Grassley Works to Make Qualified American Workers a Priority
Senator Chuck Grassley is pressing for consideration of two key amendments to ensure American workers are filling job vacancies in the United States when companies seek to use temporary visa programs to fill those jobs. The amendments were filed to the so-called offshoring bill that is currently being debated in the Senate.
"If this debate is truly about protecting American jobs, these common-sense amendments will go a long way to preventing work from being shipped overseas and ensuring that qualified American workers are first in line for the job openings. Instead of blocking these amendments, the Majority Leader should bring them up for a vote," Grassley said. "In tough economic times like we're seeing, it's even more important that we do everything possible to see that Americans are given every consideration when applying for jobs.
"If there aren't qualified Americans, then companies can legitimately use the visa system. But, today, too many Americans remain unemployed, and we still allow companies to import thousands of foreign workers with little or no strings attached. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask businesses to first determine if there are qualified Americans to fill the vacant positions, and be held accountable for displacing Americans to hire cheaper, foreign labor," Grassley added.
One of the Grassley amendments mirrors legislation Grassley coauthored with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The amendment would prevent any company engaged in a mass lay-off of American workers from importing cheaper labor from abroad through temporary guest worker programs. Companies truly facing labor shortages could continue to obtain employer sponsored visas.
The other amendment is similar to legislation he and Senator Dick Durbin have introduced that would root out fraud and abuse of the H-1B and L Visa programs while making sure Americans have the first chance at high-skilled jobs in the United States. The H-1B visa has been labeled the "outsourcing visa" by India's former Commerce and Industry Minister.
Grassley said the H-1B program is well-known for encouraging companies to take their work offshore. The New York Times reported in 2007 that the H-1B Visa is "a critical tool for Indian outsourcing vendors to gain expertise and win contracts from western companies to transfer critical operations like Bangalore. As Indian outsourcing companies have become the leading consumers of the visa, they have used it to further their primary mission, which is to gain the expertise necessary to take on critical tasks performed by Western companies, and perform them in India at a fraction of the costs."
The H-1B and L Visa amendment would require employers to try and recruit U.S. workers before hiring H-1B visa holders; require employers to pay a better wage to visa holders who take these jobs; expand the powers of the federal government to go after abusers; create new rules regarding the outsourcing and outplacement of H-1B and L-1 workers by their employers to secondary employers in the United States; and establish a new database that employers can use to advertise positions for which they intend to hire an H-1B worker.