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The H-1B positions of Clinton and Trump

Patrick Thibodeau | July 18, 2016
Where the two candidates stand on tech-related immigration

Clinton, similar to President Barack Obama, will accept H-1B reforms only as part of a comprehensive immigration reform proposal. That's a hard line. Some lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, believe it is possible to get some H-1B reforms passed independent of a broader immigration reform package.

If Clinton, as president, couldn't get support for comprehensive immigration reform, would she be willing to seek H-1B reforms? Or would she hold any action on H-1B reforms hostage to comprehensive immigration reform?

Is there reason believe Clinton will deliver H-1B reforms?

Perhaps.

Clinton, in her Vox interview, made two key admissions about the H-1B visa program. She said the use of foreign replacements is a "cost-cutting measure to be able to pay people less than you would pay an American worker." Clinton also said that businesses find it easier to get a foreign worker because they will be "largely compliant."

That H-1B workers are hired because they are less expensive, and more reliant on or compliant with the employers who sponsor the visa, are two major criticisms of the program. And they are problems that could be addressed in standalone legislation.

As president, Clinton would be under pressure to take action on the H-1B program. Support for H-1B reform is bipartisan and appears to be growing. For instance, after Disney cut some 250 workers, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), introduced an H-1B reform bill that was endorsed by Sen. Sessions.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), once a supporter of a major H-1B cap increase, changed his view after he started campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. With Sessions, he introduced an H-1B reform bill. Similarly, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) revisited his support for a H-1B cap increase after hearing from laid-off Northeast Utilities IT workers. He has since moved into the reform camp.

The bipartisan support for H-1B reform in the Senate and House means, as president, Clinton would face ongoing pressure from allies in her own party to reform the program.

 

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