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Trump called on to allow more, not less H-1B

Another day, another H-1B controversy. Donald Trump has been anti-offshoring from the word “go” (and completely consistent with it, of that we have no criticism). Outside the odd declaration of an “America First” week when his own merchandise is or was largely made outside of his shores, he’s been critical of companies employing foreigners over Americans.

And a lot of that criticism has settled on the existence of the H-1B visa scheme, which allows companies to bring in workers from other countries to do jobs (India has been a particularly strong source of workers in this instance).

So far, so logical, but an item on Forbes suggests that it’s wrong. The item is six weeks old but it’s starting to gain traction in areas like Workpermit.com, which highlighted it this week. The argument runs that if people are disincentivised from employing people to come and work in America, it’s way out of date to suggest the businesses involved will employ Americans instead.

A cloudy thing

The more likely outcome, argues Forbes contributor Stuart Anderson, is that they will employ the people they intended to hire in the first place but that the jobs will stay outside the US. This appears likely as the emergence of cloud computing as a mainstream technology means that for many IT workers, their geographical position isn’t important.

It’s certainly been galling for a number of employees of different organisations to find themselves asked to train people who are going to become their cheaper replacements. As a piece of business sense it is logical; as a piece of people management it’s frankly ludicrous. However, killing the scheme that allows the people to enter the country is just as likely to send the jobs themselves outside the US, thus excluding America from any tax revenue from the employees’ earnings.

We’re not saying we have the answers. But encouraging rather than trying to block the H-1B visa scheme might be a good piece of damage limitation.

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