Business

Microsoft Lays Off Thousands While Demanding More H1-B Visas

Tech giant Microsoft announced Wednesday that it will be laying off approximately 7,800 employees worldwide, bringing a denunciation from a federal lawmaker who says the firings expose the company’s calls for more immigration.

The firings, which will eliminate about 7 percent of the company’s workforce, are concentrated in Microsoft’s troubled mobile phone business, and will eliminate most of the remaining employees from its purchase of Nokia’s phone operation in 2013. Only some of the layoffs are in the U.S., with Finland being hit especially hard with over 2,ooo jobs lost. The firings follow up on the 18,000 layoffs the company made last year, which were also concentrated in the phone business.

Now, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama is slamming Microsoft, saying the layoffs show it is being dishonest when it lobbies for increased immigration into the United States.

“Microsoft has shed roughly 1/5th of its workforce in the past couple years,” Sessions said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And yet Microsoft, perhaps more than any other major U.S. company, has claimed it suffers from a shortage of capable American workers and must therefore import more H-1B foreign guest workers.”

Sessions is a top GOP critic of immigration reform efforts that would offer amnesty for illegal immigrants or allow a surge of new visas for foreign workers. Microsoft, on the other hand, has lobbied intensely for more immigration. The company has endorsed the I-Squared Act of 2015, which would triple the number of H-1B temporary work visas from 65,000 to over 195,000. Microsoft claims it’s unable to fill all its job openings unless the H-1B visa program is expanded to let more skilled workers into the United States. The company is one of the three biggest H-1B employers in the country, and back in 2007 company founder Bill Gates suggested the U.S. should allow an “infinite” number of H-1Bs.

Sessions says Microsoft is simply looking to use cheaper immigrants as a way to drive down labor costs and undercut American workers.

“As Microsoft’s layoffs show, there is a surplus—not a shortage—of skilled, talented, and qualified Americans seeking [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] STEM employment,” he said. “Each year, universities graduate twice as many students with STEM degrees as find STEM jobs. According to the Census Bureau, more than 11 million Americans with STEM degrees are not employed in STEM jobs—or three in four STEM degree holders. Among recent graduates, about 35 percent of science students, 55 percent of technology students, 20 percent of engineering students, and 30 percent of math students are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree—let alone their area of specialty.”

Sessions made a similar denunciation of Microsoft last year after its first layoff wave.

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