We’re not wild about outsourcing, but we recognize it as a fact of life in the 21st century American economy. Work formerly done for American companies by Americans is now being done overseas.
We didn’t think outsourcing would take the form of foreigners brought into America to do the work at the American companies. But that’s what has been happening at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla.
What definitely shouldn’t have happened is Disney exploiting a loophole in immigration law to bring in the foreign workers.
A visa program known as H-1B provides a limited number of temporary visas — a total of 85,000 a year — for foreigners with computer, engineering or other advanced skills to fill jobs in American companies when American workers are not available.
A lack of available workers was not the case at The Magic Kingdom.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that about 250 Disney technology-operations workers were laid off last year and many were replaced by immigrants hired by an outsourcing company based in India.
Before leaving, some of the laid-off workers had to train immigrants on H-1B visas to do their jobs.
“I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30, told the Times. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.”
We’re also finding it difficult to grasp. And questioning the legality of Disney having done so.
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on Thursday asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate the temporary visa program. In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Nelson asked him to examine “potential misuses” of a visa program known as H-1B.
“This program was created to help fill jobs when there were labor shortages, not to take jobs away from anyone,” Nelson wrote.
In 2014, the power utility Southern California Edison initiated layoffs of 540 workers, replacing them with immigrants brought in by a different India-based outsourcing company. Sens. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Durbin, D-Ill., are among those asking the Labor Department to investigate those layoffs.
The intention of H-1B is to fill skilled-worker gaps that already exist, not to help companies increase profits after they’ve deliberately created a skilled-worker gap.