WASHINGTON: Top US lawmakers has slammed the popular H-1B visa programme and demanded strict action against companies abusing it to replace Americans with low-paid foreign workers, including from India.
“The sad reality is that not only is there not a shortage of exceptionally qualified US workers but across the country thousands of US workers are being replaced by foreign labour,” senator Jeff Sessions, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and The National Interest, said during a Congressional hearing.
Sessions refuted the claims of many US companies about shortage of skilled workers in the US and thus the need to bring in qualified foreign workers from India.
“The data shows that there is no shortage of highly qualified working American professionals, nor is there a shortage of American STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) college graduates every year,” he said.
Senator Patrick Leahy, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee said immigrant visa programmes must be used to complement the US workforce, not displace it.
“We must ensure that current laws are not misused in ways that disadvantage American workers,” he said.
Sharing the concerns Leo Perrero and several other, who were fired by Disney, Leahy said when immigrant visa programmes are misused to depress the wages of American workers and outsource jobs, all workers suffer.
“These programmes should be used to help create opportunities in America, not displace them, but the current allocation system does nothing to achieve that result,” he said.
Testifying before the Senate Committee, Perrero, the fired Disney IT engineer, with teary eyes recollected the days when he was asked by Disney to train foreign skilled workers to replace him.
Perrero said there are many American IT workers who have been displaced by both H1-B visa holders, who are physically being flown in from foreign countries, as well as the growing use of foreign remote offshore workers.
Democratic senator Dick Durbin alleged that the top recipients of H-1B visas are foreign outsourcing companies which use loopholes in the law to disqualify qualified American workers and offshore American jobs.
This, he argued, is contrary to the very purpose for which H-1B visas was established.