Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) lead a bipartisan group of 10 Senators who have sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez calling for an investigation of labor practices in the IT sector:
A number of U.S. employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have reportedly laid off thousands of American workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. 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. This troubling practice seems to be particularly concentrated in the information technology (IT) sector, which is not surprising given that sixty five percent of the H-1B petitions approved in FY 2014 were for workers in computer related occupations. Though such reports of H-1B-driven layoffs have been circulating for years, their frequency seems to have increased dramatically in the past year alone.
In many cases it appears that the H-1B workers are not employees of the U.S. companies laying off American workers, but instead are contractors employed by foreign-owned IT consulting companies. This increasingly popular business practice by U.S. companies and foreign-owned IT outsourcing firms raises several questions. For example, have the U.S. companies that have laid off American workers and replaced them with H-1B workers and/or the IT consulting contractors engage in prohibited citizen status discrimination against U.S. citizens? Did the Labor Condition Applications certified by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administrations and the petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services for each H-1B visa holder who replaced a U.S. worker at these companies accurately reflect the scope and location of their work? Did such labor condition applications or visa petitions show any evidence of misrepresentation or fraud by employer-petitioners? Did the employer-petitioners maintain a true employer-employee relationship with the H-1B workers after they were placed at the U.S. client company?
Senator Sessions was appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration back in January and immediately took aim at the practice of leading tech companies routing U.S. workers and replacing them with guest workers.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created a lobbying group named FWD.us to push for increasing H-1B quotas primarily due to a lack of U.S. STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) graduates. The Senate group disputes this reported lack of qualified Americans:
According to Sessions’ office, 11 million Americans with STEM degrees do not currently hold jobs in those fields. Each year the U.S. graduates twice the number of STEM students as find jobs — meanwhile the vast majority of entry-level IT hiring goes to foreign guest workers.
Senator Sessions said, “There is no ‘shortage’ of talented Americans, only a shortage of officials willing to protect them.”