Hill legislators are pushing a bill that would put roughly 70,000 Chinese visa workers on a fast track to green cards, even as White House officials are trying to slow the theft of U.S. technology by Chinese employees and researchers.
White House officials are using trade talks to change Chinese “behaviors so they don’t steal our technology by infiltrating people into companies and into even national laboratory,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said May 1. A leading goal is “changing the practice so they don’t force technology transfer,” when U.S. companies invest in China, he said in a talk at the annual CPAC meeting.
Ross’s push is backed by Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is the new chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. “How many are worried about Chinese espionage?” Graham asked conservatives attending the CPAC conference on February 28. “How many are worried about Chinese students and professors coming to American to basically steal our stuff?”
“Because I’m chairman, we’re going to take that up,” he said.
The pressure from President Donald Trump seems to be forcing the Chinese government to make concessions in a new law, according to a March 3 report by the Associated Press:
“I think the (American and European) complaints have been reflected in the revision of the law,” said Citigroup economist Li-Gang Liu.
Under the proposed law, officials would be barred from using “administrative methods to force technology transfers.”
The chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, Tim Stratford, called the measure a “step forward.” But business groups say they need to see how it will be enforced.
But any diplomatic progress, however, may be dissipated by the many U.S. companies who want to make deals with the Chinese government and who also want to hire Chinese students and researchers for work in the United States.
In February, legislators in the House and Senate announced legislation that would help Chinese students get jobs in the nation’s research laboratories and high-tech companies.
Almost 200 House legislators and 13 Senators introduced legislation that would push roughly 70,000 Chinese visa workers onto a fast track to green cards and citizenship. The boost for Chinese researchers is a side effect of the legislators’ primary goal — helping roughly 300,000 cheap Indian visa workers get on a fast track to green cards, residency, and citizenship.
Most of the Indian workers work in the information technology business, often as software testers or as operators of corporate computer networks.
Many of the Chinese visa workers already hold jobs in U.S software and telecommunications firms, in banks, and in government-funded laboratories that are developing novel technologies, medicines, and materials. Many thousands of Chinese researchers have already obtained green cards or citizenship from their employers in universities, in Silicon Valley, and in the financial sector.
This inflow of Chinese workers denies good jobs to American college graduates, many of whom must pay off college debts as they try to buy homes and raise families.
Even when asked about technology theft, U.S. companies and universities defend the inflow of Chinese students, researchers, and cheap H-1B visa workers. In May 2018, for example, the Washington Post reported:
Dean Garfield, chief executive of the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and other companies, said its members are alarmed at reports the White House is considering a ban on Chinese citizens conducting high-tech research at American universities and businesses.
The firms rely on skilled foreign labor to develop new products, Garfield said.
“We’ve heard from many, if not all, of our members,” he said, “that steps to limit access to talent have a direct negative impact on their ability to run their businesses.”
The danger of national security espionage and commercial technology theft has been repeatedly highlighted by numerous media reports.
In May 2018, the New York Times reported:
WASHINGTON — It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: In April, China is said to have tested an invisibility cloak that would allow ordinary fighter jets to suddenly vanish from radar screens.
This advancement, which could prove to be a critical intelligence breakthrough, is one that American officials fear China may have gained in part from a Chinese researcher who roused suspicions while working on a similar technology at a Duke University laboratory in 2008. The researcher, who was investigated by the F.B.I. but never charged with a crime, ultimately returned to China, became a billionaire and opened a thriving research institute that worked on some projects related to those he studied at Duke.
In 2016, according to the Free Beacon website:
Su Bin, also known as Stephen Su and Stephen Subin, reached a plea deal in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday, following a 2014 criminal complaint and later indictment for illegal computer hacking and theft and transfer of export-controlled data.
The plea deal includes an admission by Su of conspiring with two people in China from October 2008 to March 2014 who broke into U.S. computer networks at Boeing and other defense companies.
The hackers stole large amounts of military information that was supplied to China, according to court documents and a statement by the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
The fast-track green card bill for the Chinese workers is being pushed by Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee and California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris.
Their February 7 statement says, “the bill has also been endorsed by Immigration Voice, Compete America Coalition, the Information Technology Industry Council, Google, Microsoft, The Heritage Foundation, La Raza, and many others.” The bill is numbered S. 386.
The Senate co-sponsors of the green card giveaway bill include Republicans and Democrats:
- Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
- Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
- Sen. Jim Moran (R-KS)
- Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)
- Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
- Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND)
- Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-AZ)
The House bill is being pushed by GOP Rep. Ken Buck and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Their matching House bill is numbered H.R. 1044.
Breitbart News reported the details of the bipartisan push to provide the fast-track green cards to Chinese and Indian college graduates.
Legislators and U.S. executives claim the foreign workers are needed because too few Americans are trained for technology jobs.
But in 2015, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics debunked the claimed shortage of Americans in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. It said:
Michael S. Teitelbaum, vice president of the Sloan Foundation, opined that there are no general shortages of scientists and engineers.9 He went even further, to state that there is evidence suggesting surpluses: there are significantly more science and engineering graduates in the United States than attractive positions available in the workforce. Similarly, B. Lindsay Lowell and Harold Salzman have pointed to the disproportionate percentage of bachelor’s degree STEM holders not employed in STEM occupations.10
Looking at the STEM labor market, Salzman and colleagues concluded that, for every two students graduating with a U.S. STEM degree, only one is employed in STEM and that 32 percent of computer science graduates not employed in information technology attributed their situation to a lack of available jobs.11 In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 74 percent of those who have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM major are not employed in STEM occupations.12