Senator wants U.S. firms to fire foreigners first

Senator wants U.S. firms to fire foreigners first

Wednesday, 28 January 2009, 04:24 Hrs   |    30 Comments
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Senator wants U.S. firms to fire foreigners first
Washington: An influential senator has asked U.S. companies to make efforts to fire foreign workers first while making lay-offs during the current economic downturn - a move that could affect thousands of Indian professionals.

In a letter to Microsoft, which employs thousands of people through the H-1B visa programme, a majority of them Indians, senator Chuck Grassley urged the IT giant to make efforts to retain qualified American workers during its recently announced lay-offs.

Noting that last year, Microsoft had advocated for more H-1B visas in the US Congress, he said the purpose of the H-1B programme for professionals in "specialty occupation" is to help companies hire foreign guest workers on a temporary basis when there is not a sufficient qualified American workforce to meet those needs, he said.

However, the programme is not intended to replace qualified American workers, Grassley said asking questions of both American and foreign based companies about their use of the H-1B visa programme. A majority of the 60,000 professionals given H-1B visa every year are from India.

In his letter reacting to Microsoft Corporation's reported move to layoff 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months, Grassley expressed concern "that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan".

"As you know, I want to make sure employers recruit qualified American workers first before hiring foreign guest workers," he told Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

It is imperative that in implementing its layoff plan, Microsoft ensures that American workers have priority in keeping their jobs over foreign workers on visa programmes, Grassley said.

"My point is that during a layoff, companies should not be retaining H-1B or other work visa programme employees over qualified American workers," he said.

"Our immigration policy is not intended to harm the American workforce. I encourage Microsoft to ensure that Americans are given priority in job retention."

"Microsoft has a moral obligation to protect these American workers by putting them first during these difficult economic times," he said.

Microsoft spokesperson in a statement said: "We care about all our employees, so we are providing services and support to try to help every affected worker, whether they are US workers or foreign nationals working in this country on a visa."
Source: IANS
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Reader's comments(30)
1: Looks who's talking about free economy now ? India talking to UK to influence US on free economy ? This is absolutely funny. Anyway, if the American Senator wants Microsoft or for that matter any other US company to retain American workers over foreign workers is not wrong but instead its the law. And I am not a US citizen. I am on H1B working in US. So any of the indian folks thinking that its wrong are absolutely ignorant. Assuming India had a foreign worker program and lets say its stormed by Chinese, Bangladeshis, Nepali's etc, and we had a bad economy, I bet you people will come out on the streets and start throwing stones or killing those foreign workers. So, enough of all this hypocrisy.
As to the free economy, remember India was drawn into that whole thing by US and EU. The fact of the matter is the world cannot be too open and too protectionist. There has to be a balance. Even Harvard professors argue towards a free economy, but when things turn out bad, we know how ugly it turns out to be.
Posted by:Sri - 02 Feb, 2009
2: I'm sick to death of the arrogance of Indian IT workers. So American's are lazy, eh? Why thank you for the compliment but I don't think so. I for example have two undergraduate degrees, a M.S. and I haven't worked less than a 60 hour week in 15 years. Americans built the IT industry whether you like it or not and for the most part, we continue to.

I've known smart Indians too and generally enjoy working with them. However, for the most part, their most noteable characteristic is their arrogance and smug superiority which is too frequently unearned - and adds up to an unimpressive inability of theirs to admit their mistakes and hence to actually learn from them.

As for the Senator, common sense says he's correct. Obviously any nation owes it's own citizens first and you understood the risk you took when you accepted an H1-B job. If you don't like that you're welcome to renounce your Indian citizenshp and become a US citizen. But you don't want to do that, right? Instead of wanting to earn an American salary while denouncing our country and full well intending to take the training you have achieved on our soil at the expense of an American who would have had the job, off to our foreign competitors.

