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Silicon Valley pushes for H-1B visas

April 13, 2009 12:00 IST

Reflecting the mood of the Silicon Valley, prominent media outlets from California have come out openly in support of the H-1B work visas and opposed increasing the "hire Americans" call in the United States.

"The H-1B program is good for California and good for the country," wrote San Francisco Chronicle in an editorial on Monday.

Speaking out against the provision of the stimulus bill that blocks H-1B hiring by companies, which have received federal money, the newspaper asked the two Californian Senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, to work towards reversing this provision.

"This is more than just a political debate," it argued. "The H-1B program, though small in relative numbers (new H-1B visa holders represent just 7 out of every 10,000 workers in the United States, according to the National Foundation for American Policy), has real impacts on our economy and our society," the newspaper said.

"Foreign students and workers who might prefer to stay in the US can, and increasingly will, return to their home countries to launch businesses. They can then compete with American companies instead of adding value to them. And when they return home, they can honestly say that America is not the land of opportunity for people like them," it said.

In another column, CEO and president of Sybase Inc John Chen wrote in Mercury News that "Hire American" is a slogan which does not help America.

The situation in the country would only worsen, Chen said, as the stimulus package discourages bailed-out financial services firms from hiring H-1B visa holders.

"We simply won't have enough labour down the road. The US Labour Department predicts a net drop of 3.1 million in labour supply comparing the period of 2006-2016 to the prior decade. What all this means is that hire American will only harm America," he wrote.

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