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 to help millions of Americans hit by job losses during the coronavirus pandemic.
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 will come into effect from June 24.
The proclamation also extends till the end of the year his previous executive order that had banned issuing of 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.
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Hit by the pandemic, nearly 40 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last couple of months as the US economy has come to a halt due to the deadly virus that has so far has killed more than 120,000 people in America, the worst-hit country by the virus.
The decision is expected to impact a large number of Indian IT professionals and several American and Indian companies who were issued H-1B visas by the US government for the fiscal year 2021 beginning October 1.
They would now have to wait at least till the end of the current year before approaching the US diplomatic missions to get stamping. It would also impact a large number of Indian IT professionals who are seeking renewal of their H-1B visas.
Top US lawmakers have urged the president to revoke the temporary suspension on visas.
Expressing disappointment over the decision, Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi said the H-1B programme 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 programme will only weaken our economy and our health care workforce at a time when the 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, expressed disappointment over the proclamation, saying 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, slammed the latest move of the Trump administration.
“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, Gupta said.
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 programme 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, and communities, and delay America’s economic recovery.
It said that Trump also extended his administration’s April order banning the admission of legal permanent residents which has already separated families and weakened communities.
We are all still in the middle of 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.
Being able to draw on the best and brightest from around the world has always been an incredible advantage for America. This presidential proclamation ignores this reality and will make emerging from this crisis more difficult and expensive, Minear said.
Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, said that the ban is a threat to American tradition of immigration. “We must stand united in opposition to the president’s latest action to advance his well-documented anti-immigration agenda.
President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service this order will shut the door on more than 160,000 foreign-born workers and the families they support.