Yep. The obvious "fix" that nobody seems to be taking very seriously yet is making it much more difficult to get permission to hire an H1-B worker.
Corporations are ALWAYS going to push for a plentiful supply of these as a cost savings measure, but it's ultimately the government who issues them. It's about time they start putting pressure on companies to PROVE they're unable to hire from the talent pool of American citizens before qualifying to go the H1-B route.
You are correct in that the reason nobody is seriously talking about making it more difficult is that most of the lobbying taking place is focused on making it easier. The major contract placement companies overseas will in many cases, hold the applicants passport and the company they end up working for will hold the visa. The worker is compelled to do the job and keep their mouth shut at all cost. If the worker is fired or they quit of their own volition, the company reports to the contracting agency and the agency recalls the worker. This could be a devastating blow for the worker so they will do whatever it takes to keep the job. Doing whatever it takes usually translates to "work for peanuts".
In addition, many of these workers are often housed by the contracting company or in some cases directly by the employer. This makes the worker even more dependent. Sometimes the living conditions are cramped to an obscene degree. I personally have witnessed this. 18 "IT" workers were all housed in a 4 bedroom home, just off campus of a large banking corporation in the upper mid-west. I had to go pick these guys up every day for a couple weeks while I was getting my visa processed to go do a migration at our branches in England.
The end result for these workers is that they become indentured after a fashion. Much like the coal and other miners back in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Miners lived in what were essentially settlements owned by the company. Want to buy flour to make bread? Only place to get it was the company store. The store only traded in credit "chits". At the end of the pay period, the miner got his chits and there was usually just not enough pay to cover all the debt. If you still owed the company credit, you could not leave the area and so, back to the mine you went. This created a never ending cycle of indentured servitude (slavery, if you will).
What we are seeing now with our over-zealous attempt to hasten the processing of illegal immigrants and H1B visa applications is a modern day version of the same old game. One mistake that seems to be ignored in this process is the long term, unintended consequences of making 5m quasi citizens. The stick has been removed from the equation for these people/workers. They will rightfully demand higher wages (minimum wage) and the employer can no longer hold deportation over their head as an incentive. The theory is that the company leadership/owners will just knuckle under and start paying higher wages. I submit that they will not. Instead, I suspect they will begin replacing these newly emancipated former wage slaves with newly minted illegal immigrants and the process will simply continue unabated. The last couple of paragraphs have not been strictly on topic but because immigration reform and H1B visa issues have somehow become combined in the public eye, it seemed appropriate to bring it into the conversation.
My thoughts on how to reform immigration and in some degree lessen the impact on the plight of the American worker would not provide for an all inclusive solution. But, perhaps someone else would be willing to take up a challenge to participate in the discussion as well. First, we MUST reduce the red tape required for legal processing of normal immigration requests and requests for citizenship. Note that I am not saying reduce the requirements. From personal experience (my wife is a naturalized citizen) the process is rife with what appears to be a woeful lack of competence on the part of the vast number of government employees that by default are included in the day to day workings of the application process. Second, the requests that are already legitimately in the pipeline should have a higher priority than all other actions to establish a "path to citizenship". Third, real significant enforcement actions should be taken against companies that are currently and in the future engaged in the illegal use of non-citizens. Finally, every effort should be made to screen applicants for violent criminal history and reject those applications and follow through with appropriate deportation actions.
I know there is more that could be done but as I'm merely a layman in this regard, no doubt I would get it wrong.