The Indian American legislator says we “cannot allow for companies to underpay foreign workers and use them to replace American workers.”
A new bipartisan bill to “reform and reduce fraud and abuse” in H-1B and L1 visa was introduced in the US House of Representatives on Thursday.
Ro Khanna, an Indian American Democrat who represents California’s 17th district in the San Francisco Bay Area’s tech heartland, is one of the cosponsors of the bill, which was introduced by New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell, Jr.
The other co-sponsors are Rep. Dave Brat (R-Virginia) and Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona).
H.R.1303 is a companion bill to the “H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2017,” which was introduced in the Senate by longtime H-1B critics Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dick Durbin (D-Michigan).
“We have skilled, high-tech professionals here in America,” said Pascrell, in a press release. “Many are unemployed and carrying the debt of advanced degrees. Some businesses, by ‘in-sourcing’ and exploiting foreign workers, are abusing the visa programs – undercutting our workforce to reap the rewards.”
He added that abusing the visa program “to get cheap labor hurts the American middle class” is “something I cannot accept.”
The bill, according to Pascrell, “would close loopholes in the H-1B and L visa programs to reduce fraud and abuse, provide protections for American workers and visa holders, and require more transparency in the recruitment of foreign workers.”
This “legislation would overhaul the H-1B and L-1 visa programs” to protect American workers “and crack down on foreign outsourcing companies which deprive qualified Americans of high-skill jobs,” it added.
Khanna, a freshman who represents parts of Silicon Valley, said the bill is intended to end H1-B abuses. “As the son of immigrants, I know that immigrants strengthen our nation and economy,” he said. “But we cannot allow for companies to underpay foreign workers and use them to replace American workers. Instead, we need American companies to invest in our own workforce. The bill will prevent the exploitation of foreign workers while still recognizing the contributions immigrants make to our economy.”
Speaking to CNNTech, Khanna said “there’s a mood in the nation that wants to fix abuse and he “cautiously optimistic” about the passage of the bill.
But Khanna’s involvement has already drawn negative responses from a section of the Indian American community.
“Please note: Ro Khanna, an Indian American politician funded heavily by NRIs, is championing restrictions on H1B,” tweeted Rajiv Malhotra, a former tech executive and Hindu activist.
Also, on Thursday two members of Congress introduced legislation to crack down on outsourcing of call centers.
H.R.1300, introduced by Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and David McKinley (R-West Virginia) requires “the Secretary of Labor to maintain a publicly available list of all employers that relocate a call center overseas, to make such companies ineligible for Federal grants or guaranteed loans, and to require disclosure of the physical location of business agents engaging in customer service communications, and for other purposes.”