Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

Opinion: Tech workers brace for possible omnibus job-killer bill

Tuesday, November 29th, 2022

The ‘EAGLE’ Act would revise portions of the Immigration Act of 1990 allowing more foreign workers to fill U.S. tech jobs

Co-sponsored by three Congressmen currently representing or will represent Contra Costa County – Thompson, Swalwell and Garamendi

By Joe Guzzardi, Progressives for Immigration Reform

Source: U.S. Techworkers

Like the proverbial bad penny that keeps reappearing, lousy immigration bills are hard to kill off. Consider the EAGLE Act of 2022, also known as Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment, or formally recognized as H.R. 3648. The newest proposed legislation is another iteration of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. Although it passed the House by a 365-65 vote, eventually it stalled in Congress.

Introduced by immigration lawyer, amnesty advocate, enforcement foe and expansionist champion Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), the new and the old versions of her proposed legislation both share the same ruinous-to-U.S. tech workers’ feature: the legislation would rob thousands of U.S. tech workers of access to well-paid, white-collar, high-skilled jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, STEM jobs for which they are fully qualified.

Along with her like-minded congressional allies that include Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who was just elected as House Majority Whip for the 118th Congress and thus became the third highest ranking Republican in the House, Lofgren has scheduled a vote on the EAGLE Act, which has bipartisan support, when Congress returns from its Thanksgiving recess.

Briefly explained, the EAGLE Act would dramatically revise portions of the Immigration Act of 1990. Almost any alien who has been on the visa waiting list for at least two years with an approved petition for an employment-based green card could apply for adjustment of his status which then wouldn’t count against existing numerical caps. Stated another way, employers can sponsor a temporary foreign-born worker for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa and convert that worker to permanent by merely sponsoring him for a green card. Aliens go from temporarily present to permanent residents. With the stroke of a pen, job searches become more challenging for U.S. tech workers – Congress’ twisted idea of sound legislation.

The bill also eliminates the per-country caps for employment-based visas, which means that within about a decade Indian and Chinese nationals will receive virtually all such visas, especially the H-1B; other countries’ nationals would have an uphill climb to obtain a visa. Under current law, no countries’ nationals can comprise more than 7 percent of any visa category. This provision ensures that skilled workers from around the globe have an opportunity to come to America. The EAGLE Act, however, seeks to entirely remove all caps from employment-based visas and more than double the existing family-preference visa from 7 percent to 15 percent, a hike that would, because of family reunification, ensure significant population surges. The proposed visa cap elimination is ironic because Lofgren and the EAGLE Act’s cosponsors claim to embrace diversity, but the bill heavily favors Chinese and Indian citizens to the exclusion of most others.

Moreover, dependent children of the aliens granted the new status would be allowed to retain their legal standing, a form of amnesty, as dependents of their parents for the duration of the green card application process; they would be protected from aging out while their parents move up in the backlog. An estimated 190,000 minors would be protected.

Time was when Democrats purported to care about America’s minority workers. But their empathy toward U.S. workers is long gone, and is now redirected to foreign nationals, particularly Chinese and Indians. Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities aspire to IT jobs, too. But they’ve had little luck in obtaining those coveted STEM jobs. Pew Research found that Black workers make up 9 percent of the STEM workforce, while Hispanics also comprise about 9 percent. The low STEM representation among Blacks and Hispanics is largely unchanged from 2016.

For rational thinkers, few and far between in Congress, a push for liberalized immigration laws and amnesty in light of the border surge and its 2 million-plus encounters in 2022 is beyond the pale. But those sound-of-mind types don’t understand the congressional mindset; nothing stops its amnesty drive. And if the EAGLE Act doesn’t get Senate approval, Lofgren always has the option to attach it to a must-pass Omnibus bill. With the 118th House about to transfer into GOP hands, EAGLE Act supporters view December as their last chance to subvert U.S. tech workers.

Joe Guzzardi is a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration and related social issues. Joe joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018 as an analyst after a ten-year career directing media relations for Californians for Population Stabilization, where he also was a Senior Writing Fellow. A native Californian, Joe now lives in Pennsylvania. Contact him at jguzzardi@pfirdc.org.

