Shortly after the Southern California Edison Company fired about 500 of its tech workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders, Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) led a bipartisan congressional group which demanded that then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez investigate.
In their letter, the senators questioned how American employees could be laid off and so easily replaced by overseas workers. But the bulk of the letter also suggested that other, more insidious employment practices are in play.
|Infosys ordered to pay record
$34 million visa fraud fine.
The most important question the senators asked was whether the H-1B workers are employees of the U.S. companies laying off American workers, or are instead contractors employed by foreign-owned IT consulting companies, an increasingly popular practice in the pursuit of cheap labor. Follow-up questions asked if the consultants, in this case Infosys Ltd., engaged in discrimination against U.S. citizens and if there were any indications of fraud or misrepresentation between the employer and the petitioner. Infosys is India’s second-largest software services provider.
Not surprisingly, the DOL absolved SCE and Infosys of all wrongdoing. The judgement shows that Infosys is skilled at maneuvering the H-1B loopholes that allows it to subvert the visa’s original intent – the temporary placement of truly high-skilled engineers for a specific task, and not the permanent displacement of qualified American engineers.
Two years ago Infosys wasn’t so lucky. U.S. Attorney John M. Bales from Texas’ Eastern District ordered Infosys to pay record $34 million to settle a civil case that alleged systemic visa fraud and immigration abuses. Wrote Attorney Bates: “The H-1B and B-1 visa programs are designed and intended to protect the American worker, and we will vigorously enforce the requirements of those programs." Read Bates’ other comments and the complete, very long list of egregious charges against Infosys here.
How the evidence charging visa abuse is defined may depend on who’s looking at it. Attorney Bates is an impartial analyst weighing the proof independently. Secretary Perez is an Obama administration employee, and supports more immigration regardless of its impact on American workers.