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On the Senate floor yesterday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, decried the Obama Administration’s proposed rule giving work permits to the spouses of certain H-1B visa holders. He said Congress did not authorize the Administration proposal. “They act on their own,” Sen. Grassley said. “And, they do it to the detriment of American workers.”

Sen. Grassley argued the proposal will allow more foreign workers “to come, work, and compete with U. S. workers in high-skilled fields despite the well-documented fraud in the H-1B program. “(T)he Obama administration clearly doesn’t seem concerned with the millions of unemployed Americans, and those who have been forced out of their jobs because companies prefer to hire lower-paid workers from abroad,” Grassley said.

Sen. Grassley continued, “In addition to their lack of compassion and understanding for American workers, it’s disturbing that the administration is once again circumventing Congress and implementing their own rules. As with other unilateral actions this administration has taken, I question their legal authority to issue this rule.

“In 2001, Congress explicitly laid out in statute that the Secretary could provide work authorizations to certain spouses of foreign workers. Congress said that work authorizations could be given to spouses of L1 (intercompany transfers) and E (treaty traders/investors) visa holders. Congress did not, at that time, give spouses of H-1B visa holders the permission to work. It could have, but it didn’t.

“The administration may claim that it has broad authority to issue work authorizations to anyone in the United States. If the executive branch has such broad authority, then why would Congress explicitly lay out the category of visa holders and foreign nationals who could work in the U.S.? And, what will come next? Where will this administration stop? What other categories of individuals will be granted work authorizations?”

Read more in Sen. Grassley’s press release.

Barack Obama
H-1B visas
executive fiat
congress