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Bay Area transportation agency adopts landmark policy to promote housing, commercial development near transit stations

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

TOD projects adjacent to the BART line. Source: MTC. Credit: Noah Berger

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), yesterday, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, adopted a new Transit-Oriented Communities (TOC) Policy designed to boost the overall housing supply and increase residential densities in transit-rich areas throughout the Bay Area; spur more commercial development near transit hubs served by multiple agencies; promote bus transit, walking, biking and shared mobility in transit-rich areas; and foster partnerships to create transit-oriented communities where people of all income levels, racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages and ability levels can live, work and thrive. The newly adopted policy applies specifically to transit priority areas within a half-mile of BART, Caltrain, SMART, Capitol Corridor and ACE stations; Muni and VTA light-rail stations; Muni and AC Transit bus rapid transit stops; and ferry terminals.

Studies show people are more likely to ride transit if they live within half a mile of a rail station, ferry terminal or bus line. And jobs that are within a quarter-mile of transit often are more attractive to the Bay Area’s workforce.

The TOC Policy is the update to MTC’s 2005 Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Policy. That set minimums for the average number of housing units (both existing and/or permitted housing units) within a half-mile of each new rail station funded through Regional Measure 2. However, according to MTC spokesperson Rebecca Long the new policy applies to any all existing and future transit priority areas.

“The Transit-Oriented Communities Policy is truly groundbreaking,” explained MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “Using transportation funds as an incentive, the policy encourages cities and counties to upzone transit-rich areas so transit, walking and biking can be viable travel choices for more people, and so we can generate maximum value from the billions of taxpayer dollars that have been invested in our transit network over the years as well as new transit lines that will be built in the years to come. The policy specifically encourages the development of affordable housing and protects current residents from being displaced by new development.”

The TOC Policy links all four of the themes — transportation, housing, the economy and the environment — of Plan Bay Area 2050, the long-range transportation plan and sustainable communities strategy adopted by MTC and the Association of Bay Area Governments in 2021. Minimum residential density requirements range from 25 units per acre for locations within a half-mile of ferry terminals; SMART, ACE and Capitol Corridor stations; and Caltrains stations south of San Jose’s Tamien station up to 100 units per acre within a half-mile of BART stations in downtown San Francisco and Oakland, and within a half-mile of San Jose’s Diridon Station. The policy also eliminates minimum parking requirements in many transit-rich areas, allows for shared parking between residential and commercial uses, and mandates at least one secure bike parking space for each new dwelling unit.

MTC is the regional transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

Allen D. Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Free Antioch Community Day & Back to School job and resource event Saturday, August 6

Friday, August 5th, 2022

Almost 60 vendors including Tesla, other employers, community service organizations

“Entry-level jobs for the younger people and careers for the older people” – organizer Yvette Williams

By Allen D. Payton

The City of Antioch and Antioch Police Department in collaboration with Back on Track Community Services cordially invite you to take part in a Free Community Day Back to School Event, tomorrow, Saturday, August 6, 2022, at Contra Loma Estates Park from Noon to 5 p.m.

It will be a jobs and resource fair with booths by employers and community service organizations. Plus, the event will include live entertainment, carnival rides, food booths and gas card giveaways donated by the participating employers, community resource agencies and non-profit organizations.

According to the announcement about the event, “the City of Antioch and the Antioch Police Department are committed to investing in our most vulnerable citizens who are un-housed and underemployed. This Community Day event promote the ongoing efforts of revitalization of the Sycamore Corridor, and to additionally uplift the citizenry and increase civic pride.”

Concord-based Back On Track Community Services is a non-profit 501(c)(3) multi-service organization dedicated to improving the lives of women, men and children who are underserved and under-employed. Back on Track uses harm reduction, viable-reliable community resources and peer mentoring to assist community members achieve their financial, housing and educational goals for a fulfilling life.

According to Back on Track’s Yvette Williams, she was hired by the city’s Interim Police Chief Steve Ford to organize the event. But a flier promoting the event was posted on the City of Antioch Recreation Department’s Facebook page just four days ago, not yet on the police department’s page.

This event will host numerous employers and social service agencies promoting career opportunities and viable community resource programs to our East County Community and surrounding areas. It will be held outside and is open to all community members and their families.

“We have almost 60 vendors that will be there with any kind of community-based service you can think of, including housing, health, on-site COVID testing and take-home tests, an optometrist providing free vision screenings, free bags of groceries, free backpacks,” she shared. “Employers will include Tesla, CalTrans, Tri Delta Transit and San Francisco MTA bus service.”

