Washington: Republican presidential hopeful and real estate tycoon Donald Trump on Wednesday said he was not opposed to H-1B visas – popular with Indian IT professionals – and favours talented foreign students staying in the US after completing their studies and working in the Silicon Valley.
“I am in favour of people coming into this country legally. And you know what? They can have it anyway you want. You can call it visas, you can call it work permits, you can call it anything you want,” Trump said participating in the third Republican presidential debate.
69-year-old Trump, who according to the latest CBS/New York Times poll has lost his frontrunner status, was asked if he was in favour of H-1Bs or if he was opposed to them. Trump was joined by Florida Senator Marco Rubio – despite their past difference on the issue in particular H-1B visas who said that he supports legal migration that attracts the best of the talented people from across the world.
“I am all in favour of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley,” Trump said strongly denying that he ever criticised Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who has been lobbying hard to expand H-1B work visa which is highly popular among Indian IT professionals.
“I was not at all critical of him (Zuckerberg). I was not at all. In fact, frankly, he’s complaining about the fact that we’re losing some of the most talented people. They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country and they’re immediately sent out,” he argued.
“As far as the visas are concerned, if we need people, it’s fine. They have to come into this country legally. We have a country of borders. We have a country of laws. We have to obey the laws. It’s fine if they come in, but they have to come in legally,” he said.
The New York-based real estate tycoon had proposed to raise the minimum wage for the H-1B visas, saying such a move would force companies to give IT jobs to unemployed Americans and not cheaper workers from overseas, including India.
Trump also denied having ever said Rubio as a friend of Zuckerberg. Rubio, 44, on his part denied the allegations that he is the tech industry Saviour because he is supporting the move to increase H-1B visas.
Responding to allegations that the tech industry uses H-1B visa program to undercut hiring and wages for highly qualified Americans, Rubio said if a company gets caught doing that, they should never be able to use the program again.
According to Nasscom that represents the Indian software industry, the Indian tech industry supports over 410,000 jobs through their US operations and paid over USD 20 billion in taxes to the US Treasury between FY2011 and FY2015. The industry also contributed over US $375 million during this period to the US Treasury, including helping America secure its borders.