Thanks to a certain real estate developer/game show host, immigration has taken a place as one of the central issues in these early days of the U.S. presidential race. With talk of border fences, anchor babies and birthright citizenship, in the news, candidates for the Republican nomination have been unable to ignore the compelling, yet divisive, issue of immigration.
One area of the immigration debate that has gotten less attention is the H-1B visa. Interestingly, many of the candidates – who purport to be pro-business – favor provisions which would hurt U.S. companies by restricting the availability of H-1B visas to qualified professionals. For example, Donald Trump’s immigration plan proposes to mandate increased wages as a way of protecting unemployed U.S. professionals. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee have offered plans intended to deter the hiring of H-1B foreign workers. In contrast, Florida Senator Marco Rubio is a co-sponsor of the “I-Squared Bill”, which would triple the annual cap on H-1B workers. And, in 2013, Texas Senator Ted Cruz supported an increase in the H-1B cap from its current level of 65,000 to 325,000. The Democratic frontrunners have expressed opposing views on the H-1B program as well. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is against increasing the H-1B cap size, whereas former Senator/former Secretary of State/former First Lady Hilary Clinton has expressed support for increasing the cap to meet the needs of U.S. employers.
Undoubtedly, as the campaign continues towards the primary season, candidates will be pressed for more specific answers on how they plan to fix our broken immigration system and how they view immigration provisions affecting U.S. business and the economy. For more information about the candidates’ H-1B views please click here.