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  • Laid Off Disney Workers Speak Publicly For The First Time

    Two of the tech workers Disney laid off in January after being forced to train their foreign replacements on H-1B visas spoke out publicly for the first time in an interview aired Tuesday night.

    “When a guillotine falls on you like that, you’re dead for that moment,” ex-Disney worker David Powers told Rebecca Vergas with Sarasota’s ABC7, referring to the moment he learned he was being laid off. “And I was dead.”

    Powers and Leo Perrero are the first laid off workers to speak publicly about the layoffs — it’s rare for those affected by H-1B layoffs to speak out because of feared consequences from their current or former employer.

    Powers, Perrero and hundreds of his fellow “Cast Members” were laid off in January and allegedly blacklisted from employment at other Disney-solicited contractors after Disney forced them to train their foreign replacements. Both Perrero and Powers had received high commendations from their managers and were expecting a pat on the back in the unexpected layoff-announcement meeting, which took place just ahead of the holiday season.

    “I felt extremely un-American,” Perrero told ABC7. “I felt like I was part of destroying our economy, because I had to train a replacement that was going to come here, take my job but then potentially take other people’s jobs.”

    Disney told ABC7 Powers and Perrero were laid off, but said they created new jobs for IT workers, which has been disputed by those laid off.

    The stated intent of the visa program is to help companies bring in high-skilled foreign workers for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs Americans can’t fill. But some companies including Disney, Southern California EdisonFossil Group and Catalina Marketing, are allegedly using it to cut labor costs. (RELATED: Feds Expand Investigation Of H-1B Abuses As Calls For Action Intensify)

    Several of the workers filed official complaints with the Department of Labor, spurring an ongoing investigation into Disney and other companies’ alleged abuse of the H-1B visa program.

    Perrero and Powers told ABC7 the idea there is a shortage of tech workers is ridiculous, but because of the way businesses are taking advantage of the H-1B program they wouldn’t recommend STEM to students.

    “I would never recommend this field to anybody that is a student because of the lack of opportunity,” Perrero told ABC7. Added Powers: “The STEM program’s a joke.”

    Nearly 75 percent of Americans with STEM degrees are not working in STEM Fields, according to Census data, and only 3.8 million Americans with STEM degrees actually hold STEM jobs.

    After Republican Sen. Marco Rubio essentially ignored the story about his constituents for about two months, a spokeswoman from his Senate office told The Daily Caller News Foundation in June he’s “concerned” about the reports. But Rubio, who is running for president and wants to dramatically expand the H-1B program, did not join Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson’s direct call for an investigation.

    “If the program was misused, then people should be held accountable,” his spokeswoman said at the time, but added he supports the program he says is designed to “protect” American workers. Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also running for president, has also largely ignored the reports. Bush’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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    Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

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