At the request of Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, the Obama administration has expanded its investigation of the H-1b visa program, the same one companies are reportedly using to displace American workers.
The Department of Homeland Security is now working with the Department of Labor to expand the investigation beyond Southern California Edison, per the initial request Nelson made following reports that Disney also replaced hundreds of tech workers with cheap foreign labor. The visas are intended to help companies bring in high-skilled foreign workers for jobs Americans can’t fill, but some companies are reportedly using them to cut labor costs. (RELATED: Disney Blacklisted Displaced American Workers)
A bipartisan group of senators asked the Obama administration in April to launch an investigation into SCE, but were initially refused. Shortly after The Daily Caller News Foundation and The New York Times reported on the Disney layoffs, however, the DoL announced it would investigate SCE. Following that announcement, DHS responded to Nelson’s request, saying it would work with DoL on a broader investigation of the H-1b visa program.
Southern California Edison, Fossil Group, Disney and now Catalina Marketing have hired outsourcing firms that rely heavily on H-1bs, and then laid off dozens or hundreds of tech workers, some of whom were expected to train their foreign replacements. (RELATED: Zuckerberg Ally On Americans Losing Jobs To Foreign Labor: ‘This Is What This Whole Country Is Built On)
Nelson renewed his request for a comprehensive investigation Tuesday, following the most recent reports of the Catalina Marketing layoffs. “This underscores the need for a thorough inquiry into a program meant to bring more high-skilled workers to the U.S. in fields where there are labor shortages,” he wrote in a letter to DoL.
Fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination, recently broke his silence on the abuses, but stopped short of calling for specific action. “If the program was misused, then people should be held accountable,” a spokeswoman for Rubio’s Senate office told TheDCNF. (RELATED: Rubio, Jeb Silent On Disney Layoffs As Dem Demands Investigation)
The California Assembly and Senate passed a joint resolution Monday calling on the Obama administration and Congress to investigate the H-1b abuses, and urging companies in California to stop replacing California workers with foreign workers using the H-1b program or any other program.
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