In recent years we’ve seen any number of federal lawsuits alleging discrimination against employers. They have been brought based on allegations of racial discrimination against minorities, bias against gays and lesbians or even on religious grounds. But there’s a new one coming out of Colorado with a twist. The Justice Department is charging a company with violating the Immigration and Nationality Act by discriminating against American citizens in favor of immigrants applying for guest worker visas.
Crop Production Services Inc. was allegedly turning down American workers applying for seasonal agricultural jobs after demanding they meet more stringent job requirements than non-citizens with visas. (Free Beacon)
The complaint states that Crop Production Services discriminated against three Americans, Ramiro Torres, Ramiro Salinas, and Javier Salinas, “based on their citizenship status.”
The DOJ argues the company put these individuals through a more rigorous hiring and vetting process and denied them jobs as seasonal workers at a rice breeding facility in El Campo, Texas. The company instead filled all its positions with “H-2A visa holders from Mexico.”
“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “The Justice Department will enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to protect U.S. workers as they are the very backbone of our communities and our economy.”
The H2A visa program is similar to the H2B program we frequently discuss, but it’s specific to seasonal, agricultural work and comes with a number of restrictions. Foreign workers must have an employer acting as a petitioner sponsoring them and applying for the visa, in this case Crop Production Services. The program specifically requires that the petitioner show that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work. Further, they have to show that employing the guest workers will not adversely impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
If the DOJ has prepared their case well and the allegations are true, Crop Production Services could be in trouble. It’s alleged that they demanded U.S. citizens applying for these positions complete a background check and drug screening test before they could be considered for work while some of the H2A workers were allowed to start without completing those steps and, at least in some cases, never completed them at all. In two cases, the company gave workers Social Security numbers after they were hired. Since when do private companies issue Social Security numbers?
But underlying all of those specifics is the fundamental, stated purpose of the program. They were only supposed to be petitioning for H2A status for immigrant workers when no citizens were available and willing. If they were turning away U.S. applicants and hiring these immigrants they were abusing the program and should not be allowed to submit additional applications.
Did you ever think you’d hear a story like this? For years now, the only time you heard about a discrimination case involving questions of immigration was when the government was going after someone for discriminating against immigrants. Now we have a case of discrimination against American citizens moving forward. It’s Backwards Day in America, but in a good way for a change.