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Senate Committee Holds Hearing on H-1B Program and Skilled U.S. Worker Displacement


The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on March 17, 2015, entitled “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers.” The hearing focused on the effects of the H-1B visa program and other temporary worker programs on skilled U.S. workers. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the committee, charged that the H-1B program is “highly susceptible to fraud and abuse.” He noted that he and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have introduced legislation to require, among other things, employers seeking to hire an H-1B worker to first make a good faith effort to recruit a U.S. worker.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) also released a statement. He noted the “meaningful contribution that immigrant workers make to the U.S. economy, and the ways in which a healthy immigration system can grow the country’s economic base and create jobs that benefit all Americans.” He said that hearing witness Bjorn Billhardt came to the United States as a high school exchange student, later earned degrees from the University of Texas and Harvard Business School, and subsequently stayed in the United States to start a successful education business that now employs over 40 people. “Mr. Billhardt’s experience illustrates the value of an immigration system that welcomes diverse backgrounds and keeps promising graduates of our universities here in the United States, where they can contribute to our culture and our economy,” Sen. Leahy said.

Witnesses at the hearing included Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO; Prof. Ron Hira, Howard University; Bjorn Billhardt, Founder and President, Enspire; Jay Palmer, an American worker from Alabama; Benjamin E. Johnson, Executive Director, American Immigration Council; John Miano, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers; and Prof. Hal Salzman, E.J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, J.J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Rutgers University.

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