“Entry-level jobs for the younger people and careers for the older people,” Williams added. “It’s for anyone including those returning from prison.”

The event will also feature the following Community Outreach Opportunities /Activities:

  • Free Hot Lunch for all Vendors/Community Members
  • Live Music & Entertainment
  • Many Free Activities for Children
  • First 200 Participant’s to receive Free Backpack-School supplies
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Free Vaccines for COVID-19/ FREE COVID-19 at home test kits.
  • Free Daily Childcare/Preschool Sign up
  • Returning Citizens Employment/Housing Services
  • Face Painting Artist
  • Balloon Twisting – Glitter Tattoos Artist
  • Employment Opportunities
  • Now Hiring/Community Resource Table
  • Guest Speakers
  • Giveaways Hourly for Participants
  • Free Pony Rides
  • Free Haircuts – Urban Barber College / The League XS
  • Free Bags of Groceries – to the first 100 Community Members
  • Food Bank
  • Voter Registration
  • Vouchers for Eye Exam/One Pair of Glasses
  • Sign up for Snap – EBT Benefits

Source: Councilwoman Torres-Walker

In a post by District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker on her official Facebook page, she thanked the event’s partners and sponsors. They include The League XS Apprenticeship Academy of Cosmetology and Barbering, the only Antioch-based community partner; Richmond-based Safe Return Project, for which Torres-Walker is executive director,  Mobility LABs Learning and Action Bets, a project of New York City-based Robinhood whose local affiliate is Richmond-based RCF Connects, Concord-based Monument Impact, Oakland-based Makin Moves Motorcycle Club (which also sponsored the recent Antioch Juneteenth event and whose founder Ronald Muhammad contributed $500 to Mayor Thorpe’s campaign committee to defeat the recall), Stockton-based Balance Staffing, Oakland-based Tradeswomen, Inc., Sonoma-based Nelson Connects which has offices in Pleasanton, Fairfield and Fremont, and San Rafael-based Bay Area Community Resources (BACR).

An invitation was sent out by Williams with the APD logo and city’s Sesquicentennial logo to employers and organizations for them to participate in the event. 2022 Antioch Community Day EventBrite -invitation to participate

Asked if the Antioch Chamber of Commerce was asked to send out an invitation to their members who are hiring and might want to participate, Williams said she didn’t. Williams, who said she’s been organizing events since 1999, also organized an Employment, Health & Wellness Resource Fair sponsored by the city held at the Somersville Towne Center last October which included some of the same sponsors as tomorrow’s event.

Torres-Walker was also asked if an invite was sent to the Antioch Chamber of Commerce to eblast out to their members who are hiring and might have wanted to participate. In addition, since it is believed she proposed the event, Torres-Walker was asked who is paying for it, which city department or if the community partners and employers are each paying to rent a booth. Finally, she was asked to provide any other details about the event.

In response, Torres-Walker wrote, “The idea for the community day came from a conversation with the new chief and how he wanted to build some positive relations with the community. I suggested that APD work with a few community groups to put on something fun for families with resources.”

“It is my understanding that this event is funded by APD, and the chief is in the lead. I was at the first initial meeting, but I have been pretty hands off unless someone asked for my assistance,” she continued. “It’s a free event so no one is being charged.”

“I think that Chief Ford is committed to community policing and wants to use this event to build relationships with the community,” Torres-Walker added.

Questions were also sent to Ford and the department’s two captains asking for the costs of the event.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Antioch mayor wants to spend $600-$625K to hire 20 apprentices in Public Works Dep’t for 10-month pilot program

Monday, March 21st, 2022

Council to consider it during Tuesday meeting; third-party provider would be hired to run program

“Hire more police officers, now. Public safety before apprenticeship programs” – Mayor Pro Tem Barbanica

By Allen D. Payton

Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe is proposing a Mayor’s Apprenticeship Program to benefit 20 participants as part of the city’s Youth Services Network (YSN). The city council will receive a presentation on the program during their meeting Tuesday night and are being asked to provide direction to staff about it.  MAP ACC032222

According to the staff report by Tasha Johnson, YSN Manager, the program will be “a paid workforce development opportunity in the City of Antioch proposed for young adults ages 18-26. The pilot program will employ 20 participants who are underemployed, underserved and underestimated. The young adults selected may possess multiple barriers they are facing and may be justice involved, unhoused, former foster youth and more.”

