CAPS — “I finally got to the point,” said Craig Diangelo, “where I am tired of hiding in the shadows.” These days when someone says something like this, the common assumption is that he is an illegal immigrant. According to the common media narrative, foreigners who live here illegally commonly dwell “in the shadows” so as not to get caught and deported. This phrase has gained currency, even though it hardly fits the reality of illegal aliens so commonly coming out in broad daylight to demand their “rights.”
In any case, Diangelo is not an illegal immigrant. In fact, he is an American citizen and an information technology (IT) professional who has broken no laws at all. If anything, he is a victim of willful disregard of legal procedures.
The story began two years ago when Diangelo’s employer, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource), decided to lay off 200 of their workers – including him – and replace them with foreign workers admitted under the H-1B temporary visa program. Diangelo and the others had to train their replacements before leaving.
Is there something not right about this picture? Indeed there is. Federal rules bar employers from hiring these visa holders unless they have “a body of specialized knowledge” not likely to be found in the U.S. labor market. The rules further stipulate that H-1B hiring should not depress wages nor “adversely affect the working conditions” of American workers.
In recent years, tech companies have demanded that Congress increase the ceiling for H-1B admissions because they claim they can’t find enough qualified Americans to work for them. But nearly conclusive evidence shows there is no shortage of qualified Americans, and part of that evidence is what Northeast Utilities and a significant number of other companies have done.