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5/26/2006
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IEEE-USA Blasts Senate High-Tech Visa Provisions

"We don't understand why the Senate wants to expand a program that numerous government reports have found leaves U.S and foreign workers open to exploitation," IEEE-USA president Ralph Wyndrum Jr. said.

WASHINGTON — The nation's leading engineering group expressed disappointment with immigration legislation approved this week by the Senate.

The controversial Senate immigration bill includes a provision raising the cap on H-1B visas for highly educated temporary workers by 50,000 to 115,000 per fiscal year. It also provides exemptions from both H-1B and employment-based, or "green card," visa caps for foreign workers with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

High-tech and business groups lauded the bill as a boost for U.S. competitiveness.

But the IEEE-USA criticized the measure. "We don’t understand why the Senate wants to expand a program that numerous government reports have found leaves U.S and foreign workers open to exploitation," IEEE-USA President Ralph Wyndrum, Jr. said in a statement released on Friday (May 26). "Fraud, abuse and misuse of the visas is rampant. The program should be fixed before it is expanded."

Moreover, Wyndrum said "the bill opens the spigot on numerous skilled visa categories. The question is how many high-tech workers can the United States absorb annually without driving up unemployment and driving down wages?"

The House has approved a much tougher version of the comprehensive immigration bill. Observers said it remains unclear whether a House-Senate conference can resolve political differences over immigration reform.

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