H-1B Debate Will Benefit from Reason, not Rhetoric

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With all of the rhetoric surrounding the H-1B visa issue, we find ourselves longing for a little reason.


That's exactly what we got in an IT Business Edge interview with offshoring expert Ron Hira. Though Indian officials reacted testily to a request from two U.S. senators that nine Indian outsourcing firms provide more specific details about how they utilize H-1B visas, Hira does not see the request as unreasonable.


"This is the first time that much of this data has come to light. Why has it taken so long?" says Hira. "How can you have a rational policy-making process without the critical information? The reason we don't have it is, of course, companies have been unwilling to reveal it."


Of the several H-1B legislative proposals currently being debated, Hira favors the one sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the two politicians who made the information request, largely because it would increase government oversight of the H-1B program. "The idea that companies should self-police themselves -- the system we have right now -- is misguided," he says.


Hira taps a lack of oversight as one of three major problems that plague the program, along with an absence of labor market caps and prevailing wage rules so riddled with loopholes that many companies pay their H-1B workers far less than their American counterparts earn.


Hira doesn't deny that the H-1B visa cap may need to be raised. But he doesn't think any increase should occur until those problems have been addressed. He also supports boosting the green card quota, a solution also supported by the IEEE-USA and other industry groups.