U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech before the U.S.-India Business Council appeared to come out in favor of the H-1B program, but was it a ringing endorsement? Perhaps not. Speaking before an audience that included representatives from offshore outsourcing companies, as reported in Computerworld, Clinton appeared to lend indirect support to arguments raised by India's IT outsourcers that visa restrictions are a form of protectionism. She did not, however, address the merits of the “lost jobs/falling wages” argument so often put forth by critics of the H-1B program—critics who favor such legislation as that introduced by U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that would, among other things, set tougher prevailing wage standards, as well as impose limits on the number of visa workers that a company may employ.
What is needed is recognition not only by Secretary Clinton but, more importantly, by members of Congress that the reason the H-1B cap has not yet been reached is a direct result of market conditions -- and that an artificial quota or “cap” makes no sense as the market clearly dictates the need for H-1B specialty workers. Indeed, empirical data only supports the proposition that H-1B workers create complementary jobs rather than result in a substitution of a foreign-based labor pool for U.S. workers.
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Post Authored By: Anthony F. Siliato, Esq. of Meyner and Landis LLP