NEW YORK – California Democrat Congressman Ro Khanna has said that American lawmakers should make sure that the H-1B visa program is not abused to undercut the U.S. job market and instead attract the best and the brightest employees into the country.
A non-immigrant visa, the H1-B visa allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require expertise in specialized fields and is sought after mostly by Indian IT professionals.
“There are people who are now leading huge tech companies that started out on H-1B visas. They are creating jobs and they’re creating innovation. We want to make sure that talent is coming to the US, because we know that most H-1B visas when you look at those studies are job creators. They are not job takers,” said Khanna, speaking at an event organized by the South Asia Centre of Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank. “But we want to make sure that it’s being done with proper compensation. That they are not being underpaid that they’re not that they’re being paid a wage that is the prevailing wage,” he added.
“The gist of it is that we want to make sure that folks are coming on and H1-B visa are paid a high wage so that it’s not undercutting the American market and people are not mistaking H-1B visa holders as something that benefits corporations and putting downward pressure on American wages. That they’re really looking at it is a program that’s going to help get the best and brightest into the United States to create jobs in the US,” he continued.
Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley in the House of Representatives, said that it would obviously be illegal to single out any company based on nationality, race or religion.
“I certainly don’t believe in doing that. So the question is just about having a wage floor. If it turns out that you know a lot of the tech companies Apple and Google and Facebook if you look at their filings their H-1B filings are paying about and $120,000- 130,000 on average. If other companies are doing that that’s fine,” he said.
He went on to exerting that Indian Americans have extraordinary contributions in Silicon Valley, “I mean you’ve got people like Vinod Khosla, Sunder Pichai, at Google; I mean the list is endless in terms of individuals” asserting that immigration strengthens the United States’ economic competitiveness.
He also said that the recent move of President Donald Trump on issues related to this, has tried to undermine the conception of America.
“I have always believed that our advantage is that we are a country that welcomes anyone to be American. That’s not a Democratic idea that was Ronald Reagan’s idea… This president in recent times has probably tried to undermine that conception of America more than any president certainly in my lifetime,” Khanna said.
“It strengthens it in terms of a lot of the innovation where I represent Silicon Valley. I think it would be hard pressed to argue that we would have Silicon Valley if it weren’t for being a magnet for the best and brightest from around the world. It’s one of the things that makes the value unique,” he added emphasizing that immigration is what strengthens this country.