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Some 'Very Strong Words' on the Senate Immigration Bill

Norman Matloff
Courtesy of Norman Matloff

Norman S. Matloff is a serious person. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California (UC), Los Angeles. He is a professor of computer science at UC Davis and was a founding member of that university's statistics department. He has published widely in fields from parallel processing to theoretical and applied statistics. He has written two textbooks.

He is also a thought leader on human resources in the computer industry, with a focus on discrimination and diversity issues (including race- and age-based discrimination) and the use of foreign labor in the U.S. computer industry. His publications in this field have appeared in several law journals, including his 99-page review on H-1B visa reform, which appeared in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. He has also published widely and prominently in the popular press, and appeared often in Beryl Benderly's Taken for Granted column on Science Careers.

I believe that we will be seeing a lot of very angry people, once they realize what has been snuck through. They'll demand to know who did this. —Norman Matloff

Because of his views, some have tried to paint Matloff as anti-immigrant, but it's pretty much impossible to make that charge stick. Matloff has been very active in various Chinese communities, opposing discrimination against Chinese immigrants in the United States. He speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, and his wife is a Chinese immigrant. Their daughter was raised bilingual.

Few people, then, are better positioned to provide a counterbalancing perspective on the Senate's "gang of eight" immigration reform proposal, which was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday after eight amendments from Senator Orin Hatch (R-Utah).

What does Matloff think about the immigration bill? He posted the following comments to his H-1B/L1/Offshoring newsletter, yesterday, before the Hatch amendments were adopted:

Tue May 21 20:45:18 PDT 2013   Sen. Hatch seems to be getting his way with the Judiciary Committee, with his H-1B-related amendments, and sadly, not a single person on the committee seems to be concerned about the most dangerous part of the bill from a STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] perspective.  There is a report at

Here are my comments:

1. The original text of the bill required employers to give priority to equally qualified Americans before offering a job to a foreign worker. THIS WAS THE BILL'S ONLY PROTECTION AGAINST THE AGE PROBLEM, in which employers hire younger H-1Bs in lieu of older (35+) Americans.  The provision would bar employers from rejecting American applicants as being "overqualified." But if Hatch's amendment is adopted, as is expected now, that provision would apply only to H-1B-dependent employers [i.e., employers staffed at least 15% by H-1B workers].

2. The committee has done nothing at all to soften the provision that gives automatic green cards to essentially ALL foreign graduate students in STEM, no limit, no labor certification, just waving everyone on through. As I've said, point 2 above is huge; it would be a historical watershed event. I believe that we will be seeing a lot of very angry people, once they realize what has been snuck through. They'll demand to know who did this. Again, these are very strong words, but I cannot imagine any different scenario if this provision is enacted.