Trump’s move to suspend H-1B, other visas draws flak from all quarters

Washington, DC: Top US lawmakers, corporates, and human rights bodies working among the immigrant communities have slammed the Trump administration for suspending H-1B and other foreign work visas till December 31.

President Donald Trump on Monday issued the proclamation to temporarily suspend a number of popular non-immigrant visas, including the H-1B, H-4, H-2B visa, J, and L visas. It came into effect from June 24.

The proclamation also extends till the end of the year his previous executive order that had banned issuing new green cards of lawful permanent residency. The decision, which is being described as part of an ‘America-first recovery’ effort, would free up 5,25,000 jobs in the US for American workers, officials said.

Hit by the pandemic, nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last couple of months. The decision is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies.

Expressing disappointment over the decision, Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the H-1B program, in particular, plays a crucial role in addressing the dangerous shortage of health care professionals while also providing other key sectors of our economy with talent from around the world to not only fill jobs but create new ones. “Suspending this program will only weaken our economy and our health care workforce at a time when they need to strengthen both is as clear as ever,” Krishnamoorthi said. Senator Democratic Whip Dick Durbin and Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Ro Khanna said the government’s decision to temporarily suspend the visas is not the right approach.

The American corporate sector said that the decision will hit innovation, push investment and economic activity abroad, slow growth, and reduce job creation. “Today’s proclamation is a severe and sweeping attempt to restrict legal immigration. Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” said Thomas Donohue, CEO of US Chambers of Commerce.

Sundar Pichai, Indian-American CEO of Google, said that immigration has contributed immensely to America’s economic success, making it a global leader in tech, and also Google, the company it is today. “Disappointed by today’s proclamation – we’ll continue to stand with immigrants and work to expand opportunity for all,” Pichai said.

Vanita Gupta, president, and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, “Trump’s transparent effort to rally his base and distract from his innumerable failures, including his disastrous response to COVID-19, will not work. Indeed, the courts will stop his unlawful actions targeting immigrants.”

Alice G Wells, who till a few weeks ago was the point person of the Trump administration for South and Central Asia, also opposed the move. “Being able to attract the best and the brightest through the H1-B visa program has made America more successful and resilient. Knowing how to tap foreign talent is a US strength, not a weakness!” Wells said.

Human rights bodies, in particular those working among immigrant communities in the US, have slammed the Trump administration’s decision. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said the ban will harm employers, families, universities, hospitals, communities, and delay America’s economic recovery.

“We are all still in the middle of an unprecedented global health and economic crisis that requires us to use all of the tools and resources available to keep Americans healthy and strengthen our economy,” AILA President Jennifer Minear said. (PTI)

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