“The fiscal impact is estimated to range from $600,000-$625,000 per year for a cohort of 20 participants,” the staff report reads.

Johnson’s staff report shares more about the program and its goals.

“Economically vulnerable populations are struggling to meet the basic needs of housing, food security and access to healthcare; consequently, there is an impact of violence affecting these communities. The City’s leadership is intent on offering strategies for addressing healthier outcomes for individuals, neighborhoods and the city. The youth and young adults in the City of Antioch, specifically in the Sycamore area, are being adversely affected by lack of skills and employment opportunity. They face numerous challenges and barriers that must be addressed as the City of Antioch strives to truly realize that opportunity lives here for all youth and young adults. Making available a comprehensive workforce development program not only addresses the needs and helps to prepare a local future workforce, but also builds economic stability for a better quality of life.”

MAP GOALS

Further according to the staff report, the goals of the program are to:

  • Develop a learning culture that encourages and supports training, continuing education, and professional development
  • Strengthen the orientation of young adults to career pathways
  • Generate marketable skills for the workforce
  • Provide an opportunity to be an active member of the community and become economically self-sufficient

The program elements consist of the following:

  • Workforce development training (traditional workshops and experiential learning)
  • Job placement in divisions throughout Public Works
  • Ongoing support services to address barriers

A third-party provider will be secured to deliver training, coaching support and programmatic evaluation.

In addition to secured part-time employment, the MAP will link needs and resources by:

1) identifying and providing referrals to local community-based organizations 2) connecting participants to higher education opportunities and career pathways 3) developing positive self-identity. Success of the MAP supports the City of Antioch’s talent pipeline.”

The tentative start date for the program is July 6, 2022 and is projected to end April 22, 2023.

Questions for Thorpe, Council, Youth Services Network Manager, Public Works Director

The following questions were emailed to Thorpe, the other four council members, Ms. Johnson and Public Works Director John Samuelson Monday afternoon:

Why do you need to hire a third-party provider instead of having the Youth Services Network Manager, who is already being paid by the city for youth services, fulfill the role?

How much of the $600-$625,000 budget will be paid to the third-party provider?  How much will remain to pay each of the apprentices, each month?

Since they will be assigned to the city’s Public Works Department, what work will the 20 participants be doing to earn their monthly compensation?

Will they be performing physical labor? If so, what kind and on what kind of projects? Will they be cleaning up graffiti and litter?

Have you thought of instead, providing $30,000 grants to 20 local businesses to each hire one apprentice, to give them private sector experience which will also help grow our local economy, and allow Ms. Johnson to provide the other program elements?”

No responses were received as of Monday, March 21, 2022 at 5:00 PM.

UPDATE: Barbanica Says “Public Safety Before Apprenticeship Programs”, Reveals Low APD Staffing Levels, Interim City Manager Wants to Wait for New, Interim Police Chief to Evaluate Need for More Officers

However, in a video posted on YouTube and his official Facebook page, Monday night, Barbanica wrote and said, “Hire more police officers, now. Public safety before apprenticeship programs.” He also revealed the low staffing levels in the police department and that the Interim City Manager Con Johnson wants to wait until the new, interim police chief is on board and has evaluated the need to determine how many more officers the city needs.

“I don’t know much about the program… But here is what did strike me. I have, personally, requested on the agenda, the hiring of more police officers and it’s yet to have made the agenda. I know other council members are interested in that, as well. Nothing,” the mayor pro tem said. “But we have this on the agenda and I’m not saying if it’s good or bad. But the safety of our community and the safety of our men and women who are out there every day patrolling our streets, that should be our number one, in all of our day-to-day. I get this. There are people who want an apprenticeship program. Fine. But let’s don’t put the men and women that are out there, every day doing this job, in jeopardy by not having enough staffing.”

“Our recent staffing levels…we are allotted 115 officers…and we can go over, hire over by six. That’s not funded, but we can go over by six. Right now, we’re running about 102. That is less than one officer for every thousand people in this community,” he continued. “I am also told, and I have been told this for months and months, that people are leaving the Antioch Police Department. We stand to lose another four to six more officers in the next four to six months.”

