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A victorious GOP would shape the Senate's H-1B debate

Patrick Thibodeau | Nov. 4, 2014
Five points to consider if Republicans wind up in complete charge of Congress after the midterms.

Five: What won't change next year
There is more than enough support in the Senate and House to increase the H-1B visa cap. There always has been. It's been held back, mostly, by the comprehensive immigration reform issue.

The tech industry has succeeded in reducing or narrowing the issue to one about retaining U.S. graduates. It has the money and the access to shape the debate.

The fact that some companies operating in the U.S. owe their success almost completely to the H-1B visa -- companies with the mission of transferring work overseas -- is only an issue for only minority of lawmakers.

Cautionary arguments by academics and a few policy groups that an H-1B workforce that's overwhelmingly young and male will increase age and sex discrimination, and hurt wages, has been pushed to the fringes.

In short, IT professionals who have been affected by offshoring remain invisible in Washington, regardless of the outcome the election. That's partly due to the layoff process.

An IT professional replaced by a visa-holding offshore worker may be asked to sign a non-disparagement and confidentiality provision as part of the severance. This helps to silence the group of people most affected by the program.

Confidentiality provisions, as well as concerns about finding a new job, is why affected IT professionals have little clout. When they speak it's usually anonymously. The result is that the tech industry can shape the H-1B debate almost entirely in its favor.

 

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