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USIBC hires former US ambassadors to India to fight its H-1B case

Last updated on: June 7, 2013 11:33 IST

USIBC hires former US ambassadors to India to fight its H-1B case

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Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC


The US India Business Council (USIBC) has hired two top-notch lobbying firms to launch a campaign against certain 'killer provisions' in the US immigration reform bill, especially those related to much sort after H-1B visas. USIBC seeks to either tweak or quash the provisions it is opposing.

Ron Somers, president of USIBC told Rediff.com that the most powerful public relations and law firms in Washington have been brought onboard by USIBC for this effort.

They include Patton Boggs, which will lobby the issue at the scale of the US-India civil nuclear advocacy effort - USIBC conceived in 2006. Public relations campaign will be spearheaded by APCO Worldwide.

Ambassador Frank Wisner (US Ambassador to India, and considered the godfather of USIBC) will lead the effort at Patton Boggs with Thomas Hale Boggs, Jr, Anurag Varma, and Graham Wisner.

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Photographs: Keith Bedford/Reuters

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USIBC hires former US ambassadors to India to fight its H-1B case

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Another former US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer will also lead the effort at APCO, together with the Honorable Cliff Stearns, Member of Congress, from 1989-2013.

Justifying the massive investment in hiring these lobbying firms to quash what USIBC believes are 'the killer provisions' of the bill, Somers reiterated, "At a time when the global economic recovery is just beginning, the US and India need to pull together, not pull apart, to ensure cohesiveness and a future of shared prosperity."

USIBC, formed in 1975 at the request of the United States and Indian governments, is the largest bilateral business association in the United States, whose mandate is to advance two-way trade and deepen commercial ties.

Last month, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the comprehensive immigration bill unanimously, and it now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

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Image: Frank Wisner, former US Ambassador to India.
Photographs: Stoyan Nenov/Reuters

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USIBC hires former US ambassadors to India to fight its H-1B case

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Following this event, on June 6, the USIBC announced the establishment of the Coalition for Jobs & Growth to ensure that American businesses have access to the international expertise they require to drive forward economic growth and job creation.

The Coalition's members are drawn from the 350 businesses, trade associations, and public policy members of the USIBC, virtually all of whom directly benefit from access to the international knowledge economy and use the work of professionals from around the globe to enhance productivity.

USIBC said, "As the economy recovers, the US is relying on technology to drive efficiencies and spur growth, and this requires skilled professionals," and argued, "until the US can produce sufficient numbers of skilled professionals domestically, talent must be sourced from around the globe to enable US firms outpace global competition."

Somers said, "USIBC supports the free movement of technical professionals. This freedom of movement is essential to US job creation, and is at the heart of our future economic prosperity."

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Photographs: Reuters

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USIBC hires former US ambassadors to India to fight its H-1B case

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Though USIBC endorses immigration reform, it feels that the legislation as currently written restricts a company's ability to source skilled talent, which hamstrings American competitiveness.

"I am especially worried US competitiveness will be hurt if the bill is adopted as drafted," said Somers, and argued, "Why have US firms weathered the global economic recession as well as they have? Resilience, yes, but also because US firms have become more productive, and have been able to enhance their competiveness, thanks to our 'Knowledge Partnership' with global IT firms in India, where innovation and value addition are taking place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Somers said, "This unique 'knowledge partnership' with India has enabled our companies to outpace the global competition. Because of this partnership, I believe, the US economic recovery will prove transformational. So, why would we now wish to harm this successful model?"


Photographs: Sherwin Crasto/Reuters
Tags: USIBC , Somers , US , India , H-1B

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