Recently, I attended an immigration conference in Washington D.C. that included several American engineers. The agenda included a discussion about the fired Southern California Edison and Disney IT workers who, in addition to losing their jobs to H-1B visa holders, had to suffer the indignity of training their foreign-born replacements or lose their severance.
|Sen. Judiciary Chair Grassley demands answers about L Visas.
During the back and forth, one of the engineers said that while the H-1B visa gets the most attention as an American job destroyer, he felt that the lesser known L visa is a bigger threat. CAPS has covered in depth the increased use and abuse of the L-1 visa, as well as President Obama’s enthusiastic endorsement of it. After U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a 34 percent decline in L-1 approvals, Obama rushed to loosen the standards even though a 2006 Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General report found widespread abuse in visa applications.
Ironically and unbeknownst to the attendees, at the same time that we gathered, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote to USCIS director Leon Rodriguez to express his concern that Obama’s “reforms” could substantially increase the numbers of L-1 and L-1B admissions and further harm already struggling Americans, particularly in the IT sector. Grassley questioned the so-called specialized knowledge of L visa transfers from international to domestic assignments, as well as the blanket petitions that expedite their arrival in the U.S.
The crux of Grassley’s statement to Rodriguez:
“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. I expect, regardless what the memo may actually provide, that ‘the message’ has already been sent to USCIS adjudicators, from no less than the President himself: the L-1B denial and RFE [requests for information] rates must go down.”
Grassley attached to his letter a list of 14 questions, including one that asked if USCIS has done an economic impact analysis on how huge increases in overseas workers would affect jobless Americans. If not, Grassley wants to know why not.
Rodriguez has until October 8 to reply.