Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has softened his stance on the H-1B Visa. Earlier, he has often said that the visa which allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers for special occupations, should be ended.
“I know the H1-B very well. And it’s something that I frankly use and I shouldn’t be allowed to use it. We shouldn’t have it. Very, very bad for workers. It’s very important to say, well, I’m a businessman and I have to do what I have to do,” Mr. Trump had said during the Republican debate at Miami University.
“It’s unfair to our workers and we should end it,” Mr. Trump said, saying the program should be evaluated and ended if needed within one to two years after he takes office.
IT professionals from India and major Indian IT companies are the major beneficiaries of H-1B, a non-immigrant visa in the US.
Trump said that he has been endorsed by Disney workers, where several people lost their job due to H-1B visa workers.
However, Trump took a more moderate stance than his policy proposal, when asked about the H-1B program during a CNBC debate in October. He went as far as supporting the visas for bringing in talent from out of the country.
When asked by moderator Becky Quick: “You have been very critical of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook who has wanted to increase the number of these H-1Bs.”
Trump replied, “I was not at all critical of him. I was not at all. In fact, frankly, he’s complaining about the fact that we’re losing some of the most talented people. They go to Harvard. They go to Yale. They go to Princeton. They come from another country, and they’re immediately sent out. I am all in favor of keeping these talented people here so they can go to work in Silicon Valley.”
Quick then asked, “Are you in favor of H-1Bs or are you opposed to them?”
Trump replied, “I’m in favor of people coming into this country legally. And you know what? They can have it any way you want. You can call it visas, you can call it work permits, you can call it anything you want. As far as the visas are concerned, if we need people, it’s fine. They have to come into this country legally. We have a country of borders. We have a country of laws. We have to obey the laws. It’s fine if they come in, but they have to come in legally.”
When confronted about his divergent position on the issue at the Thursday Presidential debate, Donald Trump simply said that he was “changing” his position on H1B visas.
Moderator Megyn Kelly pressed Trump on the issue.
“Mr. Trump, your campaign website to this day argues that more visas for highly skilled workers would, quote, ‘decimate American workers’. However, at the CNBC debate, you spoke enthusiastically in favor of these visas. So which is it?”
Trump shrugged off the question and said that he was in favor of the visas. “I’m changing. I’m changing. We need highly skilled people in this country. And if we can’t do it, we’ll get them in,” Trump said.
“And one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges … as soon as they’re finished, they get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately. They’re not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brainpower in this country,” he added.
Kelly seemed surprised at the ease at which Trump announced his policy change while his campaign website still indicated on Thursday night that he opposed the current H1B-visa program.
“So you are abandoning the position on your website?” Kelly asked.
Trump replied: “I’m changing it and I’m softening the position because we have to have talented people in this country.”