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Bernie Sanders Position On H-1B Visas


In a surreal twist, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders (the Vermont Senator seeking a Democratic nomination for president), who normally occupy starkly contrasting positions on pretty much any issue, actually do have one thing in common: their distaste for H1B visas.

"What I do not support is, under the guise of immigrant reform, a process pushed by large corporations which results in more unemployment and lower wages for American workers," he said in an interview with the Washington Post.

 "I find it hard to understand that, when 9 million people in this country have degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, only about 3 million have jobs in these areas," he added.

What these companies are after is cheap labour at the expense of the American worker, plain and simple, said Sanders. His fix: reform the H1B program by raising wages substantially. "I have a hard time understanding the notion that there's a severe need for more workers from abroad when wages for these jobs rose only 4.5 percent between 2000 and 2011," he said in the same Washington Post interview. "You see stagnant wages for high-skilled workers, when these companies tell you that they desperately need high-skilled workers. Why not raise wages to attract those workers?"

Sanders also wants a "whistleblower visa" for workers reporting labor violations.

Published: January 29, 2016 -- 00:49 GMT (16:49 PST)

Caption by: Rajiv Rao

View Candidates Position On H-1B Visas


Hillary Clinton, Democratic nominee for president and a former Secretary of State, hasn't said a whole lot on H1Bs, at least in comparison to her Republican foes. In fact, shedoesn't mention it at all in her immigration platform.

That's because Clinton is someone who tends to bend with the wind on this issue. In 2007, in a speech to top Silicon Valley executives, she was very clearly on the side of boosting H1B numbers. " I am reaffirming my commitment to the H1B visa and increasing the current cap. Foreign skilled workers contribute greatly to what we have to do in being innovators," she said to loud applause.

In 2003, she was clearly not hesitant to inaugurate the offices of India's Tata Consultancy Services in Buffalo, one of the major beneficiaries of H1Bs and IT outsourcing contracts from the US. Clinton was the key architect of the whole plan to bring business, and TCS, to the State of New York, at a time when the whole issue of outsourcing and H1Bs was gathering steam.

However, in 2009, when the US economy was in a tailspin thanks to the subprime mortgage fiasco and the Obama administration that could ill afford to push things like outsourcing, her position was far more cautious. "In a global recession, every country is going to want to make sure that we have enough jobs for our people," said Clinton, while visiting India. "So, we have to figure out how we're going to work together. Outsourcing is a concern for many communities and businesses in my country."

Published: January 29, 2016 -- 00:49 GMT (16:49 PST)

Photo by: NBC News

Caption by: Rajiv Rao

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