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Bipartisan Push Stops Proposal to Deport H-1B Visa Holders Seeking Permanent Residency

January 9, 2018, 10:35 AM HST
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Big Island Now stock image. June 2016.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, and Rep. Kevin Yoder, member of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Jan. 5, 2108, urging his administration to reject a proposal to deport H-1B holders awaiting permanent residency processing.

The H-1B visa, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H), allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations.

Soon after, along with mounting pressure from business, technology and government leaders, the Trump Administration has reportedly backed off from the counterproductive proposal, according to a press release from the office of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

The United States grants 85,000 H-1B visas every year to highly skilled applicants, including roughly 70% for Indians, seeking employment and educational opportunities. According to the National Foundation for American Policy, more than half of privately held companies worth $1 billion or more in the United States had at least one immigrant founder—with many having come to America on an H-1B visa, including the CEOs of both Microsoft and Google.

Rep. Gabbard cosponsored H.R. 392, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, introduced by Rep. Yoder. This bipartisan legislation would remove the existing per-country cap on employment-based green cards and ensure all immigrants are treated equally regardless of their country of origin.

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Reps. Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02), and Kevin Yoder (Kansas-03), released the following statement on Jan. 9, 2018.

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Rep. Gabbard: “H-1B visa holders, many of whom become small business owners and job creators, drive innovation and help build and strengthen our U.S. economy. The Trump Administration’s decision to back off this counterproductive proposal is a positive step forward. While it remains a priority to invest in training and create a pipeline of skilled American workers, we must continue to leverage the talent and expertise of the hundreds of thousands of H-1B visa holders to fill the gaps in our domestic workforce.”

Rep. Yoder: “I have seen personally how high-skilled immigrants have helped my community and so many others across the country by filling critical labor shortages in specific industries, preventing employers from fleeing overseas to fill them. Plus, many of these immigrants hope to eventually start their own businesses and create new jobs here in the United States. These are the people who have helped America grow and thrive as a nation of immigrants and we need to make sure our system continues to value those who are following our laws and doing the right thing.”

“America has provided me and many hundreds of thousands of folks on H1-B an opportunity to further our careers after education,” said Alok Madasani, an H1B visa holder and survivor of last year’s shooting in Olathe, Kansas. “America also taught us that if you are determined and hardworking and follow the established process, there are opportunities for everyone. There are folks who moved here decades ago and have kids going to school here—the place they call home. Every process can be improved continuously for maximum output and current H-1B process can also be improved, but eliminating it on a whole affects much larger audience. I’m grateful the administration has reconsidered these changes to H-1B extensions for folks with pending green card applications and I appreciate Representatives Yoder and Gabbard’s efforts to help us and our families continue staying together here in USA and continue contributing to the society.”

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