Meanwhile, considering India has yet to even let foreign nationals in to work (despite a real rather than manufactured IT shortage to be filled with cheaper labor with inflated unverifiable resumes), consider me decidedly unsympathetic to your whining.
Posted by:Shawni - 01 Feb, 2009
3: I agree with whatever decision proposed by senator, because an indian can come back and work in india. But what about an american? Its their land and they have right to protect their jobs.
Posted by:kck - 30 Jan, 2009
4: Bravo Sita. I agree with you completely :)
Posted by:Athar Mohammad Aarif - 29 Jan, 2009
5: We should let the Americans decide what is legitimate for them to do to save their country. All emotional outbursts and calling on them to remember free economy now in the time off their crisis is just like giving India religion when it was asking for food. You remember the famous quote of Swami Vivekananda who told the American Public:"With parched mouths they(Indians) are asking for food. Giving them religion(of which they have a surfeit) is like throwing stones at them." US is in the same situation today. For whosoever's error the economy has collapsed. The first right for survival is for the natives- someone who has lived and given their best for the country at least for fifty years. It doesn't matter that they are becoming protectionist and working against the spirit of the American Constitution. These are times of emergency. Let the axe fall where it should.
Posted by:MAHADEVA S. SARMA - 28 Jan, 2009
6: India is also growing and it has also got opportunities for showing your talents for making India grow rather than wait for the American laws to change because the American laws are mostly discriminatory in nature and they prefer their own people to be in higher positions just like any independent country so it is better to make a decision based on your thinking rather than what the others say.
Posted by:desi - 28 Jan, 2009
7: This is bullshitt .... Its like Kiss up & Kick down .... Not expected from the new Administration in USA. If this continues USA will no more called the Land of oppurtunities, one more thing will add soon is Human resources melt down.... May God save America
Posted by:Simon - 28 Jan, 2009
8: I would like to address the indians who have emotionally commented here. When you can come to a foreign land and help them to grow, u can do the same in your home country. I am sure we can think of better ways and get out of this monotonous life. When U.S thinks about its survival, lets be greedy. I am sure , to build the same talents its gonna take years for U.S. There are Indian graduates from U.S and India, who can build a better India. Money alone is not the end of it all. We have our parents,relatives, we have our culture, we have our lovely country waiting to welcome us. Do not be afraid to live a natural life in our mother land!

As for the senator, his view is definitely right. If the same happened to India, we would do the same.

We arent even treated normal..We are called ALIENS. Are we from another planet? haha.

Its better not to be in a country which is greedy, which doesnt even treat us with respects, which categorises people with inhuman visa's like H4. There will be relief to all the women on H4's hereafter. Lets all just be happy. If they decide to retain us its good. If they dont... We have our mother land!
Posted by:Indian - 27 Jan, 2009
9: I believe Indians should act with humility here in the US. Because we were hired to work here, doesn't mean others outside your field should be regarded as inferior. Remember India is a filthy, disorganized country compared to America. Our cities are in a state of post-emergency disgrace and our infrastructure nearly non-existent. We have exceeded the critical mass with regard to population density and we are stupid enough to allow ourselves to be manipulated by Israel. ( I am a hindu). In fact we have spent billions on Israeli weapons. They want us to fight their enemies at our expense. We are far from being in a position to brag. With regard to the war of extermination fought in the mid-east, Indians should not see ourselves as being safe and beyond the reach of major crisis. We can very easily be manipulated and slide into a planned chaos that benefits other countries. So lets shut up about petty nonsense, be wise and watch our backs. We can become the worst victims history has ever known because most of our population is ignorant and illiterate. If India was in a better condition, we would not be in the USA. Wake up and stop being so arrogant. We are expendable.
Posted by:Sita - 27 Jan, 2009
10: I think that senator is right in protecting his constituents. We do the same in India. The marathis are trying to expell all North Indian saying that they are taking away their jobs. If such hatered exists amoung Indians then why should they expect a differect treatment from a completely foreign country. DO UNTO OTHER AS YOU WOULD LIKE THEM TO DO UNTO YOU.
Posted by:Urvashi - 27 Jan, 2009
11: I really feel pity on the way the senator thinks. Its really a shame that America which is a powerful country has this kind of idiots who are involved to make a difference, No need to argue on this topic as by the EOD, its the company who decided who is worth and who is not, ....survival of the fittest .

A simple Question for the sentor, If company decides to sack highly skilled people who are on H1 Visa, then what the hell they do keeping dumps in there office ?

This is not the Topic to be discussed or considered as its just waste of time.

And Nick, here is response for your below comment : Its not the race or caste or country or state on which you can decide how these people are, its a person who matters, i can show you many sick and reserve people from every country , state ,race and caste. try to think as a mature, and then comment.

For your kind information, you had come across indian people who are not social, get out of that well and see the other part, you will see many people from in America who are from around the world who help and support public irrespective of there caste or race and very social.

