Republican candidates

For those U.S. professionals who have been undertaking the futile task of complaining about the H1B visa abuses for over twenty years, you can thank a Howard University professor, Ronil Hira and Walt Disney for U.S. lawmakers finally beginning to take a serious look at this issue (2015-2016).

When the iconic American corporation, Walt Disney fired 250 tech workers making over $100,000 per year in 2015, and replaced them with H1B visa holders from an Indian out sourcing company at a rate of about $64,000 per year, this became a major NY Times story. The point was driven home when the U.S. displaced workers were then required to train their replacements in order to be awarded their severance pay.This story brought home to US. lawmakers the exact situation that their constituents had been describing to them for years.

Howard University Professor, Ronil Hira testified in Congress about H-1B visas.
Howard University Professor, Ronil Hira testified in Congress about H-1B visas.

One of the experts on this subject, a Howard University professor, Ronil Hira testified before a U.S. Senate hearing. He was very detailed in his educating these lawmakers. Through the “Freedom of Information” Act, he has been able to definitively prove that outsourcers like Infosys, Tata, Wapro, HCL (based mostly in India), garner the lions share of these visas. Then the American companies which hire from them, almost always fire U.S. workers to replace them with this cheaper labor.

This is in contrast with Silicon Valley companies which really do need to hire more highly qualified tech employees and who willingly pay high wages to foreign holders of the H1B visas. These workers are an addition. The original laws were designed to meet this need and NOT for the abuses as described above.

With Donald Trump harping against the H1B visa program, there may actually be some reforms enacted into law. Senator Bernie Sanders regularly mentions this issue on his campaign stumps. Hillary Clinton never talks about the H1B visa issue. In response to Donald Trump, some of the other republican candidates like the Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are being more nuanced in their verbiage about the H1B visas. Anything they say is suspect because until recently, they along with Jeb Bush and John Kasich have been in favor of increasing the current cap of 85,000 H1B visas allowed per year.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders

In a 11/25/15 Computer World article, Patrick Thibodeau describes in greater detail the stances of those contenders who are currently vying for the U.S. presidential position. Here are some excerpts from his reporting:

“Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to reform the H-1B program, in part, by “substantially” raising prevailing wages.’

“A wage increase is one of the things sought by Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, in his just-released immigration platform.”

“An increase in prevailing wages is seen by critics of the H-1B program as a way to discourage businesses from using foreign labor to replace U.S. workers. “If there is a true labor shortage, employers must offer higher, not lower, wages,” said Sanders, in his platform.”

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Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush

“Sanders, a critic of the H-1B program, also opposes the current system of “binding workers to a specific employer.” Employers hold the temporary visas that foreign workers use, and it is not easy for visa workers to move to potentially better jobs.”

“Sanders’ plan also calls for a “whistle-blower visa” for workers reporting labor violations.”

“Sanders doesn’t go into great detail about his work visa proposal, but at least he brings it up. His main opponent in the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, doesn’t discuss the H-1B visa at all in her “comprehensive” immigration platform.”

“Among the leading Republican presidential candidates, Donald Trump, the billionaire developer, has emerged as the chief H-1B critic for his party. Like Sanders, Trump wants prevailing wages increased. Another candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), is on the cusp of reversing his previously supportive position and is working on reform legislation (with Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL,).

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Senator Marco Rubio and Donald Trump

Republican candidates who are seen as H-1B supporters and would likely back an increase in the annual cap on the visas are former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). (During the October 2015 debate, he added the caveat of requiring companies that want to hire skilled foreign workers to first advertise the job for 180 days as well as obligating them to prove that they are going to pay these people more than they would pay Americans. What belies his words, is his“Gang of Eight” amnesty bill with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) which would have massively increased H-1B visas, as would legislation Rubio is currently pushing in this Congress—the I-Squared bill.)

“Hillary Clinton may be more aligned with Rubio and Bush than she is with Sanders on the H-1B issue. While serving as a U.S. senator representing New York, Clinton traveled to Buffalo in 2003 to mark the opening of an office of IT services provider Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). That was 12 years ago, but the H-1B issue was very much a subject of controversy by then. TCS is one of the largest users of the H-1B visa.”

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‘The Clinton links to the IT offshore outsourcing industry have continued since then through the work of the Clinton Foundation, where Tata has been participating in its STEM education efforts. In 2011, former President Bill Clinton was paid $260,000 by IT services provider HCL to deliver a speech.”

“What remains to be seen is whether Sanders brings up the differences between him and Hillary Clinton on the H-1B issue, and forces a discussion on the issue.’