The Obama administration has launched an investigation into suspected abuses of the H-1b visa program after reports that Disney fired hundreds of tech workers and forced them to train their foreign replacements and at the urging of a bipartisan group of senators.
The Department of Labor is investigating Infosys and Tata, who used the H-1b visa program to replace hundreds of American workers at Southern California Edison with foreign workers holding the temporary work visas, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin announced Thursday.
“We’re pleased to hear that the Labor Department is taking a first step to stanch this tide of visa abuse,” the senators said in a joint statement. “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.”
“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 program is intended to help businesses bring in high-skilled workers to fill positions American workers can’t or won’t fill. But Southern California Edison, Fossil Group and most recently Disney have together fired hundreds of American tech workers and forced them to train their foreign replacements, many of whom were flown in specifically to take their job. (RELATED: Disney Blacklisted Displaced American Workers)
Sessions and Durbin led an unlikely coalition of senators to write a letter to the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor in April, asking for an investigation into suspected H-1B abuses.
“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,” the senators wrote in the letter. (RELATED: Obama Announces Unilateral Action To Bring In More Guest Workers)
The Department of Homeland Security recently refused the senators’ request, saying at the time an investigation would be “premature.” (RELATED: Zuckerberg Ally On Americans Losing Jobs To Foreign Labor: ‘This Is What This Whole Country Is Built On)
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Claire McCaskill also signed the letter, along with Republican Sens. Chuck Grassley, David Vitter, Bill Cassidy, Jim Inhofe and Independent Sen. and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. (RELATED: Fiorina Slams Disney, Then Admits She Used H-1B Program To Hire Foreign Workers)
After recent reports of the Disney layoffs, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson also asked the Department of Homeland Security to investigate.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush have not commented on the news. Nelson has voted to expand the H-1B program, and Bush and Rubio want to dramatically expand the program. (RELATED: As Floridians Are Displaced, Rubio Demands More Foreign Workers)
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