In a letter addressed to Microsoft last week, Senator Charles Grassley asked the company to layoff foreign workers before laying off skilled American workers. The letter came in response to a report last week that said the company would be laying off approximately 5,000 workers.

I am concerned that Microsoft will be retaining foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American employees when it implements its layoff plan.

As you know, I want to make sure employers recruit qualified American workers first before hiring foreign guest workers.

-- Senator Charles Grassley in a letter to Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer
Microsoft employs more than 91,000 people and thousands of them are foreign guest workers under the H-1B program. The United States issues 65,000 H-1B visas per year when there is an anticipated shortage of skilled workers in particular fields.

Last year, Microsoft was here on Capitol Hill advocating for more H-1B visas. The purpose of the H-1B visa program is to assist companies in their employment needs where there is not a sufficient American workforce to meet their technology expertise requirements. However, H-1B and other work visa programs were never intended to replace qualified American workers. Certainly, these work visa programs were never intended to allow a company to retain foreign guest workers rather than similarly qualified American workers, when that company cuts jobs during an economic downturn.

-- Senator Grassley

Sen. Grassley has wisely provided the guideline that we should expect for every company in America. Temporary foreign workers are allowed into this country only to fill special worker shortages. No company of any kind that is laying off workers should be applying for new foreign worker visas, nor should it layoff any American workers until every temporary foreign worker in that job category has been released first.

-- NumbersUSA President Roy Beck
Sen. Grassley's full letter can be read at his Website.

You can also read Norm Matloff's blog about Sen. Grassley's letter on
H-1B visas

Updated: Mon, Jan 26th 2009 @ 10:52am EST