But committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), questioned the opposition to Grassley's amendment. "All this requires is that all H-1B employers, not just dependent employers, essentially have a good faith recruitment obligation to be able to show that they tried to recruit a qualified American worker," said Feinstein. "What is wrong with that?"
Schumer said "it sounds good on the surface," but "good faith" is an "elastic standard" that's open to interpretation and difficult to prove. Feinstein provided a backstory for her concern.
"A while back I met with a group of workers in San Diego, interestingly enough they, were all above the age of 50," said Feinstein. "They'd all been replaced by H-1B workers, and you saw it clearly. They were traditional engineers; the technology had moved on. What was seen to be desirable was the young, flexible, highly qualified techie, generally Asian in Californian, and I felt very badly for these people."
"Above the age of 50 it's very hard for an American to get another job," she said.
Schumer responded by saying that employers are not allowed to fire American workers. He didn't go into a detail, but there are non-displacement rules in the bill that prevent employers from immediately replacing a U.S. worker with a visa holder. "That's prohibited under our proposal and will not change," he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) expressed interest in supporting Grassley's amendment, but said he was told that it "would be a deal breaker to the deal," but added, "I frankly don't see how that would be the case."
The committee will return Thursday to take up more amendments on the immigration bill.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.