This week, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) spoke out on the contentious issue of the H-1B visa program, arguing for moderation and consideration if any reforms are adopted.
This visa program, designed with the intent of helping U.S. companies fill gaps in the workforce with foreign employees, has received increased attention ever since it became a talking point of the Trump campaign. The issue appears to be heating up, as last week 60 Minutes devoted an entire segment to the issue.
Although the original intent of the H-1B program was to strengthen U.S. companies, opponents argue that these visas are being abused as a means to hire cheaper foreign labor at the expense of U.S. workers.
The president and several members of Congress have said that they wish to overhaul the visa program. However, time is running out. The application deadline for next year’s visas falls in the first week of April. So if new rules are not in place before then, it will be another year before changes can take effect.The issue of these visas is of particular importance to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as she is the newly elected co-chair of the India Caucus of the House of Representatives, and
nearly 70% of H-1B visas granted in 2015 were for individuals from India.
In an interview for Hindustan Times, Rep. Gabbard was asked about her views on the visa issue:
“We need an immigration policy that both strengthens our American economy and workforce, and that recognizes the economic contributions that Indians and Indian-Americans continue to make here in the United States, without fear that a change in politics will put their business at risk or separate their family. We cannot make blanketed cuts or limitations on immigration that do not take into account the broader economic and social impact for our country and for our friends around the world.”
Typical of Gabbard’s style, she advocates for moderation with reform to the visa program. Gabbard is known for working across the aisle, and has therefore garnered respect from across the political spectrum. It is not surprising that her view on such a contentious issue places her somewhere in the middle, as she is both open to improvements, but wishes to protect immigrants and their families.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced it would halt the expedited processing of H-1B visas, but no major changes to the program have been made. Thursday, Trump’s labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta, spoke about the program, essentially saying he has seen some concerning reports and he believes the visa issue needs to be looked at more closely.