“And get this, right now, we’re having people, and we have been for awhile pull out of the hiring process,” Barbanica exclaimed. “Why? When do you ever see that occur? In my years of law enforcement, we didn’t see it that often. People were standing in line to do the job and to get hired. Now, we’re seeing people pull out and go other places. Why is that happening? We need to be supporting the Antioch Police Department and the staffing levels. We need this on the agenda.”

“This is fine,” he added while holding up a copy of the agenda item on the apprenticeship program. “If the mayor wants this to be on the agenda, fine. But put staffing levels also on the agenda. We need to get up from that 102 to that 115, and beyond. This is huge. This is the safety of our community. I have asked for that to be on the agenda and it hasn’t.”

“The funny thing was, a couple weeks ago I got a call from the interim city manager, and I was talking to him about staffing levels, and he told me he was interested in talking to me about that,” Barbanica stated. “But what he did tell me, was that he was going to wait until the new interim police chief comes in, and that interim police chief can evaluate if we need more personnel.”

“We’re less than one officer per every thousand,” the mayor pro tem reiterated. “We need more police officers. There’s no doubt. Funny thing is we pay a lot of money, here and people are going elsewhere. Why?”

“And why are we waiting for an interim police chief who has never worked in this community, may be a very qualified individual. I don’t know. I’ve yet to meet the man because when he was brought on, I wasn’t told anything about him coming on,” Barbanica continued. “However, we have an interim police chief, now that has more than 20 years’ experience in this community. That chief is able to make a decision and tell our city manager and our city council what we need.”

“Let’s stop playing politics with this. This is the safety of our community and the safety of the men and women that are out there every day protecting this community and all of us need to be backing them,” he concluded.

Viewing and Public Comments

City Council meetings are televised live on Comcast channel 24, AT&T U-verse channel 99, or live stream at City Council Meeting LIVE – City of Antioch, California (antiochca.gov).

The public has the opportunity to address the City Council on each agenda item. No one may speak more than once on an agenda item or during “Public Comments”.

Members of the public wishing to provide public comments, may do so in one of the following ways (#2 pertains to the Zoom Webinar Platform):

  1. IN PERSON Fill out a Speaker Request Form, available near the entrance doors, and place in the Speaker Card Tray near the City Clerk before the City Council Meeting begins.
  2. VIRTUAL To provide oral public comments during the meeting, please click the following link to register in advance to access the meeting via Zoom Webinar: https://www.antiochca.gov/speakers

You will be asked to enter an email address and a name. Your email address will not be disclosed to the public. After registering, you will receive an email with instructions on how to connect to the meeting.

When the Mayor announces public comments, click the “raise hand” feature in Zoom. For instructions on using the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, visit: https://www.antiochca.gov/raise_hand. When calling into the meeting using the Zoom Webinar telephone number, press *9 on your telephone keypad to raise

your hand. Please ensure your Zoom client is updated so staff can enable your microphone when it is your turn to speak.

Speakers will be notified shortly before they are called to speak. When you are called to speak, please limit your comments to the time allotted (350 words, up to 3 minutes, at the discretion of the Mayor).

The City cannot guarantee that its network and/or the site will be uninterrupted.

  1. WRITTEN PUBLIC COMMENT If you wish to provide a written public comment, you may do so in one of the following ways by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting:

(1) Fill out an online speaker card, located at https://www.antiochca.gov/speaker_card,

Or (2) Email the City Clerk’s Department at cityclerk@ci.antioch.ca.us.

Please note: Written public comments received by 3:00 p.m. the day of the City Council Meeting will be shared with the City Council before the meeting, entered into the public record, retained on file by the City Clerk s Office, and available to the public upon request. Written public comments will not be read during the City Council Meeting.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

 

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East Bay Park District lifeguards wanted for 2022 swim season

Wednesday, March 9th, 2022

Photo: EBRPD

By Jen Vanya, Public Information Specialist, Public Affairs, East Bay Regional Park District

Monday, March 7, 2022 (Oakland, CA) – The East Bay Regional Park District is actively seeking 50 new lifeguards for the 2022 swim season at its 10 East Bay swim facilities, which include lakes, lagoons, and pools. All new lifeguard positions are seasonal, full-time positions from May through September. Anyone 16 and over before April 23, 2022, are encouraged to apply. Starting pay is $20.17 per hour.

