migrant workers. And that estimate is almost certainly on the low end of reality.

In an eye-opening Twitter thread published just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, Michelle Malkin aggregated a multitude of news articles exposing dozens of corporations that recently fired a cumulative total of more than 10,000 tech employees. Most of these corporations did so while simultaneously hiring foreign workers for similar work. One notable example, Cisco, recently laid off nearly 500 tech employees almost immediately after applying for 691 H-1B visas, almost all of which were approved.

Uber, Walgreens, Macy’s, Expedia, Tripadvisor, LogMeIn, Intel, and other large corporations also took part in the firing spree. And again, many of them, such as Uber, did so while simultaneously increasing their number of H-1B visa applications.

So, there was already a surplus of tech talent to choose from in the United States, and the COVID-19 pandemic has added tens of thousands more to the job market. To suggest that “it could take time to find a non-immigrant,” or that “computer science employment would be lower” without temporary laborers is simply false.

The United States has many of the best tech schools and training centers in the world. It’s a shame that, instead of investing in our own talent, many corporations have opted for cheaper labor from foreign countries. Equally shameful is the fact that open borders proponents continue to call for more foreign labor during a time when millions of Americans, including tens of thousands of tech workers, are looking for gainful employment.

About Author

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Spencer joined the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in 2015. He conducts research, and writes content for FAIR’s publications and website. He brings previous experience in state politics, gubernatorial and district campaigns, and D.C. political non-profits. Spencer holds a B.A. in Government from the University of Texas at Austin.