Sessions, Durbin Lead Bipartisan Group Of Senators Demanding Federal Investigation of SoCal Edison

Sessions: “There is no ‘shortage’ of talented Americans, only a shortage of officials willing to protect them.”

APRIL 9, WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, issued the following statement today after he and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, asking them to investigate Southern California Edison’s use of the H-1B guest worker program to replace American workers:

“Southern California Edison ought to be the tipping point that finally compels Washington to take needed actions to protect American workers. As Professor Ron Hira testified, the H-1B visa has become ‘a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans… Most of the H-1B program is now being used to import cheaper foreign guestworkers, replacing American workers, and undercutting their wages.’ The U.S. is graduating twice as many STEM students each year as find jobs in those fields, yet the H-1B program continues to provide IT companies with a large annual supply of lower-wage guest workers to hire in place of more qualified Americans. There is no ‘shortage’ of talented Americans, only a shortage of officials willing to protect them.”

Text of the Senators’ letter follows:

“Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretaries Johnson and Perez:

We are concerned about recent information that has come to light regarding the abuse of the H-1B visa program by Southern California Edison (SCE) and other employers to replace large numbers of American workers. We urge you to investigate this matter.

A number of U.S. employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have reportedly 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. This troubling practice seems to be particularly concentrated in the information technology (IT) sector, which is not surprising given that sixty five percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2014 were for workers in computer-related occupations. 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.

In many cases it appears that the H-1B workers are not employees of the U.S. company laying off American workers, but instead are contractors employed by foreign-owned IT consulting companies. This increasingly popular business practice by U.S. companies and foreign-owned IT outsourcing firms raises several questions. For example, have the U.S. companies that have laid off American workers and replaced them with H-1B workers and/or the IT consulting contractors the companies retained engaged in prohibited citizenship status discrimination against U.S. citizens? Did the Labor Condition Applications certified by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the petitions approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for each H-1B visa holder who replaced a U.S. worker at these companies accurately reflect the scope and location of their work? Did such labor condition applications or visa petitions show any evidence of misrepresentation or fraud by the employer-petitioners? Did the employer-petitioners maintain a true employer-employee relationship with the H-1B workers after they were placed at the U.S. client company? While media reports indicate that the H-1B visa program is the principal visa program at issue in the layoffs, were other visa programs, such as the L-1B or the B-1, also used to displace American workers at U.S. companies?

We respectfully request that you investigate the unacceptable replacement of American workers by H-1B workers to ascertain whether SCE or any other U.S. companies that have engaged in this practice, or the IT consulting companies supplying those companies with H-1B workers, have violated the law. Additionally, please notify us of any obstacles in existing law to conducting such an investigation.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Richard J. Durbin
United States Senator

Jeff Sessions
United States Senator

Richard Blumenthal
United States Senator

Charles E. Grassley
United States Senator

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator

David Vitter
United States Senator

Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

Bill Cassidy
United States Senator

Bernard Sanders
United States Senator

James M. Inhofe
United States Senator”

[NOTE: To view the signed letter as a PDF, please click here.]