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H-1B Visa Rules: U.S. Lawmakers Oppose ‘Draconian’ Proposed Changes That Will ‘Tear Families Apart’

8 Jan

By Chantal Da Silva, Newsweek

A number of Democratic U.S. lawmakers have joined a growing wave of criticism against President Donald Trump’s administration’s plans to curb H-1B visa extensions, which could result in the deportation of as many as 500,000 to 750,000 predominantly Indian skilled workers, according to

The H-1B program provides temporary U.S. visas that let companies hire foreign professionals who are highly skilled in areas where there are shortages of qualified American workers.

However, the proposed plan to halt extensions of the visas, which was introduced as part of Trump’s Buy American, Hire American initiative, could force hundreds of thousands to leave the U.S. while they wait for their green cards.

Democratic U.S. Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard called the proposed rule changes “draconian,” saying they would only “tear families apart, drain our society of talent and expertise, and damage our relationship with an important partner, India,” according to the Hindu American Foundation.

Donald Trump signs the executive order to bring changes to the H-1B visa guest worker program on a visit to the headquarters of tool manufacturer Snap-On on April 18, 2017, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Getty

“This proposal could lead to the deportation of an estimated 500,000 to 750,000 Indian H-1B visa holders, many of whom are small business owners and job creators who are helping to build and strengthen our US economy,” Gabbard said. “This brain drain will stifle innovation and decrease our ability to compete in the global 21st century economy.”

Ro Khanna, the U.S. Representative for California’s 17th Congressional District, whose parents are Punjabi and immigrated to the U.S. from India, condemned the proposal as “anti-immigrant.” “My parents came here on green cards,” he said. “So did @sundarpichai, @elonmusk, @satyanadella.”

“Trump is saying to immigrants and their kids we don’t have a place in America. It’s not just wrong. It’s dumb. Mr. President, would America really be greater without us?” he asked on Twitter.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois said that while the U.S. should continue to improve advanced training for the domestic workforce, ending the H-1B visa extensions would only encourage companies to move jobs offshore.

“I hope the administration immediately rejects this proposal,” he said.

Hindu American Foundation leaders also have raised concerns over the proposal, saying it “seems squarely aimed at Indian workers in the United States.”

“It’s a baffling calculation. How would deporting hundreds of thousands of skilled workers, the very backbone of our STEM industries, in any way advance an ‘America First’ agenda?” the foundation’s executive director and legal counsel Suhag Shukla said.

“With unemployment at record lows and severe shortages of labor to fill skilled technical positions, this proposal is certain to cripple the efficiency and growth of American businesses,” she said.

Industry leaders in India also have warned that the rule changes could cause a shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. and damage the country’s economy as a result.

The president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies, R. Chandrashekhar, told Business Today: “It is not only about the Indian IT industry, but about all Indians who use H-1B visas.” He added: “Given that there is a real problem of shortage of skilled professionals in the U.S., any disruptive move will be detrimental for both India and the U.S.”