In many respects, we've come a long way since the darkest days of the Great Recession. Our country has added 9.2 million jobs and job openings have increased by 97 percent. But we still have to answer a key question: Is our economy working for everyone?
This was on the minds of many when the news broke last year that outsourcing firms had abused a temporary visa program, creating a dynamic in which Americans were asked to train foreign workers so that their jobs could be shipped overseas.
The H-1B visa program was set up to help solve a problem. Many companies in the tech sector have a hard time finding workers to fill job openings that require advanced skills. So with an H-1B visa, workers from other countries with degrees and expertise in science and technology can be hired to fill those jobs. The program has clear rules of the road that stipulate that temporary workers can't displace American workers or reduce their take home pay.
But recently, the H-1B program that was designed to keep businesses competitive in a global economy has been abused. Outlets like the New York Times have uncovered layoffs that were tied to outsourcing firms as a result of the use of these visas.
What happened here goes against what this temporary visa program was designed to do. And it's time we put a stop to it. In these cases outsourcing firms brought in foreign workers, had them shadow accountants and other administrative staffers with years of experience, and had them record everything they saw. The foreign workers took their knowledge back to India and, in the end, American jobs along with them.
I want to make sure the H-1B visa program works the way it's supposed to, by helping businesses fill a legitimate short term need for temporary help in fields with a demonstrated shortage of qualified American applicants.
No one should be forced to train the person who is outsourcing their job. To fix this problem I've introduced bipartisan legislation that would forbid businesses from using temporary workers to come here, learn how to do a job, and then return to a different country with that position.
I'll continue to push for this because we owe it to workers to ensure they are treated fairly. If someone has been working hard at their job for years and done well at it, they shouldn't have to worry about another person coming in to learn from them and take their job away. As one woman who was displaced at Toys "R" Us told the New York Times, "Why am I sitting here showing this man how to do my job when they are taking it away from me and sending it to India?"
No American worker should be treated that way. It's time we closed this loophole and stopped jobs from going overseas.