Trump's election sets stage for H-1B reform

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a harsh critic of the visa program, to play leading administration role

By Patrick Thibodeau
Nov. 15, 2016

What Buchanan wants to see is elimination of the H-1B program, because he believes it can't be fixed. "Every time government tries to fix broken programs, they make it far worse," he said.

To prevent what happened at Edison, Buchanan believes U.S. firms should be liable for any contractor that uses H-1B visa workers to replace American workers. He also wants higher wages for visa workers, and believes the Trump administration should rescind President Barack Obama's executive order giving the spouses of some H-1B workers the ability to work. He has been part of a lawsuit fighting the Obama move.

The H-1B program "was only supposed to be used for an unfilled job that you couldn't find an American worker for," said Buchanan.

Reform of the H-1B program will face considerable opposition in Congress. It is an issue that transcends party lines. When longtime H-1B critic Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) tried to amend the 2013 Senate comprehensive immigration bill with U.S. worker protections, his chief opponent was a fellow Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch, of Utah.

But Trump, as president, will have executive powers to force changes in the program. And with Sessions set to play a prominent role in the administration, Silicon Valley faces a difficult fight. Whether the risk of IT worker displacement recedes, remains to the seen.

Dawn Casey, an IT worker whose Twitter accounts announces that she trained her foreign replacement, tweeted on the night of Trump's victory about her joy over his victory. "I think his election is very important to the H-1B issue. Trump will put Americans first and he will bring back jobs," she wrote.

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