Rep. Ro Khanna says America’s H-1B visa program could use reform, but that lawmakers must use a “common sense” approach.

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — California Congressman Ro Khanna believes the U.S. needs to keep its open-door policy regarding foreign workers in place, especially those who are creating jobs and helping to shape the economy, and called for a “common sense” approach to reforming the nation’s H-1B visa program.

Khanna, who represents California’s 17th congressional district, has first-hand experience working with H-1B candidates in Silicon Valley, where a large number of Indian immigrants are employed.

“Of course, we have to end the abuses. We shouldn’t have companies that have more than 50 percent H-1B visas and we should make sure that they are paid the prevailing wage,” the first-term congressman told The Press Trust of India.

“These are common sense reforms that even people like Venk Shukla (TiE Silicon Valley leader) and many Americans believe in, let’s fix the system, end the abuses but make sure we recognize the role of immigrants in creating jobs,” he said.

The H-1B, a nonimmigrant visa, allows American companies to hire foreign workers in occupations that require advanced technical expertise. India consistently registers the highest amount of H-1B candidates, and the nation’s tech companies are dependent on the army of workers that move to the states by the tens of thousands each year.

Khanna, who unseated Democratic incumbent Mike Honda last November, was sworn-in in January and said, “we have to remain open to immigration, people coming here who can contribute jobs and help the economy.”

Khanna also pushed for strong relations between India and the U.S., in particular the trade ties.

“There’s a strategic partnership in advancing market security interests. India provides a large export market for American products with a large growing middle class. That can help create jobs in the United States,” he said.

“They both share values of democratic pluralism of a respect and tolerance for different faiths, a respect for dissent, a respect for robust journalism, a respect for spirituality. I think that there is the common values also,” Khanna said, adding he looks forward to visit India soon.

Condemning the recent hate crimes against Indian-Americans and Indians, he said the community has tremendously contributed to jobs, innovation, and service to the armed forces.

“There’s been an outpouring of support, both from Democrats and Republicans, to say that hate crimes and hate speech have no place in the United States,” he said.

Khanna is working with other Indian-American lawmakers Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Ami Bera, and with Congressman Joe Crowley to make sure they have a federal task force that deals with hate crimes.

“We’ve had tremendous support in a coalition, republican and Democrat colleagues, from people like John Lewis, and from the Hispanic-American caucus. It’s a broad coalition.From the Jewish-American community, there’s concerns about anti-semitism. It’s a broad coalition that believes that this country doesn’t have any place for hate, or hate speech,” he said.

The election of a record number of five Indian-Americans to the Congress for the first time, is giving the community a lot of confidence, he said. “A sense of inspiring young people to seek careers in public service, to go into the military, to go into foreign service. It has really inspired, I think, many young folks to answer the call to service,” Khanna said.