U.S. immigration policy is designed to “serve the national interests of the United States,” not the business interests of multinational corporations, IEEE-USA said in a letter sent to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Many people in Congress and industry, as well as five former U.S ambassadors to India, “share a misguided opinion about high-skilled American immigration policy in which they confuse short-term work visas with real immigration,” IEEE-USA Vice President Keith Grzelak said.
“We reject their shortsighted view that American immigration is primarily about economics, not civics; that Congress should limit the ability of individuals to sell their talents on the free market ” and even withhold American citizenship from worthy applicants ” for the sole purpose of enhancing corporate profits.”
The comprehensive immigration bill (S. 744) passed by the Senate and now in the House increases the base cap of H-1B temporary visas from 65,000 to as high as 180,000. This, despite studies showing that many high-tech H-1B recipients are paid lower wages, and required to work longer hours. U.S. employees often find their wages suppressed or lose their jobs to H-1B guest workers.
“Work visas that limit an individual’s right or practical ability to change jobs prioritize companies over people in a way that defies and distorts the free market, hurting American and foreign workers,” Grzelak said.
Computerworld magazine reported in February that the top 10 companies using H-1B visas in FY 2012 specialize in shipping American jobs offshore. The Department of Homeland Security found that the top seven users of L-1 (intracompany transfer) visas in FY 2002-11, and eight of the top 10, were also companies whose business model includes the offshoring of American jobs.
IEEE-USA favors the expansion of legal permanent immigrant visas for foreign technology workers found in S. 744. “It is green cards, not guest workers, that utilize the free market,” Grzelak said. “And these are the visas upon which our high-skill immigration system should be based.”
IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 206,000 engineering, computing and technology professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE.
Chris McManes is IEEE-USA’s public relations manager.