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Immigration Bill Sparks Labor-Cost Debate

Friday, 18 May 2007 | 2:26 PM ET

The U.S. Senate's immigration reform bill could result in the H1B visa cap jumping from 65,000 to 115,000 annually. “Morning Call” invited immigration experts to debate both sides of the issue.

Ron Hira, a public policy professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, told CNBC's Mark Haines that the H1B program -- for highly skilled workers -- has been “corrupted and needs to be repaired.”

Immigration Bill
Debating whether the Senate's bi-partisan immigration bill is good for America, with Robert Hoffman, Oracle vp of Congressional & legislative affairs; Ron Hira, Rochester Institute of Technology public policy professor and CNBC's Mark Haines

The program’s leading users, like Infosys Technologies and Oracle’s I-Flex Solutions, are transferring work abroad, he explained. “[The program is] actually accelerating the process of outsourcing jobs.”

However, Robert Hoffman, vice president of congressional and legislative affairs at Oracle, said boosting the H1B limit is positive for the U.S.' workforce. “We need the market escalated,” he said.

Hoffman explained that firms use the program as a path to recruit and retain workers. Meanwhile, governments in Australia and the European Union are “wishing to push our college graduates right offshore,” he added. “Frankly, the devil is in the details. And there’s a lot more we need to know -- and I haven’t had my eye contact with Satan just yet,” he joked.

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