recommended reading

Groups fight stimulus limit on workers with H-1B visas

Business groups and immigration advocates hope to remove a controversial provision from the Senate's economic stimulus bill that would restrict companies receiving federal bailout funds from hiring highly skilled foreign workers.

The provision was offered by Senate Finance ranking member Charles Grassley and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., as an amendment to the Senate stimulus bill and approved by voice vote Friday.

It would place limits on any company receiving funds under the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program from hiring skilled foreign workers under the H-1B visa program.

The provision is primarily intended to prevent financial institutions from replacing laid off workers with foreigners.

"Wall Street caused the crisis, millions of people lost jobs, including 100,000 in financial institutions. Now they want to bring in foreign workers," Sanders said. "Talk about adding insult to injury."

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have united in opposition to the measure.

Writing to senators to oppose the provision, top officials of the two groups said the amendment "will hurt immigrant workers, the businesses they work for, and the economy."

"U.S. businesses who are trying desperately to recover financially MUST have access to specialty skills inside our country, so they can keep their businesses in the U.S.," according to the letter, which was sent by R. Bruce Josten, the Chamber's vice president for government affairs, and Jeanne Butterfield, executive director of the lawyers association.

A lobbying blitz will be made to try to kill the provision when Senate and House lawmakers negotiate a final stimulus bill in conference, a Chamber official added.

Companies would still be able to hire workers through the H-1B program. But under the Grassley-Sanders language, they must actively recruit U.S. workers, ensure they do not displace American workers and ensure that American workers are not laid off in favor of foreign workers.

Grassley and other advocates say the intention is to ensure that U.S. workers are given priority in hiring.

"With the unemployment rate at 7.6 percent, there is no need for companies to hire foreign guest workers through the H1-B program when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs," Grassley said. "Our common-sense amendment simply ensures that recipients of American taxpayer money make American workers their first priority as they look to hire new employees."

Josten and Butterfield wrote that foreign workers make up a very small percentage of the total workforce at financial institutions. They said major U.S. financial institutions hired only up to 0.74 percent of foreigners under the H-1B program in 2007.

"At a time when the economy is striving to rebound, barring U.S. companies access to the most qualified job applicants, particularly those coming out of U.S. graduate programs, will hinder recovery," they said.

Threatwatch Alert

Social Media Takeover

Qatar News Agency Says Hackers Published Fake Stories

See threatwatch report

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.