U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
People stand on the steps of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices in New York.Reuters

US President Donald Trump is no stranger to criticism and hence, it did not come as a surprise when he was slammed for the legislation passed by a Congressional committee a few days ago, which imposed a number of restrictions on H-1B visa holders and the companies that hire them.

Trump has often been called "anti-immigrant" and things were no different on Thursday, November 16, when the new legislation was passed. However, an Indian-American official, who is a prominent figure at the White House, has now come to Trump's defence saying that the new legislation is not anti-immigrant but aims to protect the rights of American workers.

"First of all, I don't think that the rhetoric is anti-immigrant. I think it's anti-illegal immigration," the Press Trust of India quoted White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah as saying.

Shah also slammed the media for the way it covers issues, and said that the coverage "sometimes" leaves the White House "frustrated".

Explaining the new legislation, Shah said that it intends to make immigration "more merit-based" and "reform" the legal system regarding it. As per the new legislation, the minimum salary of H-1B visa holders is likely to increase to $90,000 from $60,000, but it also comes with a number of restrictions.

Under the regulation, firms that hire H-1B employees cannot replace American workers with them and there are now no exceptions to it. Additionally, it also says that employers taking in H-1B workers, as well as their client firms, cannot layoff equivalent American employees.

"To ask for immigration to support the US economy, for asking for people who are coming here to be vetted for public safety or security threats, I don't think it's a very big leap. I think it's very reasonable. The public supports that," he added.

While Shah might believe that the new legislation is a good move, NASSCOM president R Chandrashekhar has clearly said that these regulations could harm the US economy.

"It also could disrupt the marketplace, threaten thousands of US jobs, and stifle US innovation by unfairly and arbitrarily targeting a handful of companies who used just 16 percent of the new H-1B visas in FY 2016 while imposing no new requirements on the vast majority of companies that use the visas to do the same exact same things," he said.

Additionally, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have also expressed concerns over the H-1B visa policies in the past and even discussed the matter with US officials.