The Labor Department has pointed out its limitations to keep check on the H-1b visa abuses.
Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) have reiterated that there is an urgent need to check the alleged H-1B visa abuses. In a joint statement issued on Friday, the senators pressed for more powers for the Department of Labor to enable it to thoroughly investigate the H-1B program abuses.
“The Labor Department’s response further highlights the urgent need to end H-1B visa abuse. The wellbeing of thousands of hard-working Americans is at stake,” the joint statement read. “A number of U.S. employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have laid off thousands of American workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders.”
Grassley, six others, question post CBS’s 60 Minutes’ investigative episode on H-1B abuse, ‘You’re Fired.’
On March 29, 2017, four Senators – Chuck Grassley, Richard Durbin, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT); and three Members of Congress – Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ 9th District), Paul Gosar (R-AZ 4th District) and Dave Brat (R-VA 7th District), asked Secretary John Kelly and Acting Secretary Edward Huglar – of Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor, respectively – to apprise them of their efforts to curb H-1B visa frauds and abuses. The letter unequivocally asked if the Department is investigating the businesses mentioned in the 60 Minutes report. The program, which was broadcast on March 19, reported on the plight of American workers who were replaced by their H-1B substitutes. The American Bazaar did a story on the investigative piece. The two-page letter also asked the departments to enumerate tools that they need to ensure that employers do not indulge in discriminatory activities against the native workers.
Labor Department hints at reforms; but demands more powers.
In response, Acting Secretary of Labor Edward Hugler wrote back a detailed four-page letter on the department’s efforts; it also explained the limitations of his department. Hugler pointing out the necessity for more power to investigate the alleged H-1B frauds and abuses.
“The risk emanates from the Department’s statutory requirement to certify H-1B Labor Condition Applications unless they are deemed to be incomplete or obviously inaccurate,” Hugler said. “The Department is also considering changes to the Labor Condition Application (the application for a labor certification) for future application cycles.”
Hugler also brought to the fore concerns regarding employers using chinks in the infamous work visa program, which enables companies to legally higher cheaper alternatives for American workers.
“With respect to foreign workers being paid less than U.S. workers, the INA permits U.S. employers to offer ages to H-1B workers based on a four-tiered prevailing wage structure that accounts for experience, education, and the level of supervision for a given occupation. Since the enactment of the four-tiered wage structure in 2004, a large number of U.S. employers have employed H-1B workers at an entry level or “Tier 1” wage in areas where the “average” wage for all similarly employed American works in the local area is much higher. Absent a legislative change, the Department lacks the authority to alter the employers’ ability to take advantage of the four-tiered prevailing wage structure currently used by employers in H-1B Labor Condition Applications.”
Senators ensure reforms.
During Friday’s response, the senators affirmed support to the Labor Department. They said that at several instances employers have not only sacked the American workers, but also forced them to train their H-1B replacements. “To add insult to injury, many of the replaced American employees report that they have been forced to train the foreign workers who are taking their jobs,” the joint statement read. “That’s just plain wrong and our bipartisan legislation will help fix that problem, particularly by giving the Labor Department the authority it needs to investigate H-1B visa abuses. We remain committed to working with this Administration and our colleagues in Congress to pass our bill to protect American jobs for American workers.”
Earlier this year, Grassley and Durbin introduced the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act that aims to “prioritize qualified American workers” and end the H-1B and L-1 abuses.