Oral Testimony of Gene A. Nelson, Ph.D. regarding U.S. High Tech workforce

Oral Testimony of Gene A. Nelson, Ph.D. regarding U.S. High Tech workforce needs and H-1B Visas, Hearing of the Immigration and Claims Subcommittee, August 5, 1999 

Summary of Dr. Nelson's background and work experiences.

Contrast of claims: Immigrant economist George Borjas, Ph.D. and Sen. Phil Gramm, Ph.D.

There is a shortage of jobs, not a shortage of scientists and engineers. Unionization?

The U.S. government is failing to receive the anticipated return on its educational investments. Premature "obsolescence" benefits colleges and universities at the expense of most of their alumni.

Harms of H-1B visa program to the nation's security.

Suggested next steps.

1. This testimony is dedicated to the memory of 40 year old Ed Curry, who he testified with in Congress in July, 1998 against the H-1B program. Ed died of a stress - induced stroke on March 24, 1999, leaving his widow, Cindy Curry and three children.

47 year old Dr. Nelson earned his bachelor's degree in biophysics in 1973 from Harvey Mudd College after winning a prize at the 1969 International Science Fair. He earned his Ph.D. in biophysics in 1984 from SUNY - Buffalo. He has worked for NASA - JPL. For three years, he worked to obtain startup capital to establish his own software business, applying pen - based computers to healthcare. Since 1980, he has been active in the area of science and public policy. As he approached age 40, he was informed by prospective employers that he was "overqualified," which he has learned is thinly - disguised age discrimination. Since being in a JTPA Title III retraining program in 1995 which taught him to lower his professional expectations in order to be employed, he has held four telephone technical support positions. Since earning his doctorate, his position has been eliminated at eight different employers. He has just started a one - year client - server technology training program with a "risk sharing" component (a potential $15,000 liability.) For about the past five years, he has lived a precarious economic existence. Presently, he has no health insurance and drives a 1983 car with 220,000 miles on it.

2. Immigrant Harvard economist George Borjas, Ph.D. was profiled in an article in the Wall Street Journal on April 26, 1996. Quoting from the article, "In another study, he calculates that native workers lose $133 billion a year in lower salaries because of immigrant competition; employers pocket the money, and then some, as reduced expenses. Unskilled natives suffer the most. More than 1/3 of the widening wage gap between high - school dropouts and more educated workers is because of competition from immigration, he estimates. According to the Borjas view, immigration is akin to busing: a grand social experiment whose costs are borne by working - class families who don't find the experiment so grand."Contrast Borjas's empirical studies with a 6/1/99 press release from Sen. Phil Gramm, Ph.D. of Texas "Gramm's 'New workers for Economic Growth Act' would increase the number of special, temporary visas, known as H1-B visas. Those visas are set aside for the highly-educated workers who are needed to help keep Texas' technology edge. Industry experts say that even in a booming economy, Texas could risk a slowdown because we lack the skilled professionals who are needed in high-tech fields. Senator Gramm's measure would help meet that need and encourage continued expansion of the high-tech sector." A Senate Bill has emerged from committee with similar House bills. All these bills are riddled with the false claims of "experts" in the public and private sectors. Texas ITAA member firms continue to announce large workforce reductions. Compaq Computer eliminated 17,000 when it acquired DEC in 1998. Compaq just announced up to 8,000 more. EDS is slashing 8,000+ in an early retirement program. According to the Conference Board, help wanted ads continued their decline after the H-1B cap was raised in 1998. H-1B non-immigrants cannot legally work on or become knowledgeable of advanced technology. (DoC "Deemed Export Rule" EAR 734.2b) Employers continue to flout legislation that is a barrier to management profitability.

3. A large portion of the 50 pages of attached written testimony documents the profound U.S. scientist and engineer glut. All science and engineering degree holders have in - depth Information Technology (IT) background, since IT is an integral foundation for those disciplines. For example, there are about 13 million Americans who work in science or engineering or have earned at least a bachelor's degree in science or engineering since 1960. According to the 1995 NSF SESTAT surveys, only about of them, or 3.83 million have science or engineering jobs. These gluts exist at all degree levels, and have existed since at least the late 1960s. Observers note that employer age discrimination has re - energized unionization drives.

4. The artificially shortened careers of scientists and engineers result in diminished incomes, hence diminished Federal tax revenues, and higher welfare costs. Callous college and university administrators have coldly noted that if an IT professional could become "obsolete" as a consequence of gluts after being in a IT career for say 12 years, rather than 50 years, demand for educational services would be quadrupled. (Too bad this harms most of their alumni.) Higher education funding consumes 2.5% of the U.S. GDP [$175 billion/year] according to a May 31, 1999 article by Peter Brimelow in Forbes. The Federal government provides a large part of this sum directly or indirectly. "Supply and demand don't match because supply is subsidized. Only a third (32.3%) of science and engineering grad students are self - supported." Professor Norman tools in a large number of disciplines. They are intelligent people who will learn rather quickly that they are being economically exploited, (especially with conditions of indentured servitude under the H-1B program) Foreign nationals like Nidal Ayaad, Ramzi Yousef, etc. who were the 1993 World Trade Center bombers demonstrated their anger about being exploited. Stephen Garrett Colborne, was Timothy McVeigh's "R&D Department" for the Oklahoma City bombing. Stephen was an out - of - work UCLA biochemist who felt alienated and had relocated to Kingman, Arizona where he met "Tim Tuttle" (McVeigh's pseudonym) in 1994. Stephen taught McVeigh about the stochiometry of ammonium nitrate - fuel oil mixtures - and grinding up the ammonium nitrate.

It is likely to be eventually disclosed how Wen Ho Lee, Ph.D. aided the People's Republic of China's (PRC's) nuclear program from 1978 - 1999. Downloading the legacy codes of the entire U.S. nuclear stockpile onto a nonsecure computer on a network was a dangerous act. From 1985 - 1997 Peter Lee, Ph.D.'s shared information regarding anti submarine warfare and (nuclear weapon) hohlraum construction. (Peter is no relation to Wen Ho Lee) Peter pled guilty to assisting the PRC by providing classified materials to them. According to Associated Press, a Chinese programmer at Wright - Patterson Air Force Base, Steven Liu, was sentenced to a halfway house for six months for gaining access to a military computer that tracks the combat readiness of Air Force aircraft and missile systems. The computer intrusion article was from December 15, 1997 and the sentencing article was on May 22, 1998.

There is a substantial security risk associated with the H-1B program. Department of Defense contractors are selecting foreign nationals for R&D work because they offer a short - term cost advantage. According to the FBI, Asian "Triads" (organized criminal organizations) have become very active as "snakeheads" - they smuggle Asians into the U.S. Later, those immigrants are vulnerable to extortion by the Triads. This process places considerable public and private sector intellectual property at risk. It is plausible to expect that these Asian immigrants will be asked to perform "intelligence gathering" against both private sector employers - or as university employees against a variety of targets.

The kind of "more bang for our buck" that the U.S. will receive will not insure the American way of life for our children.

It is clear that our counterintelligence community is being overwhelmed by the huge increases in S&E immigration. Per the GAO, the 1996 counterintelligence allocation was only $111/year/ Russian or Chinese scientist or engineer at Los Alamos. There is a need for a $5K/foreign scientist or engineer "user fee" to be paid by all employers, including colleges, to the FBI to protect both firms and the government. In addition, there needs to be a mechanism to insure that this user fee is actually being paid by the employer, rather than being paid by the foreign national.