Washington, D.C. (March 31, 2011) – The House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement last week held a hearing on “H-1B Visas: Designing a Program to Meet the Needs of the U.S Economy and U.S Workers.”
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (Center for Advancing Justice) urged the subcommittee to acknowledge the positive impact the H-1B visa program has on maintaining America’s competitive edge in the global economy, and to also consider legislative changes that will protect H-1B workers.
“The H-1B visa program is an important tool in ensuring that America has sufficient numbers of skilled, specialized workers to keep our country competitive,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “H-1B workers are particularly important during this time of economic recovery.”
Research has shown that for each H-1B position requested, U.S. technology firms increase their employment by five workers.
“We know that immigrants, including H-1B workers, help create jobs and other economic opportunities for U.S workers. The high-tech industry, in particular, has benefited tremendously from the talent and brainpower of H-1B workers,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of the Asian American Institute.
Because of the problems with the current program and the slow economic recovery, a number of highly skilled workers have been terminated. These workers, after spending many years living and working in America, are faced with the harsh realities of not being able to find work in their fields and are forced to leave the United States to return to their countries of origin to find work. This specifically impacts the Asian American community because the majority of H-1B workers come from Asian countries.
Titi Liu, executive director of the Asian Law Caucus, said: “Congress should reform the H-1B program to make it easier for H-1B workers to change employers, and also give H-1B workers a grace period if they lose their job and need to find a new employer to sponsor them. These changes will be good for H-1B workers as well as U.S. workers and employers.”
“H-1B workers complement the existing American workforce and fill important gaps in skill. Our economy would benefit from a more generous H-1B program that protects immigrant workers,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center.