Washington: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump today said the H-1B visa programme that he uses to employ high-skilled foreign workers at his own business should end as it is "very unfair" for American workers and has been taking away their jobs.
The last Republican presidential debate in Miami began with all the four White House aspirants slamming the H-1B visa system - popular among Indian techies, with Florida Senator Marco Rubio even naming Tata and India as part of his anti-H-1B rhetoric.
"I know the H-1B very well. And it's something that I frankly use and I shouldn't be allowed to use it. We shouldn't have it. Very, very bad for workers. It's very important to say, well, I'm a businessman and I have to do what I have to do," Trump said while responding to a question on foreign workers, in particular H-1B visas.
"When it's sitting there waiting for you, but it's very bad. It's very bad for business, it's very bad for our workers and it's unfair for our workers. We should end it," he said.
IT professionals from India and major Indian IT companies are major beneficiary of H-1B, a non-immigrant visa in the US which allows US employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in speciality occupations.
Rubio said it is illegal under the H-1B programme to use it to replace American workers. "Under that programme, you have to prove not only that you're not replacing Americans, but that you've tried to hire
Americans. If a company is caught abusing that process, they should never be allowed to use it again," he said.
The second problem with the current structure of the programme people perhaps do not understand is a lot of these companies are not directly hiring employees from abroad, he pointed out.
"They are hiring a consulting company like Tata, for example, out of India. That company then hoards up all of these visas. They hire workers. Disney or some other company hires this company," Rubio said.
"What they're basically doing is they are insourcing and outsourcing. They are bringing in workers from abroad that are not direct employees of a Disney or someone else, they're employees of this consulting business," he said.
"What I argue is that no consulting business such as that should be allowed to hoard up all of these visas, that the visas should only be available for companies to use to directly hire workers and that we should be stricter in how we enforce it," he said.
"It is illegal now, it is a violation of the law now to use that programme to replace Americans. If a company is caught doing that, whether it be Disney or anyone else, they should be barred from using the programme in the future," Rubio said.
Trump said that he has been endorsed by Disney workers – where several people lost their job due to H-1B visa workers. According to the real estate magnate, the fired Disney workers believe that he is the only one who can fix it.
"Because it is a mess. I think for a period of a year to two years we have to look back and we have to see, just to answer the second part of your question, where we are, where we stand, what's going on," Trump said when asked for how long he would pause the H-1B visa programme.
"We have to sort of take a strong, good, hard look and come up with plans that work. We are rushing into things, and we're leading with the chin," he said.
Rubio said if there is an American working at Disney and they bring someone from another country using H-1B to replace their direct job, that is in violation of the law. "What I'm explaining to you is, what they are doing now is they are not -- what they are doing is they are eliminating the job," he said.
"They are outsourcing the entire tech division to a consulting company. They are making the argument that we didn't replace you. We just replaced the whole unit by hiring a company to do it instead. That company that they're hiring is bringing their workers from abroad. It's a loophole they've figured out that we need to close so they can no longer continue to do it that way," Rubio said.
Senator Ted Cruz said the US needs to redefine legal immigration system so that it meets the needs of the American economy.
"Right now, we're bringing in far too many low skilled workers. What that is doing is driving down the wages of hard-working Americans. Our system isn't working. Then on top of that, we've got a system that's allowing in millions of people to be here illegally," he said.
First Published On : Mar 11, 2016 11:19 IST