Several legislators from the Democratic Party in the United States on Wednesday came out in opposition to the Donald Trump administration’s move to end work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders. They called it a regressive move that would hurt the American economy. The lawmakers were speaking at an event hosted by the US India Friendship Council, a group headed by Indian-American businessman Swadesh Chatterjee, The Hindu reported.

“I oppose the move to terminate work permits to H-4 visas,” Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said. H-4 visas are allotted to spouses of H-1B visa holders. “We worked with the Barack Obama administration to institute a rule that said the spouses of H-1B should also be able to work. If we have talented men and women who are spouses, we want them to be able to also contribute those skills.” She said that the Trump administration’s move would hurt many spouses and children of H-1B visa holders throughout the US.

She also said that the administration’s decision discriminated against women, who are the biggest beneficiaries of the rule, PTI reported.

Jayapal admitted that there was a need to reform the H-1B visa programme so that it was not misused, leading to loss of jobs for US workers. But she said immigration contributed to job creation and economic growth. “All of the research shows us that immigration does not take jobs away from people; it actually contributes to greater economic growth, but also the ability of American workers to move up themselves,” Jayapal asserted.

Congressman Ro Khanna said that he opposed the government’s move as women could become vulnerable in the absence of economic independence. “It is also a question of countering domestic violence,” he observed.

Indians comprise around 70% of all H-1B workers in the US. Most of them are employed in the information technology sector. The Department of Homeland Security had first recommended scrapping work permits for the workers’ spouses in December 2017.