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FLOOR STATEMENT: H-1B Visa Reform

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

   Let me say a few words about the H-1B visa. Senator Grassley and I took a look at these H-1B visas. These are special visas with specialty talents to come in because there are not enough Americans with those talents. We took a look at those H-1B visas and, unfortunately, there are some companies that are gaming the system. There have been exposes across America where these so-called H-1B brokerage houses have been created. These are not high-tech companies looking for people with H-1B visas. These are companies, by and large in India, that try to bring in Indian engineers to fill jobs in the United States.

   The H-1B visa job lasts for 3 years and can be renewed for 3 years. What happens to those workers after that? Well, they could stay. It is possible. But these new companies out of India have a much better idea for making money. They send the engineers from India to America to fill spots--and get money to do it--and then after the 3 to 6 years, they bring them back to India to work for the companies that are competing with American companies. They call it their outsourcing visa. They are sending their talented engineers to learn how Americans do business and then bring them back and compete with those American companies. Is that what we have in mind here? Is that our goal, to create more opportunities for people to create businesses around the world to compete with us? I think not.

   Senator Grassley and I are trying to tighten up the H-1B visa. We wish to make sure that only those who are absolutely necessary are brought in, and, first and foremost, that we fill job vacancies with Americans who are out of work and Americans who are graduating from schools and developing the skills that are needed. Our first responsibility, whether it is in guest workers or H-1B visas, is to hire Americans first.

   The amendment the Senate will consider in a short period of time, No. 1231, which Senator Grassley and I have offered, applies to the guest worker program. But it comes down to this basic concept, and I hope my colleagues will support me: Shouldn't this new guest worker program include the same protections for American workers? I think they should. Otherwise, in the future, we are going to see companies advertising that no Americans need apply for these jobs. We don't want that to occur. We wish to make it perfectly clear that companies doing business in the United States must first give priority to American workers; that they are bound by law to do that.

 


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