NEW YORK: The hard-hitting ’60 Minutes’ segment on H-1B visas, titled ‘You’re Fired’, which aired on CBS, on Sunday, and focused on how the work visa has been used to displace some American workers by companies based in the US, in tandem with Indian IT service companies, saw a flurry of tweets by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to President Donald Trump urging him to lend support to his bill.
Grassley has sponsored a bill with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), to reform the H-1B visa. It seeks to close some of the loopholes that allows for American companies to use labor from India in a system which is termed ‘knowledge transfer’. It entails a displaced American worker training his replacement from overseas.
Grassley shot off five tweets to Trump. Three of them said:
If u just saw CBS 60minutes abt ripoff H1B visa program is replacing AmWorkers u shld know my/Durbin bill will correct this injustice.
@POTUS read my previous tweet and thx to Pres Trump for getting on board. REMEMBER we can do somethings bipartisan and H1B is good example
@POTUS In other words I’ve been waiting for six yrs for a president interested in fixing H1B and that person has finally arrived/DRAIN SWAMP
Grassley and Durbin’s bill, titled ‘H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act’, introduced earlier this year, would, if put into place, eliminate the H-1B visa lottery system in favor of a “preference system,” which would benefit foreign students on F-1 visa, who get an advanced degree from the US. It would also give visas to those who make a higher grade salary instead of the $60,000 current starting salary, and require employers to make a “good faith effort” to recruit American workers over foreigners, as well as give the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor more authority to investigate fraud and abuse. The bill also creates new restrictions for companies that have more than 50 employees. Under the proposed bill, companies would not be able to hire more H-1B employees if 50% of their employees are already on H-1B and L-1 visa.
The segment on H-1B visas on ’60 Minutes’ was perhaps the most comprehensive one broadcast yet on the controversial subject of foreign workers in the US.
Reported by Bill Whitaker, the highlights included an interview with Robert Harrison, a senior telecom engineer at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, who last October was told abruptly, along with about 80 of his IT co-workers, that they were being fired by workers from India. Their last date would be Feb. 28. They could stay on working till that date, get paid plus a bonus, if they trained their replacement workers from India
Asked if he was angry, Harrison responded: “Pissed. That exceeds angry. I’m really not a violent guy. I love people. But I’ve envisioned myself just backhanding the guy as he’s sitting next to me, trying to learn what I know. And I was like, God, please don’t let them send anybody to sit next to me, to shadow me. I don’t want to do this. I really don’t.”
Whitaker then asks: “I’ve heard some workers say this is like digging your own grave. Is that what it feels like?”
Harrison says: “It feels worse than that. It feels like not only am I digging the grave, but I’m getting ready to stab myself in the gut and fall into the grave.”
The program also saw an interview with former Congressman Bruce Morrison, then Chairman of the Immigration Committee, who authored the H-1B visa bill 25 years ago.
His response to the way the H-1B visa is now being used: “I’m outraged.” He adds: “The H-1B has been hijacked, as the main highway to bring people from abroad and displace Americans.”
The program also interviewed an Indian worker on an H-1B visa, identified only as Rajesh, with his appearance disguised, and voice altered. Rajesh works at a major Wall Street bank.
Rajesh says of his work: “I have to take all of their knowledge in –basically I have to steal it. That’s my job description.” He says the American workers “cry” when they are fired.
“…I am not the enemy. The main villains are the Indian companies and their American Corporate clients. They are exploiting us,” says Rajesh.
The program also saw an interview with Mukesh Aghi, president of the U.S.-India Business Council. He said all companies were trying to maximize profits, and that H-1B visa was part of that system.