Sen. Sherrod Brown says visa reform should press employers to hire American first

Ashtabula Star Beacon

American jobs should be offered to qualified  isAmerican workers first, Sen. Sherrod Brown said Tuesday.

Brown, D-Avon, championed the H-1B visa program to reporters, but with an amendment that would require employers to hire American workers before seeking visas for foreign workers.

“The H-1B visa program can help U.S. employers find qualified employees,” Brown said, “but we have to make sure foreign workers are not hired at the expense of American workers.”

The H-1B visa program allows businesses to recruit foreign workers to fill positions that require a specific skill set. The L-1 Visa Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act of 2013 would require businesses to first offer a position to an equally or better qualified American worker before seeking a visa for a skilled foreign worker.

“We know how important immigration is to our country,” Brown said. “America is built on the work and the dedication brought by a constant, 200-year influx of immigrants from around the world. But we need a common sense approach.”

Brown, who is co-sponsoring the amendment, said he has attended immigration roundtables across the state to hear the opinions of green card holders, employers, advocates, detractors and recent immigrants.

“There is pretty much unanimity that system is broken and something needs to be done,” he said.

The solution has many faces, Brown said, including “a clear pathway to citizenship for people, securing borders by using better technology, focusing on cracks in national security cracks, preventing identity theft, and cracking down on employers who hire without documentation.”

Support for the amendment is vast and bi-partisan, he said.

“Americans overwhelmingly support this common sense plan,” Brown said. “This will mean more Americans with technical expertise working in good paying jobs. I believe this bill will pass in the senate with strong bi-partisan vote, which will send a message to the house that they should also act. I have no doubt that it will pass if it goes to a floor vote.”

While the amendment specifically protects just high-skill jobs, Brown said he expects the impact to be much broader.

“Our amendment only applies to those higher tech workers, but the legislation overall I think will upgrade wages for these workers and others,” he said. “The whole point of this bill to me is that American workers are hired to upgraded wages and that employers follow the law. I think that is what this legislation does.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown says visa reform should press employers to hire American first »