Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) spoke out against Oregonian forestry contractors who used stimulus money to hire legal foreign workers instead of unemployed Americans. Earlier this year, Rep. DeFazio introduced the bi-partisan Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification and Illegal Immigration Control Act (H.R.483) that would require all businesses to use E-Verify. Oregon's unemployment rate is slightly above the national average, standing at 9.6%.
Rep. DeFazio responded to a Department of Labor report that found that Oregonian forestry contractors abused the H-2B visa program to use stimulus money to hire foreign workers.
"We've set up a system that is easily gamed," Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said.
According to the Department of Labor report, the forestry contractors hired 254 seasonal workers holding H-2B visas costing at least $7 million of stimulus money. The H-2B visa requires that employers demonstrate that there are no available American workers before requesting the visas. But forestry contractors advertised for the jobs in small newspapers and began the hiring process months before the actual work began, causing issues for unemployed Americans collecting unemployment benefits.
"These people still could have made a profit and employed Oregonians. How greedy are they?" Rep. DeFazio said. "I thought about different angles on how we could prosecute these people. Unfortunately, we can't. Which is a shame."
For more information on this story, see Oregon Live.
Updated: Thu, Nov 3rd 2011 @ 1:19pm EDT