Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Senate Amendment 4075 - Prevents Automatic Increase of 20% in H-1b visa

In the Senate version of the immigration bill, a provision that would increase the H-1b visa cap to 115,000 and by 20% each time that cap is reached was included. This provision is of course devestating to American software professionals. If it is passed without change, it will result in the loss of additional software jobs. From 2000 through 2004 we averaged a loss of 8000 software jobs each year - and industry lobbyists still have the audacity to claim a shortage.

The IEEE-USA as well as myself supports SA 4075 introduced by Senator Feinstein. This amendment would strip out the 20% automatic increase in the H-1b cap. This is the provision that industry claims is "market driven". The only driver for this cap is a demand for cheap and exploitable labor.

I have proposed a system that would base the cap off of true demand, and would rise and fall given that demand. The Senate plan only goes up - and doesn't account for periods when American software professionals lose jobs. It has no consideration for the impact on the labor market and is designed to be a labor subsidy. That will drive down American wages. This will discourage American college students from pursuing Computer Sciences and the IT profession.

Unfortunately, SA 4075 may not be voted on because the Senate voted on cloture which limits debate. Please call your senator and ask them to vote on SA 4075. The IEEE-USA had this to say in an update:

UPDATE: The Senate has moved to close debate on S. 2611, and is working through a short list of amendments prior to a final vote on the bill expected on 25 May. It appears that the Feinstein-Grassley amendment will be denied a vote on procedural grounds despite efforts of IEEE-USA and others.

Full text of the amendment:
SA 4075. Mrs. FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mr. GRASSLEY) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by her to the bill S. 2611, to provide for comprehensive immigration reform and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:
On page 343, strike lines 12 through 24 and insert the following:
(B) in subparagraph (A)--
(i) in clause (vii), by striking ``each succeeding fiscal year; or'' and inserting ``each of fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006; and''; and
(ii) by adding after clause (vii) the following:
``(viii) 115,000 in each succeeding fiscal year; or''; and
On page 344, line 7, strike the semicolon at the end and all that follows through line 24 and insert a period.

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