Stimulus package sets H-1B limits, leaves out E-Verify mandate
Of two IT-related amendments to the economic stimulus bill, only one makes the cut.
Computerworld - A provision requiring banks receiving federal bailout funds to give hiring priority to U.S. workers over foreigners with H-1B visas made it into the final version of the economic stimulus bill that President Barack Obama signed last week.
But House and Senate negotiators dropped a separate proposal that would have forced all employers benefiting from stimulus money to use the government's Web-based E-Verify system to vet the employment status of their workers.
The new H-1B restrictions require financial services firms that get money under the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) to comply with rules set for "H-1B-dependent" companies -- those where more than 15% of the workers are on visas.
The rules set a number of requirements for organizations looking to hire H-1B holders, including the need to attest that the employer actively recruited U.S. workers and wouldn't be displacing or replacing U.S. citizens.
Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) initially proposed an outright ban on H-1B hiring by TARP-recipient banks, but the scope of their amendment to the stimulus bill was later scaled down.
Even so, Charles Kuck, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, said it's unlikely that the affected financial services firms will try to hire H-1B holders for IT jobs and other positions because of the added cost and work now required.
That could leave the firms unable to tap the skills of "qualified foreign talent" to help them during a time of economic crisis, Kuck added. "Maybe we've got all the homegrown talent we need to pull us out of this mess, because now we have to hope we do," he said.
But some H-1B critics contend that the hiring restrictions may do little to stop IT functions from being shifted to foreign workers, since the stimulus bill doesn't place any limits on offshoring.
Ron Hira, an assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology, claimed that many TARP recipients have "huge shadow workforces" at outsourcing vendors. And outsourcing by Wall Street firms has risen since the federal bailout program began last fall, according to Hira.
Restricting H-1B hiring "will rectify some of the indefensible practices of quasi-nationalized banks," Hira said. "But unfortunately, it doesn't close the loopholes where most of the abuse occurs."
The E-Verify provision that was left out of the stimulus bill would have required companies benefiting from the $787 billion package to vet information in job applications by comparing it to data in work-eligibility databases maintained by the U.S. Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Also excised from the bill was a proposed extension of the overall E-Verify program beyond March 6, when it is scheduled to expire.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, criticized the decision to drop the E-Verify usage requirement. The DHS and the SSA "have the hardware and the software capacity to screen all new hires," he said. "It's happening right now."
But Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the databases used as part of E-Verify are outdated and contain inaccurate information. "The reason why we don't have mandatory verification [rules]," Sparapani said, "is because the government hasn't done the hard work of going back and scrubbing those databases clean."
Mike Aitken, director of governmental affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, Va., doesn't want the E-Verify program to disappear. But, he said, the government needs to make the system more reliable.
Read more about Government IT in Computerworld's Government IT Topic Center.
This state transportation department uses computer science students from a local university as programming interns, and everyone is happy with the arrangement -- until one intern learns how to bring down the mainframe.
- IT Certification Study Tips
- Register for this Computerworld Insider Study Tip guide and gain access to hundreds of premium content articles, cheat sheets, product reviews and more.
- Changing the Way Government Works: Four Technology Trends that Drive Down Costs and Increase Productivity
- This paper discusses four technology-based approaches to improving processes and increasing
productivity while driving down department and agency costs.
- Path Selection Infographic
- Path Selection Infographic
- Hyperconvergence Infographic
- A wide range of observers agree that data centers are now entering an era of "hyperconvergence" that will raise network traffic levels faster...
- Preparing Your Infrastructure for the Hyperconvergence Era
- From cloud computing and virtualization to mobility and unified communications, an array of innovative technologies is transforming today's data centers.
- How WAN Optimization Helps Enterprises Reduce Costs
- If you wanted to break down innovation into a tidy equation, it might go something like this: Technology + Connectivity = Productivity. Productivity... All Government IT White Papers
- Cloud Knowledge Vault Learn how your organization can benefit from the scalability, flexibility, and performance that the cloud offers through the short videos and other resources...
- LIVE EVENT: 5/7, The End of Data Protection As We Know It. Introducing a Next Generation Data Protection Architecture. Traditional backup is going away, but where does this leave end-users?
- On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Mobile Security: Containerizing Enterprise Data In this on-demand webinar, Fixmo's Lee Cocking, VP of corporate strategy, explains why Apple-ization trends like mobility and "bring-your-own-device" (BYOD) are driving the...
- Endpoint Data Management: Protecting the Perimeter of the Internet of Things Not surprisingly, "Internet of Things" (IoT) and Big Data present new challenges AND opportunities for enterprise IT. Teams need to harness, secure and...
- All Government IT Webcasts