Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) responded to President Obama's new L-1B visa policy memorandum with a letter requesting answers on the effects that this new policy may have on American workers. The new policy, announced by the Obama administration, will allow for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers being admitted to the United States, which could result in the displacement of U.S. workers.
In the letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director, Leon Rodriguez, Grassley wrote, "I fear -- especially in light of the remarks made by the President in March -- the effect that this L-1B memo will have on American workers, particularly in the IT sector, who are already battered by mass layoffs, job offshoring, and depressed wages."
According to the Center for Immigration Studies there are more than five million native-born Americans with STEM undergraduate degrees working in non-STEM occupations. In 2012 an additional 1.2 million natives with STEM degrees were not working, either unemployed or out of the workforce.
The L-1B visa was designed to enable a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with "specialized knowledge" from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States for a short period of time. In his letter, Sen. Grassley notes that the L-1B visa was never intended by Congress to be a high-volume temporary foreign worker program.
Grassley also points out that in order to reach Obama's goal of bringing in hundreds of thousands of L-1B workers the definition of "specialized knowledge" would have to be broaden and would "also accelerate the offshoring of jobs from the United States." This action opposes the Immigration Act of 1990, which "appears to be an effort to clarify, not broaden, the definition of specialized knowledge," according to the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
Some companies have used the L-1B and the H-1B visa programs to replace American workers for cheaper foreign workers. Last fall Disney laid off hundreds of tech workers and replaced them with H-1B and L-1B guest workers, even though the foreign workers did not offer additional specialized skills. The American tech workers were forced to train their replacements in order to receive their severance pay.
Grassley also notes that Obama announced this policy as a memorandum and not as a regulation. As a memo there is no opportunity for public comments, to which the administration must respond, and is not subject to the requirement that the administration perform an economic impact assessment of the policy.
Sen. Grassley ends the letter with 14 questions for USICS to answer about Obama's memo and the current state of the L-1B visa program to discern if the implementation of this policy will adversely affect American workers.
You can read entire letter here.
Updated: Wed, Oct 11th 2017 @ 11:27am EDT