Sunday, November 27, 2005

IEEE-USA Applauds Rep. Pascrell for Introducing H-1B Reform Legislation

As anyone in a technical profession knows, the IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society with over 360,000 members. The IEEE-USA has recently supported a bill introduced by Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) called the Defend the American Dream Act of 2005 which was introduced on November 17th.

This bill would require all employers to attest that they have actively recruited U.S. workers to fill jobs before hiring an H-1B worker. This law currently only applies to "H-1B-dependent companies" who have a large percentage of H-1B employers. Unfortunately the law is not enforced; companies like Infosys, Tata, and Wipro have hired very few U.S. workers at their American facilities.

According to the IEEE-USA article the federal Office of Management and Budget found that "The [current H-1B] statute waives a labor market test, does not require submission of supporting documentation by employers, [and] limits the Department of Labor’s authority to review or question [applications]... [leaving] the program vulnerable to fraud or abuse." According to IEEE-USA, Rep. Pascrell's bill will fix these flaws and ensure that the statute aligns with the intent of the program.

Additionally, the law if passed would prevent outplacement (outsourcing or contracting) of H-1B workers by their employers to other companies. We can expect companies like Infosys to lobby hard against this bill because it would effectively put them out of business in the United States if they don't change their hiring practices (which don't include U.S. citizens).

Passage of this bill would fix many of the disparities that have put American software development professionals at a disadvantage and caused abnormally high unemployment rates in our field. This bill would be a win for both American software professionals as well as foreign guest workers who have been abused by some companies --forced to work unusually long hours for well below prevailing wages.

As Americans we need to stand up for the most vulnerable in our nation, which are immigrants. It is in our interests that they be treated fairly.

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