And my sweet Pammi, Baby first you growup and then provide your comments.

I feel its just a waste of time, to consider this as a topic or issue.
Posted by:Basavanna - 27 Jan, 2009
12: White Vs. Brown
Chuck Grassley's statment smacks of discrimination.
Posted by:Ashok Kumar Aggarwal - 27 Jan, 2009
13: Companies will get rid of the people whom they think are not producing the required output, irrespective of visa status etc. If I understand correctly senator is saying "If you have equally skilled workers, choose to send the worker with temp. work permit out first vs a citizen employee". I think that is a valid point and it is in the spirit of guest worker program. I am not happy as that means i have to leave first but law is law and we should respect that.
Posted by:Srinivas - 27 Jan, 2009
14: What he says is correct ,but for companies it is hard to layoff talent and run business. Its not magic that made Microsoft an enterprise over $60 billion revenues. Its all the talent and hardwork that went in.

I see somebody saying no intelligence is required for computer programming ,this guy might be in vedic ages, looking out for telepathy :)).

Posted by:Chaitanya - 27 Jan, 2009
15: News is less shocking than many comments by readers.
The senator as well as many readers who apparanty seem to be,both,agreeing and disagreing have forgotton basic rules of economics.
No company in any country would think of employing foreign nationals unless it is financially beneficial to it.
A company which is in financial trouble should retain all those employees which are imp for its sustianance irrespective of nationality.
bottom lines wont see which natinal is working and who had been fired.
this decision should purely left to market forces.
no sentimental and protective measures should be mixed up.
Posted by:vin - 27 Jan, 2009
16: I agree with some of the comments regarding layoffs being a BU decision. At the same time I sympathize with the sentiments of the average American who is trying to protect his own cause for survival. Wouldn't we react the same way had India or some other nation been in a similar state? My suggestion is to reduce dependency on one geo and diversify. The mid-east is prospering. And when we carry the capability to send crafts to the moon, with an age that is 1/5th that of America, or even less, we can do it. Perhaps, we need a few Microsoft's of our own. R&D and strong fundamentals is what we need to get to a position where we can be the employers rather than the employees. We need to build economically and competitively so that we can win all the world over.

FINALLY: Lets remember that when in Rome, you have to be a Roman. Home is the best.
Posted by:Narasimhan Krishna - 27 Jan, 2009
17: Thanks Senator. Immigration policy is to assist American companies to recruit whenever there is a shortage of local labor force. The time has come where MSFT and others will have to make a tough choices during the current economic conditions. I wholehearteadly support Senator for laying off H1B first. Sen. is not asking to layoff Indian citizens working for these companies. Sen. is doing his job by protecting his constituents. Moreover, Indians are so pathetic that they are happy with their big salaries, big house with Indian TV Channels and big car and have failed to assimilate in US society. I see very few Indians when it comes to community service, whether its social or political. Even after staying in US for over long period of time they have no social skills or are polite enough to talk to strangers in a social setting. Get involved before start criticising such moves. This is AMERICA not your homeland. You have left India for good so enjoy the American experience.
Posted by:Nick - 27 Jan, 2009
18: SAIRAM. As an Indian-American, I am able to see the prepectives of both sides. In the final analysis though, one has to appreciate that the US (as India and every other nation will/should do) has to do whatever is in its best interest. People who are in the US as temporary hired help (be they from India, Canada,China, several EEC countries or from any other nation of the world) have to be retained on their merits, and all other considerations aside, the interests of the US citizens have to be paramount. Before you bad mouth the US, ask yourself how you would want India to act in such a situation? SAIRAM.
Posted by:SAI - 27 Jan, 2009
19: Disgusting! By such message USA Senator losing there value around the world. It is not fair. Recession is all over the world it doesn’t mean without any reason we are laying off foreigner. As one of my friend clearly mention that if the company is laying off some employees it should not be based on there cast, religion or some inequality. US should not forget by hiring NRI there are reducing cost as well as getting accuracy in there projects so far. Recession is for some time period may be it will be next 2 years maximums once it is completed by this acts US will lose there value and when they required the skill people they won’t find anyone by of this sucking act. India is counted one of the IT giant. You can compare all over the world Indians are number #1 in the all the professional so far, because there are skilled professionals. Our country is lacking something that is management skills. And I appreciate US People are far better than Indians in management skills that is the reason they have Microsoft, Google, Apple INC

Finally I want to request the US senators think thrice before ACT.

