Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Off Topic: Lawyers in a how-to video: as in how to avoid hiring an American

Watch this video and keep it in mind the next time you hear a high-tech industry titan such as Bill Gates complain that he simply cannot find qualified American employees and therefore the country needs more H-1B visas: You'll see a panel discussion that looks like a sit-down with "the families" on The Sopranos, only instead of talking about organized crime these lawyers are discussing the ins and outs of helping employers side-step immigration law. The discussion particularly galls me as I've experienced this type of side-stepping in my career.

The objective, says Lawrence Lebowitz, vice president of marketing at Cohen & Grigsby, couldn't be more straightforward.

"Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified U.S. worker ... our objective is to get this person a green card," Lebowitz tells his audience.

And how does an employer go about doing that in light of the legal obligation to first search for a qualified American? It's all about where you search, he says.

"Clearly we are not going to find a place where the applicants are most numerous, we're going to find a place where - again we're complying with the law - and hoping and likely not to find qualified worker applicants," Lebowitz says.

And if despite looking in all the wrong places a gem of an American candidate pops up anyway?

"If someone looks like they are very qualified, if necessary schedule an interview; go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them," he says.

That's just a taste; there are lots more.

Lebowitz prefaced that first remark - the one about the objective being "not to find a qualified U.S. worker" - by saying, "this may sound funny."

Don't know about anyone else, but I didn't even crack a smile. It doesn't sound funny. It sounds like it ought to be illegal. At the very least, it sounds like Congress should be tightening the screws on current law before increasing the number of H-1Bs.

Update: Lou Dobbs on CNN picks up on this story:

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