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H-1B Visa Program Reform: Hurdles Remain

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The US President's "Buy American And Hire American" Executive Order that mandates a full review of the H-1B visa program for high-skilled foreign workers has evoked serious concern among the American Asian community as well as some Congressmen, while experts say making any change in the visa program would require legislative action by the Congress.

The Executive Order that President Donald Trump signed Tuesday calls to fully enforce the laws governing the entry of foreign workers into the U.S. economy, and directs federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B program that prevents the displacement of American workers.

A leading South Asian advocacy group said it rejects the premise that U.S.-born and foreign workers should be pitted against each other to "ensure the integrity" of the immigration system and serve the national interest.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) expressed concern that the Executive Order will encourage immigration raids at businesses and other places of employment, further underscoring this administration's commitment to criminalizing immigrants.

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R.-Minn., whose district is home to many medical technology companies, said the H-1B visa program is an important tool for attracting and retaining top talent in STEM careers, and "We shouldn't kick people out of the country so they can become our competitors, especially if they were trained and educated in the U.S."

Any changes in the current visa program would require either Congressional action, changing statutory requirements, or regulations that would trigger President Trump's prior executive order ordering agencies to rescind two regulations for every new regulation proposed," according to immigration expert Rebecca Bernhard.

In her opinion, contrary to recent rhetoric, H-1B visas do not generally act as a mechanism to replace American workers. "Instead, US businesses use the H-1B to gain access to the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from US universities, to complement the US workforce".

by RTT Staff Writer

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