Ron Hira, associate professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, was a featured speaker at the Brookings Institution’s forum on Immigration Policies for Highly Skilled Workers on Feb. 7. The event, which focused on current U.S. immigration policy, how to attract highly skilled workers and their role in spurring American innovation and economic competitiveness, was broadcast live on C-SPAN2.
Hira’s remarks focused on current governmental policies related to H-1B and L-1 temporary worker visas for skilled foreign labor, contrasting how some employers sponsor high skilled workers for permanent residence while others exploit loopholes to use these visas for cheap temporary labor. Using government data, Hira showed that seven of the top 10 employers utilizing these visas from 2007 to 2009 were offshore outsourcing firms, which rarely sponsor their workers for permanent residence.
“Proponents of expanding these visa programs argue that it’s in our national interest to attract the best and brightest workers from around the world and to keep them here permanently,” says Hira. “But these employers are saying one thing and doing quite another. They are spinning these workers through a revolving door in order to drive down wages and help send more jobs overseas.”
The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Science and Technology Policy at George Mason University. Additional speakers included Mitch Waldrop, an editor for Nature, and Jennifer Hunt, professor of economics at McGill University. To view the forum in its entirety, go to c-spanvideo.org/program/ImmigrationPolicy19.
The Brookings Institution was founded in 1916 and conducts research and policy outreach in economics, urban studies and global development. It is one of the nation’s oldest think tanks.