There are six different testing dates scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays during the last three weekends in March. Participants will be asked to swim 550 yards in under 10 minutes, carry a rescue board 50 feet, retrieve three dive rings under 4-7 feet of water, tread water for two minutes using only their legs, and retrieve a 10-pound brick from under water. There will also be a short informal interview after successful completion of the swim test on the same day.

Participants who pass the tests will be invited to the Park District’s Lifeguard Academy beginning Saturday April 23rd, 2022, where they will receive paid training and certification in open water lifeguarding. The Lifeguard Academy takes place over five consecutive weekends in April and May, with the swim season beginning in late May for most facilities.

“Promoting water safety and educating park visitors on how to safely recreate in, on, and around the water is paramount in what a lifeguard does,” said East Bay Regional Parks District Aquatics Manager Pete DeQuincy. “Working as a lifeguard is one of the few ways a young adult can give back to their community and learn about public service.”

Lifeguards can work at any of the Park District’s swim facilities throughout cities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, such as Antioch, Concord, Livermore, Hayward, Castro Valley, Oakland, Alameda, and Berkeley.

Testing Schedule

  • Saturday March 12th, Buchanan Pool, Pittsburg
  • Sunday March 13th, Buchanan Pool, Pittsburg
  • Saturday March 19th, Mills College, Oakland
  • Sunday March 20th, Mills College, Oakland
  • Saturday March 26th, Granada High School, Livermore
  • Sunday March 27th, Granada High School, Livermore

More Information and How to Apply: bit.ly/2022EBRPDLifeguard

The East Bay Regional Park District is the largest regional park system in the nation, comprising 73 parks, 55 miles of shoreline, and over 1,300 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and environmental education. The Park District receives more than 25 million visits annually throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Biden-Harris Administration, House Democrats working to attract more foreign students, workers for American technology jobs

Thursday, January 27th, 2022

American tech workers not happy, say policy change “destroys the career prospects of young American graduates”

By Allen D. Payton

President Biden and Vice President Harris issued a statement on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, announcing actions and policy changes their administration is taking to make it easier to attract foreign scholars, students, researchers, and experts to ultimately fill American technology jobs. In addition, on Tuesday, Biden issued a statement announcing his support for the America COMPETES Act of 2022 (H.R. 3593).

In addition, according to an announcement issued today by the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor, tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 28, the Biden administration will make 20,000 additional temporary nonfarm, H2-B work visas available for hiring through March, delivering on a demand from business groups.

“The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of 13,500 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 6,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are reserved for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras,” the joint statement reads. “The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States.”

Also, according to a Bloomberg Law article, published yesterday, Democrats have included a new entrepreneur visa in a House bill.

“Nonimmigrant visas for owners and key employees of start-ups as well as their family members and other STEM-boosting measures are part of legislation introduced by Democratic House leaders this week. The Senate last year passed its own version of the legislation, which President Joe Biden’s administration has identified as a key priority,” the article reads. “The bill, which also exempts immigrants with doctorates in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics fields from annual green card caps, is part of a broader legislative package released Tuesday that seeks to strengthen U.S. competitiveness with China in research and development.”

American Tech Workers Not Happy

But an organization of American technology workers, U.S. Tech Workers, which describes itself as a “nonprofit representing the voices of American workers harmed by the H-1B visa program and pushing Congress for reforms to protect workers”, are not happy with the Administration’s policies nor the Democrats’ legislation.

In a post on the group’s Twitter feed on Monday, Jan. 24, they wrote, “employers lobbied the US government for the ability to hire foreign workers via guest worker visa programs so they could rig the free-market in their favor.”

The group is also opposed to the changes in the H-2B visa and OPT programs. They said the changes will encourage companies to discriminate against American job applicants.

“This is exactly the kind of policy that destroys the career prospects of young American graduates,” the group posted on their Twitter feed. “USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) is incentivizing employers to discriminate against US grads because the OPT program provides employers who hire foreign students: – FICA tax exemptions – No wage standards.”

An article on the group’s website written by Joe Guzzardi, a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about immigration issues, and joined Progressives for Immigration Reform in 2018, reads, “STEM OPT’s expansion…is significant since the thousands of new foreign-born workers entering the labor pool will adversely affect employed U.S. tech workers or recent U.S. STEM graduates whose prospective careers could be jeopardized.”

In addition, the U.S. Tech Workers tweeted, “Exempting a certain category of foreign workers counting towards numerical Green Card caps is a deceptive & crafty tactic of INCREASING overall immigration numbers. It basically means there’s an unlimited supply of GCs for PhDs & their family (spouse/kids).”

