American immigration seems immune to reform. False assumptions have been deeply ingrained over many decades and blithely parroted by the large majority of citizens. Employers protest before Congress but have not invested in research and communication with the purpose of presenting the facts which would help to verify the assumptions. Their strategy for dealing with immigration is just so inept. This despite the fact that the urban legends about immigration are just plain silly.
The refrain is that H1 employees displace locals. This is a half-truth. More often than not, H1 employees do technical work that Americans prefer not to do and choose management and marketing jobs. I have heard terms like programming monkey widely used to belittle such functions.
The other story is that as immigrants H1 employees are more likely to turn into entrepreneurs. Their chances of upward mobility are lower in the American corporate world due to cultural barriers. As entrepreneurs, they create jobs for Americans.
The current legal system in the USA is horribly dysfunctional. If companies need technical talent and don't get in the USA, they have the option of setting up an office in Vancouver where immigrants are easily available. The Canadian system is a transparent system which lowers the uncertainty and the costs of hiring foreign labor both for the employer and the employee. I made an application for the Canadian permanent card and had to do nothing after the initial application was filed. Also, the attorney was expected to return my fee if my application was not accepted. By contrast, the American application cost a huge amount, I had to make two attempts and all the time there was no way of knowing whether I would be accepted. The Canadian system takes an economic approach and matches the country's needs for workers with supply by using a point system. The system clearly works as indicated by the fact that you don't have intense controversies as in the USA.
I have worked previously on an H1 visa and always found that employers took this option as a last resort. Employers don't like the hassle of the legal process involved in H1 or the harassment of explaining to immigration officials why they chose a foreigner over a local American. Also, foreigners take a more than a while to adapt to the culture and the processes which is an added cost. The only time H1 candidates are employed are when the economy is in a midst of a boom and immigration is more relaxed.
I have heard a lot of people say that foreign labor is hired because it is cheap. Never have seen a single piece of evidence cited to support the assertion. The only thing that stops H1 visa holders from rising is the lack of mobility that comes with the byzantine immigration processes. Really, Americans with conscience will not support this banana Republic variety capricious legislation.
I might add and ask why the detractors don't ever mention the jobs that are created when foreigners turn into entrepreneurs or facilitate the global expansion of American multinationals. The tax rules for Americans overseas are just not attractive for them to go work abroad. American companies have to rely on local workers and American trained employees help in bridging the cultural gap.