Macdonald said H-1B use by outsourcing companies means the work is being conducted in the U.S., even if it is done by foreign firms. The U.S. gains tax revenue from it, otherwise that work can be fully outsource overseas, he said.
Former Rep. Bruce Morrison (D-Conn.), who was the author of the 1990 immigration legislation that created the H-1B visa, recently testified in Congress about the H-1B issues in support the IEEE-USA's position. He believes that a better path for the U.S. to address skills needs will be by making permanent residency available to STEM graduates of U.S. universities.
Morrison said he agrees that more skilled workers are needed, but that the U.S. should meet this need by keeping the foreign U.S. university graduates here.
"By getting green cards right away, there is no financial incentive not to hire Americans if they are qualified," said Morrison. Employers also lose their power over foreign workers on H-1B visas if they have to shift from temporary to permanent workers.
"All those disadvantages to American workers go away if you use green cards," said Morrison.
Hira wants changes to the H-1B program. "The principal problem with the H-1B visa program is not the cap," he said. "Instead, the problem is that the majority of H-1Bs are being used to substitute for American workers. The data show this quite clearly -- most H-1Bs are being used for cheaper indentured labor and also for offshoring jobs."
Hira points to legislation recently introduced by Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), bill S.600, which is modeled after similar bills that Grassley had previously introduced. It would raise wages for H-1B workers, give U.S. workers an opportunity for open jobs, and limit the visa's use by IT services firms.
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