In another tweet about Biden’s statement on the America COMPETES ACT of 2022, the U.S. Tech Workers wrote, “House version of America COMPETES Act of 2022 sneakingly adds immigration provisions: – Exempts PhD foreign students & their family from counting towards Green Card cap – Creates new visas for entrepreneurs.”

According to a 2021 Bloomberg article, “Businesses that hire foreign students are exempt from paying Medicare and Social Security taxes, amounting to a discount of 7.65%.”

Biden-Harris Foreign STEM Talent Statement

The statement from the White House reads as follows:

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Actions to Attract STEM Talent and Strengthen our Economy and Competitiveness

JANUARY 21, 2022

“The Biden-Harris Administration believes that one of America’s greatest strengths is our ability to attract global talent to strengthen our economy and technological competitiveness, and benefit working people and communities all across the country.

In the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – fields that are critical to the prosperity, security, and health of our Nation – our history is filled with examples of how America’s ability to attract global talent has spurred path-breaking innovation. This innovation has led to the creation of new jobs, new industries, and new opportunities for Americans across the United States. Our commitment as a nation to welcoming new talent has long provided America with a global competitive advantage, and we must continue to lead in this effort.

Today, the Departments of State and Homeland Security are announcing new actions to advance predictability and clarity for pathways for international STEM scholars, students, researchers, and experts to contribute to innovation and job creation efforts across America. These actions will allow international STEM talent to continue to make meaningful contributions to America’s scholarly, research and development, and innovation communities.

These announcements build on the Biden Administration’s efforts to remove barriers to legal immigration, such as under Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans, and to promote educational exchange, such as under the recent Joint Statement of Principles in Support of International Education issued by Secretaries Blinken and Cardona.

Today’s agency announcements include:

  • The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is announcing an “Early Career STEM Research Initiative,” to facilitate non-immigrant BridgeUSA exchange visitors coming to the United States to engage in STEM research through research, training or educational exchange visitor programs with host organizations, including businesses. ECA is also announcing new guidance that will facilitate additional academic training for undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields on the J-1 visa for periods of up to 36 months.
  • Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas is announcing that 22 new fields of study are now included in the STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) program through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). The program permits F-1 students earning Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates in certain STEM fields to remain in the United States for up to 36 months to complete Optional Practical Training after earning their degrees. Information on the new fields of study will be communicated to schools and students in a forthcoming Federal Register notice. The added fields of study are primarily new multidisciplinary or emerging fields, and are critical in attracting talent to support U.S. economic growth and technological competitiveness.
  • DHS is issuing an update to its policy manual related to “extraordinary ability” (O-1A) nonimmigrant status regarding what evidence may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria.
  • O-1A nonimmigrant status is available to persons of extraordinary ability in the fields of science, business, education, or athletics. In this update, DHS is clarifying how it determines eligibility for immigrants of extraordinary abilities, such as PHD holders, in the science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields.
  • The new update provides examples of evidence that may satisfy the O-1A evidentiary criteria and discusses considerations that are relevant to evaluating such evidence, with a focus on the highly technical nature of STEM fields and the complexity of the evidence often submitted.
  • The update also emphasizes that, if a petitioner demonstrates that a particular criterion does not readily apply to their occupation, they may submit evidence that is of comparable significance to that criterion to establish sustained acclaim and recognition. Additionally, it provides examples of possible comparable evidence that may be submitted in support of petitions for beneficiaries working in STEM fields.
  • With respect to immigration, DHS is issuing an update to its policy manual on how U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a DHS component, adjudicates national interest waivers for certain immigrants with exceptional abilities in their field of work.
    • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides that an employer can file an immigrant petition for a person of exceptional ability or a member of the professions with an advanced degree. The INA provides that USCIS may waive a job offer requirement, allowing immigrants whose work is in the national interest to petition for themselves, without an employer.
    • The USCIS policy update clarifies how the national interest waiver can be used for persons with advanced degrees in STEM fields and entrepreneurs, as well as the significance of letters from governmental and quasi-governmental entities. This update will promote efficient and effective benefit processing as USCIS reviews requests for national interest waivers. This effort is consistent with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities to restore faith in the legal immigration system.

