Donald Trump has appeared to flip-flop on his position on H1-B visas during Thursday night’s Republican debate when he implied that he wants to expand the foreign-worker program. But on Friday, his campaign released a statement saying that he actually does not want to expand it.
H1-B visas allow U.S. companies to hire foreign workers – not immigrants – on a temporary basis, usually for up to 3 years. The federal government limits the number of H1B visas to 65,000 every year. On Thursday, Fox News Anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly, pressed Trump to clarify his stance on visas for highly skilled workers after she pointed out his campaign website argues that these visas would decimate American workers, despite the fact that he recently said he was in favor of the visas.
“I'm changing. I'm changing. We need highly skilled people in this country, and if we can't do it, we'll get them in,” said Trump, the frontrunner Republican presidential candidate.
“We do need highly skilled, and one of the biggest problems we have is people go to the best colleges. They'll go to Harvard, they'll go to Stanford, they'll go to Wharton, as soon as they're finished they'll get shoved out. They want to stay in this country. They want to stay here desperately, they're not able to stay here. For that purpose, we absolutely have to be able to keep the brain power in this country.”
But on Friday the Trump campaign said the real estate mogul does not support an expansion of the H1-B program.
“I remain totally committed to eliminating rampant, widespread H1-B abuse and ending outrageous practices such as those that occurred at Disney in Florida when Americans were forced to train their foreign replacements,” the campaign statement read. “I will end forever the use of the H1-B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program. No exceptions.”
The campaign also said, “The H1-B program is neither high-skilled nor immigration: these are temporary foreign workers, imported from abroad, for the explicit purpose of substituting for American workers at lower pay."
H1B visas are in fact, not for cheap laborers. A Heritage Foundation study found the median employee earns $74,250 a year.
“The average H1-B salary of $78,600 is 50 percent above that of the average U.S. worker's of $50,300,” the study said.
Republican presidential hopeful Senator Ted Cruz has already blasted Trump for supporting an expansion of a program that he says takes away American jobs. Cruz said during the debate he would propose a 180-day moratorium on the H1-B program to implement an investigation and audit to ensure U.S. companies are not firing American workers, and replacing them with foreign workers.
Sen. Marco Rubio hit the Trump campaign for the apparent flip-flop, implying that this further proves Trump – whose campaign has been primarily fueled by his hardline stance on immigration – does not know policy.
"Tonight Donald Trump finally took an actual position," Rubio said in a statement. "But as soon as the debate was over, his handlers made him reverse himself. The Republican nominee cannot be somebody who is totally clueless on so many issues, including his signature issue."