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Trump turns to H-1B advocates for advice

Patrick Thibodeau | Jan. 20, 2017
Trump's CEO advisers offshore jobs, and want the H-1B cap to increase.

In his campaign for president, Donald Trump tapped into the viral anger over H-1B use. The outsourcing of high-skill jobs is a "tremendous threat," he said. Disney workers who trained visa-holding replacements spoke at some of his rallies.

But soon after the election, President-elect Trump assembled a 16-member team of CEO-level executives to advise him on job creation, including many from firms that send jobs overseas and have advocated for an H-1B cap increase.

Trump's appointments included one of the pioneers of offshore outsourcing to India: Jack Welch, the former chairman and CEO of General Electric. Also on this committee is Bob Iger, the chairman and CEO of Disney, whose offshoring of Disney IT workers was a topic at a Republican presidential candidate debate.

The chairman of the "President's Strategic and Policy Forum" is Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and CEO of Blackstone, a private equity firm that is betting on the success of IT offshore outsourcing. Blackstone last year acquired a majority stake in Mphasis, an India-based IT services firm that is categorized by the U.S. as H-1B dependent, meaning 15% or more of its workers are on a visa.

At the time the Mphasis deal was announced, India's Economic Times wrote this about Blackstone: "The all-cash deal reinforces" the "firm's bullish outlook on the outsourcing business as more and more global clients ship out IT jobs to emerging markets such as India and save costs."

Mphasis and Blackstone both declined to comment for this story.

Some members of Trump's advisory committee belong to groups that advocate for an H-1B cap increase. Iger, for instance, is also one of eight co-chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, a high-profile organization advocating for an increase in the H-1B visa cap.

Following Trump's appointments, the Partnership for New York City, a business group, issued a report (PDF) detailing five "federal priorities." One priority includes immigration reform to increase the H-1B cap and allowing U.S. companies "to hire skilled workers based on labor market demands, not fixed and arbitrary quotas."

The Partnership for New York noted in this report that six of its members were members of Trump's economic advisory committee.

The partnership wrote: "Policies that promote the continued growth and vitality of New York City and the nation will have forceful advocates on President-elect Donald Trump's recently announced Strategic and Policy Forum, chaired by partnership co-chair Stephen Schwarzman (Blackstone) and including partnership members Jamie Dimon (CEO, JPMorgan Chase), Larry Fink (CEO, BlackRock), Rich Lesser (Boston Consulting Group), Ginni Rometty (CEO, IBM) and Mark Weinberger (CEO, EY)."

 

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