Biden Statement on America COMPETES Act of 2022

Following is the statement by the President Biden on the America COMPETES ACT of 2022 issued on Tuesday:

Statement by President Biden on the America COMPETES Act of 2022

JANUARY 25, 2022

The House took an important step forward today in advancing legislation that will make our supply chains stronger and reinvigorate the innovation engine of our economy to outcompete China and the rest of the world for decades to come.

The proposals laid out by the House and Senate represent the sort of transformational investments in our industrial base and research and development that helped power the United States to lead the global economy in the 20th century and expand opportunity for middle class families. They’ll help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, and they’re squarely focused on easing the sort of supply chain bottlenecks like semiconductors that have led to higher prices for the middle class. Building on the historic investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I signed last year – and on signs of progress like last week’s Intel announcement and today’s GM announcement – comprehensive competitiveness legislation will power our economy to create good-paying jobs for all Americans, no matter where you live or whether you have a college degree, and will help tackle the climate crisis.

I’m heartened by Congress’ bipartisan work so far, and its commitment to quick action to get this to my desk as soon as possible. Together, we have an opportunity to show China and the rest of the world that the 21st century will be the American century – forged by the ingenuity and hard work of our innovators, workers, and businesses.”

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St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa announces new cycle of paid job training starting Jan. 6

Thursday, December 23rd, 2021

Mary Turner (left), a graduate of the WFD program at St. Vincent de Paul, hugs her mentor Gail F. (right) outside of her newly purchased home in Stockton, California. Photo: St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa

Participant re-enters workforce, becomes financially stable homeowner

The Workforce Development Program at St. Vincent de Paul is a paid job training program aimed at helping the unemployed re-enter the workforce and find stable employment. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen millions suddenly find themselves out of work. In these hard times, it is more important than ever that job applicants understand workplace expectations and have the soft skills to be a contributing employee. The 24-week program teaches participants skills and techniques to find a job and be successful in the workplace, offering training in resume development, interviewing, and organizational skills in a supportive & compassionate environment. Mandatory orientation sessions, applicants should choose either the Pleasant Hill, Brentwood, or the Pittsburg sessions.

The Pleasant Hill Sessions take place on Thursday, Jan. 6 and Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, from 10 AM – 1 PM at Christ The King Church at 199 Brandon Road. The Brentwood Sessions take place on Saturday, Jan. 8 and Friday, Jan. 14 from 10 AM – 1PM at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store at 8890 Brentwood Blvd. The Pittsburg Sessions will take place on Monday, Jan. 17 and Friday, Jan. 21 from 2 PM – 5 PM at the St. Vincent de Paul Family Resource Center at 2210 Gladstone Drive. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

The Workforce Development Program aims to help tear down the barriers that stand in the way of employment for individuals who have struggled to obtain and maintain employment. Participants work with mentors and take weekly classes to develop workplace skills. A new class of participants is selected every three months.

Participants gain paid, part-time, (22.5 hours per week), work experience in a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store or SVdP’s transportation department. Additional training in retail operations including cash register operations, inventory display and optimization, and warehouse operations is also provided.

Success for program participant is life-changing. Mary Turner, a graduate from SVdP’s Workforce Development Program, was living in her car when she began the program. A senior citizen, Mary found herself having to return to work when her rent increased beyond the means of her fixed income. After successfully graduating from the WFD program at St. Vincent de Paul, Mary found work as a medical support assistant. In October 2021, Mary purchased her first home in Stockton, California.

“It was hard, I was living on SSI and Disability, but my rent just kept increasing until I couldn’t afford it,” Mary said. “Now, I have a good job as an Advanced Medical Support Assistant (with the Veterans Administration), and I have my daughter and grand-babies stay in my home. If you want to be a home owner, it’s possible. It’s hard, it’s a struggle, but it’s worth it and it’s possible, and the people at St. Vincent de Paul showed me that.”

St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County has provided safety-net services in the county for over 57 years, serving 100,000 people annually and distributing over $1M of direct financial assistance and over $1.7M of in-kind aid. Over 750 SVdP volunteers and a small staff lead operations in Contra Costa including the SVdP Family Resource Center in Pittsburg, 28 branches, and 3 Thrift Stores. One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, St. Vincent de Paul is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of more than 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 155 countries on five continents.

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Employment Resource, Health & Wellness Fair in Antioch Oct. 30

Monday, October 18th, 2021

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