The New York Times, in a recent article about the prospect that H-4 aliens will not be allowed to continue to work, wrote sympathetically about the plight of a two-guestworker family that may become a one-guestworker family under the proposal: “She began fretting about how they would afford their $4,800 monthly mortgage.”
The situation is that the family, including an H-1B alien worker and his H-4 alien worker wife, both currently working in the U.S. economy, were worried that the latter would lose her job should the administration roll back an Obama-era scheme in which some of the H-4 dependents of H-1B workers are allowed work permits.
Let’s use the mortgage payment to put this picture into perspective. According to one of those handy mortgage payment calculators on the internet, a $4,800 a month mortgage payment, at current rates, would cover a $1,036,458 mortgage at 30 years, or a $683,110 mortgage at 15 years.
Let’s go with the 30-year instrument, and assume that a down payment of something like 10 percent (or about $104,000) had been paid. This would place the purchase price of the house in question at about $1,150,000.
I know that house prices have been rising, but are we being asked to worry about the financial mistreatment of people living in $1,150,000 houses? What portion of the overall U.S. population lives in $1,150,000 houses?
Maybe, if we did not have both the ever-expanding H-1B and H-4 programs, a couple of U.S. citizens or green card holders would have the jobs that support that kind of house?
That, of course, is a possibility that the Times would never suggest.
The article, unwittingly, tells us that foreign workers aren’t just taking jobs from the powerless and unskilled workers of this country, as they have for decades, but that they are taking them from the middle class as well.
Maybe the middle class (at least those in or near high tech) will notice. Maybe.
David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, has over 40 years of immigration policy experience.