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The Texas woman on fire about H-1B visa use

Patrick Thibodeau | April 28, 2016
Jennifer’s Wedel’s 2012 question to President Obama may have marked a turning point in the H-1B debate.

Although Darin Wedel didn't train a foreign replacement and was laid off with other workers, Jennifer Wedel says Texas Instruments was lobbying for increasing visa use prior to the layoffs, and she sees a connection.

She credits the recent book about the H-1B visa, Sold Out -- by co-authors John Miano, an attorney and founder of the Programmers Build, and columnist Michelle Malkin -- with detailing Texas Instrument's lobbying efforts, as well as re-fueling her desire to become more active on this issue.

Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Deptartment of Homeland Security, last July echoed Obama's 2012 statement acknowledging the H-1B visas' supposedly limited use. Appearing at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Johnson, in response to a question, told the committee that H-1B workers "are not supposed to replace Americans."

But since 2012, U.S. IT workers have become more vocal about displacements as offshore outsourcing reaches deeper into the U.S. economy.

One can't draw a straight line between Wedel and the increasing activism of IT workers, other than to suggest that Wedel's determined line of questioning of the president was an early signal of increasingly vocal discontent.

Affected IT workers are lobbying lawmakers, appearing at hearings and telling their stories to the news media.

Last week, for instance, IT workers at EmblemHealth went so far as to stage a protest after their employer signed a contract with a major H-1B-using IT services firm. They held a noontime protest, with signs and chants, around EmblemHealth's midtown Manhattan office.

"I have huge American pride," said Wedel. "I feel Americans should have first priority" for jobs.


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