This editorial appeared in the New York Daily News on Jan. 24:
NEW YORK (Tribune News Service) — Despite the often cold language about “market corrections” or “rightsizing” that accompanies them, mass layoffs are a collection of individual little catastrophes for the people affected by them.
Such is the case for workers caught in rounds of tens of thousands of layoffs announced in the last several weeks by tech sector giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook parent Meta. For many, it will represent a period of stress and uncertainty from which they’ll likely recover. For workers on immigrant visas, however, it might represent a point of no return.
The term “temporary worker” is a bit misleading, creating a public conception of foreign workers flitting into the country for a few months and then leaving. In reality, many workers on visas like the H-1B are longtime residents who’ve built lives in the U.S., stuck in interminable residency backlog that our own broken immigration system has created, or onetime students who’ve gone through years of U.S. higher education in pursuit of well-paid jobs and the American dream.
They might have done everything right for years and years, but that doesn’t matter once a layoff comes and they have a mere 60 days to find alternative employment or lose status and be forced out of the country. With swaths of the tech industry now engaged in shedding of workers, a significant portion will inevitably run out the clock.
This workforce will contract without the ability to expand again, given that the workers will be forced to leave the labor pool permanently with an exit from the United States. If these corporate giants reverse course down the line or other industries — say, the homegrown semiconductor industry that the Congress and president seem eager to set up — ramp up their demand for tech workers, they simply won’t be around anymore.
Meanwhile, countries like Canada are rolling out the red carpet while we make life complicated and unpredictable for workers with specialized skills. Congress must adapt, or risk having the era of U.S. technical supremacy slowly come to a close.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. © 2023 New York Daily News.
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