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.” By Henry ford

Posted by:Mohammad Arshad - 27 Jan, 2009
20: For all those blasting the senator, I have one would you feel when 15 or 20 years from now your children are laid off and their recently arrived counter parts from India get to keep their jobs?

Competetion is key to success, but excess of it can drive a society to the brink of depression and hopelessness.

On the surface it seems really unfair that they invite you when they need you and then propose to kick you out, but lets face it, the country is facing mass layoffs and all those foreign workers who accepted the H1s knew all along that there is a possibility of not being able to get a permanent status. Americans may be lazy, but they are not stupid and they have all the infrastructure in the world to re-train themselves if given a chance and that's all the senator is asking for. Besides, it isn't like he was elected by all the H1s in's his job to fight for his constituents.
Posted by:Anu Sharma - 27 Jan, 2009
21: Senator should understand America is a country of Immigrants and this is not the way a Rich Democratic Nation progress. This Senator is talking like a Communist! For Businesses, Talent matters and nothing to do with Americans and Non-Americans, race, creed or color.
Re-think America, build a New America, Don't Destroy America - Use intelligence, you will overcome crisis and downturn! DON'T BE NORROW & PETTY MINDED!
Posted by:Ravi Parthasarathy - 27 Jan, 2009
22: Why can't all these Senators, Congressmen and other party leaders contribute from their earnings in this time of national crisis? instead of showing discrimination between americans and foreign workers and asking companies to show discrimination .......

Aren't these so called taken oath and pledge to serve the is not only made of americans from the beginning, but always by foreigners.....

And I agree with earlier posting that Layoffs is big business decision not becuase you are white or black or brown or any color.....

I wonder when do these leaders learn , grow and show some sense or signs of maturity in their deeds and thinking.....

Grow up senators....don't be childish and foolish...

Posted by:robert mark - 27 Jan, 2009
23: its rubbish that programming is like driving a car. it needs logical brain for programming and in US the talent is to drive drunken and dash, computer field requires large number of human brains, it is impossible to expell them, if done so then the integrity of company ideas will be in free competition and they will dig their own grave.
The US senetaor may have given statement in drunken state.
Posted by:nirbhay kulkarni - 27 Jan, 2009
24: Well, we treat them the same way don't we?
Posted by:crazyoldmansl - 27 Jan, 2009
25: It's irresponsible act on the part of US Govt. On one hand, it is unfair and immoral act to invite skilled workers in their land and on the other hand, return them once they face some crisis! Probably, the Senator shows his irresponsible behaviour! The crisis of recession does not lie in this form of activities. It lies within USA who devised such a stupid globalised economy without having any buffer. The name of the person is "Milton Friedman"! Probably it's high time for the US Senator to perform research on "John Maynard Keynes"!
Posted by:Arijit - 27 Jan, 2009
26: Layoffs will be based on the business and not based on individual performance or talents. When a BU decides to cut costs by closing some of the projects, it lays off that project members. It is absolutlely foolish here to think on native & foriegn workers
Posted by:Ravi - 27 Jan, 2009
27: USA historically had been a land of opportunities for the talented. Protectionism of this kind will make this society to travel backwards. At this rate and in course of time this would would become another backward country.
Posted by:maaya - 27 Jan, 2009
28: Computer programming doesn't need much intelligence as people believe. I know small children who are adept at it. In fact, it is much easier than driving a taxi in Indian roads. Any taxi driver can become a fantastic computer expert, if he puts in the same efforts in uses on Indian roads to his purpose.
As to Microsoft hiring outsiders, it is just smart business practice, but then it turned out to be over smart over smart. See what has happened to English economies!
Posted by:Ved from Victoria Institutions - 27 Jan, 2009
29: pammi - your comment is sheer out of jealousy. Worth to keep shut.

The senator has definetly a point. It is in the right of the citizens of a country to be favored over a foreign national. MS has to choose to keep US citizens over a foreign employee if there is a choice.

But I doubt whether there will be a choice for MS as Indians have proved smarter than the lazy bums.
Posted by:critic - 26 Jan, 2009
30: Now these NRIs will understand the worth of India..
Posted by:pammi - 26 Jan, 2009