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H-1B battle to take center stage in Senate on Tuesday

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[SIZE=3][FONT=comic sans ms][COLOR=#0000cd][SIZE=4][B]H-1B battle to take center stage in Senate on Tuesday [/B][/SIZE][/COLOR]

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The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the H-1B visa that will bring together the temporary visa’s most outspoken critics and supporters.

The hearing was called by U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee chairman, and will occur as the tech industry pushes for adoption of the I-Squared Act.

The bill would raise the base cap for H-1B visas from 65,000 to 195,000 and eliminate the cap on people who earn advance degrees from U.S. schools in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

Grassley has long sought visa reforms to give U.S. workers preference in hiring. On the opposite side of the issue is fellow committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the chief advocate of the I-Squared bill

I-Squared has 10 Senate co-sponsors -- six Republicans and four Democrats. They include Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is a possible presidential candidate.

Joining Grassley on Tuesday to denounce the temporary visa program will be Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who heads the immigration subcommittee and has become particularly outspoken about the visa’s impact on highly skilled workers.

Others scheduled to testify, possibly in support of an expanded H-1B visa program, include Bjorn Billhardt, the founder and president of Enspire Learning, an Austin-based company that creates learning development tools.

Billhardt is profiled on FWD.com, an industry group supporting immigration reform and H-1B increases.

Also set to speak is Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, a group that believes, according to a policy paper, that H-1B visa workers “complement their native-born peers; they do not substitute for them.”

Workers in both their states, Connecticut’s Northeast Utilities now called Eversource, and Minnesota’s Cargill, have seen IT workers replaced by offshore outsourcing companies that use large numbers of workers on H-1B visas.

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