Senators seek to bar bailed-out firms from hiring H-1B holders

February 6th, 2009 - 9:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 6 (IANS) Two US Senators have sought an amendment to the over $800 billion stimulus bill to prohibit businesses receiving government bailout funds from hiring holders of H-1B visas, a bulk of which are cornered by Indians.”Hiring American workers for limited available jobs should be a top priority for businesses taking taxpayer money through the Troubled Assets Relief Programme (TARP),” said Senator Chuck Grassley, who has sponsored the amendment with Senator Bernie Sanders.

“With the unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, there is no need for companies to hire foreign workers through the H1-B programme when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs,” he said.

“I support the H-1B programme, but it should be used in the way it was intended - as a temporary measure to supplement a company’s need for hi-tech or specialised workers when none are available in the US,” Grassley said. He cited a media report that said the banking industry had requested more than 21,000 visas for foreign guest workers over the last six years.

He said that H-1B and other work visa programmes were never intended to replace qualified American workers, and now that many qualified American bank employees are unemployed, banks who want to hire workers shouldn’t have a hard time finding what they need from an American workforce.

“If banks are going to be getting TARP money - American taxpayer money - then they should be hiring American workers,” Grassley said.

In the last Congress too, Grassley had introduced a comprehensive H-1B and L visa reform bill with Senator Dick Durbin to give priority to American workers and crack down on “unscrupulous employers who deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs”.

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