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Engineer's wife 'ferocious' in Obama Q&A on H-1Bs

Patrick Thibodeau | Feb. 6, 2012
The White House is following up on an offer made by President Barack Obama this week to help find a job for an unemployed semiconductor engineer in Texas.

One way that increased competition from H-1B workers hurts is in the ability of tech workers to gain training in related areas, said Wedel. For instance, he believes his experience as a semiconductor engineer is closely related to quality engineering, but it has been very difficult to convince prospective employers "to give me a shot at a different industry," such as in medical devices.

The visa use is putting more people in the marketplace and that makes it "less likely for (employers) to have to train anyone or do any kind of ramp-up at all," he said.

Mr. Wedel said he has worked many friends who are visa holders, and is "certainly not against immigration and giving people a chance to come to this country and work."

But with employment still high, he believes that "it's only prudent to adjust the levels of immigrants that are allowed to come here."

Wedel would like to see the H-1B cap reduced, but he is not expecting the Obama administration to do that and says it favors loosening the restrictions.

Wedel, who said his wife can be "ferocious," acknowledged she was fortunate to have the opportunity to question the president.

The questions were submitted to Google, which picked them. "The people at Google told us that the president did not have any idea ahead of time the questions that were going to be asked and I think that showed in his response," he said.

Wedel said he and his wife plan to continue "to express our beliefs and do what's right" and "use my situation to help that agenda in any way possible." But when the "15 minutes" of fame has passed, he said he and his wife will "be totally comfortable to going back to our lives and the calm of no media."

 

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