Friday, January 6, 2012

Mark Kirkorian at National Review reports: The U.S. State Department subsidizes over 100,000 foreign students to take premium summer jobs throughout the United States...

President Obama wants private employers to step up hiring young people.  A laudable goal.  

Mark Kirkorian at National Review has a cost effective way of making perhaps 100,000 jobs available to American citizens and to save tax dollars in the process.   Do you have a college kid who is looking for work during the summers?  Guess what, he or she might not be finding a job because the U.S. State Department is helping to bring in foreign exchange students to take those positions.  Ironically, this is overseen by Hillary Clinton who personally benefitted from one of those summer jobs when she was in college:
In the summer of 1969, after graduating from Wellesley College and before entering Yale Law School, a young woman from Illinois named Hillary Rodham scooped the innards from salmon at a cold, wet processing plant in Valdez, Alaska. “I slimed fish,” she recalled during a visit to Anchorage as First Lady in 1994. “I was handed a spoon, some hip boots and a raincoat, and I think it was the best preparation for living in Washington.” Her husband, President Bill Clinton, quipped that, “in Washington you have to trade the spoon in for a shovel.”1

For decades, summer jobs in Alaska have beckoned to American college students eager to earn good money and revel in the state’s natural wonders. But in 2011 about 2,000 of these jobs – at fish processing plants, national parks, and other locations – were filled by young foreigners who come to the United States under a “cultural exchange” program administered by the State Department, which is directed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
They are participants in the Summer Work Travel program (SWT). Every year SWT provides J-1 visas to more than 100,000 college students from around the world, allowing them to work for three months and take an additional month to travel. Because they pay an average of about $1,100 in fees to the private organizations that sponsor their participation in the program, the program generates well over $100 million in annual revenues for those organizations. They pay many millions more in visa fees to the State Department and in travel expenses to and from the U.S.2

The J-1 students, as they are sometimes known, can be found at national parks and beach resorts; amusement parks and neighborhood swimming pools; seafood processing plants and farms; upscale restaurants and fast food franchises; convenience stores, toy stores, and candy shops; roadside vegetable stands; factories, warehouses and moving companies. All in the name of cultural exchange.

Fish "Slime" Line, Smells Like Teen Spirit!

Old Faithful Lodge, Yellowstone National Park (not a bad place to work for the summer)
It gets worse.  Because the way the system works, foreign students get premium resort jobs at National Parks before American kids get out of school.  In addition to taking jobs in National Park hotels, Kids from the Ukraine, Eastern Europe, Turkey and elsewhere are recruited to work the fish processing plants in Alaska.   Working in a fish plant is hard physical work, but it traditionally paid decent money for college kids.  Granted the J-1 program was relied on when unemployment was low and it was hard to fill the jobs, but employers are now happy with the foreigners and not looking locally.   American kids in the fish plants are becoming a rarity.  

But not all the jobs that are available are ones you might want to place your kids in, abuses include using this program to fill stip club positions.  Rampant abuse in the program has been noted for years.
 
Also being released today is "Declining Summer Employment Among American Youths" by CIS Director of Research Steven Camarota. The report finds that fewer than half of native-born Americans ages 16 to 24 worked in the summer of 2011, down from nearly two-thirds in 2000. This decline began long before the current recession and very little of it can be ascribed to summer school or internships. Competition from foreign workers, both permanent and temporary (including through the SWT program), accounts for a significant share of this decline.

The past year has been particularly turbulent for SWT. When the State Department issued new regulations in the spring, it acknowledged that some sponsors were neglecting their duties and that the existing regulations "do not sufficiently protect national security interests, the Department's reputation, and the health, safety and welfare of Summer Work Travel program participants." In short, the program had been infected by many abuses, leaving some participants defrauded and allowing others to be recruited by organized crime or strip club owners.
While reforms are supposedly being made, the program is difficult to review from the outside and questions about it still remain unanswered.  Here is an open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Culture exchanges are fine.  And I can understand why employers would want to hire attractive smart multilingual exchange student to work at National Park resort properties instead of spoiled American slackers.  But not all American kids are slackers, and believe it or not, many of them would actually do well if given an opportunity.  And when we have such high unemployment rates, does it make any sense for the State Department to be subsidizing (at U.S. taxpayer expense) the outsourcing of good paying seasonal work jobs to foreign nationals?    


Update:  While No longer a college student, Chelsea Clinton is having employment problems at NBC.  Perhaps she would have benefited working the "slime line" like her mother did.  Well it is never too late!  Maybe MSNBC can pick up her contract!  H/T:  Ann Althouse  ("So... they're not even trying to look credible. Great branding, NBC News!")  

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