Rubio, Jeb Silent On Disney Layoffs As Dem Demands Investigation

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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After reports that Disney fired hundreds of American tech workers and forced them to train their foreign replacements, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate Disney, but his fellow Floridians, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, have not commented.

Hundreds of Disney tech employees, many highly regarded and experienced, were informed last October they were being replaced by a foreign work force, and they could either stick around through January and train their replacements, or they could leave immediately and forego their severance packages.

The contracting firm Disney hired relies heavily on foreign workers brought into the country on temporary work permits known as H-1bs, which are intended to allow companies to bring high-skilled workers for jobs American workers can’t or won’t fill.

But at least in this case, many of those workers were far younger and less experienced than the American workers they replaced. One of the fired tech workers who experienced the office takeover told The Daily Caller News Foundation some of them admitted they had been flown into the country just weeks before starting at Disney.

Bush, who will likely vie for the Republican nomination for president, wants to dramatically expand the number of foreign workers businesses can bring in on H-1b visas. He did not respond to multiple requests for an explanation of his position on the H-1b program or the Disney layoffs.

Rubio, who has officially announced he is running for president, is sponsoring a bill known as “I-squared” that would triple the cap on the number of temporary guest workers businesses could bring into the country on H-1b visas every year. It would allow for a virtually unlimited number of university-based green cards.

The big businesses backing this bill and clamoring for more guest workers insist they can’t find enough Americans willing or able to fill certain “high-skilled” jobs, and Rubio apparently agrees.

But when TheDCNF broke the story on the Disney layoffs, Rubio declined to explain why he is sponsoring the bill or to address concerns over the laid off constituents, many of whom were forced into early retirement or are still looking for a new job. (RELATED: Zuckerberg Ally On Americans Losing Jobs To Foreign Labor: ‘This Is What This Whole Country Is Built On)

In light of the Disney layoffs, Nelson has asked DHS to investigate the H-1b visa program. But asked again to comment or explain his position on the H-1b program, neither Rubio’s campaign nor his Senate office responded to multiple requests from TheDCNF. (RELATED: Rubio Doubles Down On Gang Of Eight Bill)

Nelson voted with Rubio for the 2013 immigration overhaul known as the “Gang of Eight” bill, which would have more than doubled the cap on H-1b visas, and indicated in his request to DHS he supports the visa program and also buys the big business claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers.

“While I understand the need for more high-skilled workers where there are shortages in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, I am concerned in the wake of news reports indicating that the program may be serving workers in less specialized positions,” Nelson wrote in the letter to DHS.

Jay Palmer, who lost his job for exposing his company’s H-1b abuses, called Rubio’s position “extremely upsetting” on the “Laura Ingraham Show” Friday. Businesses “are bringing them in, Americans are training them, and then Americans are in the unemployment line,” he said. “It’s just ridiculous. I can’t believe he would even go on the record and say, or to support this bill.”

Southern California Edison (SCE) and Fossil Group have also recently laid off hundreds of American workers and replaced them with foreign workers. A group of the SCE workers are suing the Obama administration, which refused a request from a bipartisan group of senators to investigate the reports of H-1b abuses.

Republican senators and presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul also want to dramatically expand the H-1b program. (RELATED: This Is The Only 2016 Candidate Expressly Committed To Reducing Legal Immigration)

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