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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Immigration

H-1B visa unthinkable in Canada

The H-1B is a temporary-work visa. It was never intended to serve as a path to citizenship. The H-1B program short-circuits our labor market for high-tech workers, suppressing wages, hurting job security for domestic workers and discouraging students from entering high-tech occupations.

Some H-1B workers are the best and brightest. However, the great majority are normal, hardworking, well-meaning workers who take predominantly entry-level positions at or below entry-level wages. Many require training from the domestic workers they displace from the work force.

Recently, I spoke to a Canadian consulate officer about Canadian policies for high-tech immigrants. He said a government agency verifies a labor shortage and sets the prevailing wages that must be paid. Our system, where the employer runs a continuous PR campaign over decades claiming labor shortage and the employer sets the prevailing wage, would be unthinkable in Canada.

I asked him what was different about Canada that their policy had these simple, built-in

protections for Canadian workers? He acknowledged that Canada had a stronger sense of social contract.

I remember when our public policy was designed to raise the standard of living of families in our communities.

— Stan Sorscher, Seattle

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