Cisco caught in maelstrom over fake job ads to hire H-1B visa holders

Patrick Thibodeau reported in Computerworld, that Cisco may have advertised for a U.S. job position that really wasn't open to American citizens.

June 28, 2007 (Computerworld) -- Cisco Systems Inc. placed a help wanted ad for a network consulting engineer in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, June 3, and David Huber, a networking professional who lives in Chicago, was interested in the job. The ad copy read, "No phone calls please." But Huber, a University of Chicago graduate whose prior work included being the lead LAN/WAN network engineer for NASA's aborted X-33 rocket plane project, called Cisco and asked for the person named in the ad. "Before I send my resume into a black hole, I always like to talk to the recruiter first," he said this week. A Cisco telephone operator gave Huber the phone number of an immigration law firm in Santa Clara, Calif. "Why would I be talking with somebody at an immigration law firm about this?" he wondered. Huber said his question was answered a couple of weeks later when he saw the controversial YouTube video that shows an attorney from a Pittsburgh law firm providing advice to employers on how to deal with government requirements for seeking U.S. workers to fill jobs before hiring foreign workers. "It seems obvious to me after that video what's going on," Huber said.

The controversial YouTube video:

YouTube.com description of the above video:
PERM Fake Job Ads defraud Americans to secure green cards "Immigration attorneys from Cohen & Grigsby explain how they assist employers in running classified ads with the goal of NOT finding any qualified applicants, and the steps they go through to disqualify even the most qualified Americans in order to secure green cards for H-1B workers." "See what Bush and Congress really mean by a shortage of skilled U.S. workers." "Microsoft, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard, and thousands of other companies are running fake ads in Sunday newspapers across the country each week." Note: Cohen & Grigsby's immigration practice attorney, Lawrence M. Lebowitz, is the featured speaker in the above video.

Patrick Thibodeau and Computerworld were able to get a response from Cisco regarding David Huber's complaint.

Jennifer Greeson, a spokeswoman for Cisco, acknowledged that the ad for the network consulting engineer that Huber spotted was placed to meet U.S. Department of Labor requirements for hiring foreign workers. But, she said, "it is a real job ad" that was intended "to determine whether there is someone who meets our need" in the U.S. American workers are being considered for the position, she added. Moreover, Greeson said that Cisco is aggressively hiring U.S. workers. The networking vendor has added 8,000 or so employees in the U.S. over the past two years and now has about 32,000 workers in this country, she said. Some of the employee growth is because of acquisitions, but most of it has been from job growth at the company, according to Greeson. Cisco is also a major user of H-1B visas, having been issued 828 during the federal government's fiscal year that ended last September, according to government figures released last month by U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Cisco ranked 13th on the list of the largest H-1B employers, which was topped by India-based Infosys Technologies Ltd. with 4,908 visas.

Left a telephone message with Jennifer Greeson at Cisco seeking comment and received the following email response:

"I do want to point out that as Patrick's story notes, Cisco hired approximately 800 H-1B workers during FY '06, a period of healthy growth for the company." "I'd hardly call this a majority of the few thousand we hired during the same period (and approx. 8000 over the past two years)... jobs in the United States that help fuel local economic growth, contribute to the overall tax base, etc." "At the same time, Cisco works with the rest of the tech industry to address a shortage of qualified American engineers and to improve math/science training in the US education system." "Cisco Network Academies are in their tenth year of operation, having educated more than 2 million students around the world." "Cisco also works closely with the education community overall to improve standards of education and provide opportunity to disadvantaged youth, investing in many initiatives including the 21S program in the area impacted by Katrina." "Finally, Cisco remains committed to recruiting the most talented workforce we can as we grow in the US and abroad." "We are proud of our efforts to find the best and the brightest workers at home and abroad, which help us continue to innovate, create more jobs and deliver value to our shareholders."

Taking into consideration the response of Cisco spokesperson Jennifer Greeson above, obvious questions that come to mind include: Why would Cisco purposely use a "tactic" suggested in the YouTube video above by the immigration law firm of Cohen & Grigsby to deploy a fake newspaper job ad? Why suspect the Cisco newspaper ad was fake and inline with the guideline outlined by the YouTube video? Mr. Huber was referred to Cisco's immigration law firm and not Cisco's HR department. Since when do American citizens need to talk with Cisco's immigration law firm about jobs and not Cisco's HR department? Another reason to suspect the Cisco newspaper ad was fake and inline with the guideline outlined by the YouTube video: Cisco did not admit to hiring any of the Americans who applied for the job after seeing the ad. Why not? If Cisco didn't properly consider US citizens who applied to the job ad, then the ad was fake. Why does Cisco appear to comply with the "letter of the law," only for the intended purpose of "legally disqualifying" American citizens in order to "legally" hire H-1B visa holders? Ms. Greeson, Cisco's actions clearly contradict your statement: "Cisco is proud of our efforts to find the best and the brightest workers at home." If so, why does Cisco appear to be legally trying to disqualify American citizens for U.S. based jobs? My personal concern is that American citizens were not hired to fill a large percentage of the 8,000 new jobs that Cisco created in the U.S. over the last 2 years. By Cisco stating they hired 8,000 new employees in the U.S. over the last 2 years, Cisco was "implying" that those 8,000 new Cisco employees hired in the U.S. were American citizens. Cisco is clearly not hiring American citizens for many new Cisco jobs created in the U.S. John Earnhardt, senior manager of global media operations for Cisco Systems, responded to my concern:

Brad, we do not disclose our H-1B figures. The main point of this blog is to refute the allegation that jobs were somehow leaving the U.S. and being replaced elsewhere. This simply is not true. Further, we have hired in the U.S. at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world.

My personal conclusion, Cisco is definitely hiring for U.S. based jobs, however, many of these new jobs are not being filled by American citizens, but rather by H-1B visa holders. Related stories: Network World - Cisco denies moving American jobs to India eWeek Channel Insider - H-1B Increase Dealt Death Blow

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