A long awaited plan to curb H-1B visa abuse

Here’s something which the federal government should have been doing years ago, but I suppose better late than never applies. The Justice Department has entered into a cooperative agreement with the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to more strictly monitor and enforce laws barring fraud and abuse of guest worker visa programs such as H-1B and H-2B. These types of abuse have traditionally not been assigned a very high priority in terms of investigations and can be difficult to detect unless someone reports the employer to law enforcement. Combining forces in this fashion should allow them to crack down more effectively. (Free Beacon)

The Department of Justice and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will expand their cooperation to combat fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers of foreign visa workers, DOJ announced Friday.

The two agencies announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will allow for better mutual training, collaboration, and sharing of information. The end goal of this shared work is a crackdown on U.S. employers who hire foreign labor rather than employing Americans in line with federal law.

“In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, today’s partnership adds to the Civil Rights Division’s tools to stop employers from discriminating against U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers,” explained Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.

H-1B visas are issued to workers offering services in a specialty occupation or “services of exceptional merit.” The H-2B program allows employers to petition the government for permission to bring nonimmigrant workers into the country to fill non-agricultural jobs on a temporary basis.

These programs were originally intended to help employers fill job openings when there were no citizens or legal resident aliens available to take the jobs. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many cases where employers have abused the system to bring in foreign workers who were willing to do the jobs for far lower wages and fewer benefits than American workers. In some of the worst cases, companies were actively shedding citizen workers who were not only available but on the job and replacing them with H-1B workers. One of the prime examples of this was when Disney laid off a number of IT workers, only to replace them with imported talent earning lower pay.

There’s a bit of irony in seeing this enforcement priority change just as the nation is approaching what’s usually defined as “full employment.” At times such as this, you’d expect companies to have the most trouble filling specialty or highly technical positions and potentially need to import some foreign talent to fill those jobs. But if they’re still using the program to drive down wages, that’s both counter to the intent of the programs and a hindrance to the nation’s economic recovery.

Now if we can just get the Justice Department to more aggressively go after the companies hiring illegal aliens we might be onto something.