Tuesday, August 10, 2010

India peeved over U.S. border bill

Earlier today the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure to provide $600 million in funds for enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill, which was also approved by the Senate last week, would be used to pay for items like 1000 new Border Patrol officers and unmanned surveillance drones. The “emergency spending” proposal has not been without controversy, however, particularly on how it’s being paid.

After some wrangling over whether or not to use unspent stimulus funds to pay for the bill, legislators decided to raise funds by increasing the fees to several visa programs including the H-1B and L program. Under these visa plan employers can legally and temporarily hire skilled foreign workers, particularly from countries like India. Hence, it should come as no surprise that Indian officials have voiced their disappointment with the proposal:
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, India's Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the bill unfairly targets Indian companies and estimated it would cost the country's firms an extra $200 million a year.

"It is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly discriminatory law," Sharma wrote.
Members of India’s software companies slammed the measure; Infosys Technologies chief exec S. Gopalakrishnan warned that India’s tech sector would lobby hard against the bill. The president of India's National Association of Software and Services Companies added that the bill is an “indirect form of protectionism" that could hinder the U.S. economy.

Complicating matters was bill co-sponsor Sen. Chuck Schumer who compared Infosys to criminal auto shops known as “chop shops.” Nevertheless, Schumer defended the measure and added his hope that “now our attention must turn to comprehensive (immigration) reform.”

The proposal could become law in September after Congress’ summer recess.

Image- The Hindu (“Wipro is one of the Indian companies which will be affected following a border security bill that was passed to raise the visa fees of Indian companies operating in the U.S. by $2,000.”)
Online Sources- Kansas City Star, AFP, The Economist, Reuters, AP, Washington Post,

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