Big Business Moves to Protect Cheap Tech Labor

Press Releases

August 4, 2021

IRLI shows Trump rule helps American workers

WASHINGTON—The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), on behalf of U.S. Tech Workers, a group dedicated to advancing the interests of American workers in technology fields, has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a California federal district court opposing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s attempt to derail a Trump-era rule that cuts back on employers’ use of low-skilled, low-wage foreign tech labor.

The statute governing the H1-B visa program precludes visas to foreign workers who will be paid below the prevailing wage in the industry employers seek to hire them in. The statute, however, makes most enforcement of this limitation impossible. The result is that, for decades, industry has been replacing American tech workers with cheap H1-B workers, and lowering the wages of American workers still in the field.

In its brief, IRLI explains that the rule being attacked reduces the flow of cheap labor by prioritizing the hiring of higher-skilled, higher-paid foreign tech workers over lower-skilled, lower-paid ones. IRLI shows that the higher-skilled workers may even start new businesses, thus creating jobs for Americans, whereas the lower-paid workers will cut Americans’ jobs and wages.

“A recent study showed that American technology workers are far and away the best in the world,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “That stands to reason, since they built the technology that has revolutionized our lives while adding untold wealth to this and many other countries. It is one thing to supplement our tech strength by judiciously bringing in excellence from abroad,” Wilcox continued. “It is quite another to do what big business wants—flood our market with below-wage foreign labor so it can pay workers less. We hope the court sees how this rule works to effectuate Congress’s intent to protect American workers, and lets it stand.”

The case is U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. United States, No. 4:20-cv-07331 (N.D. Cal.).

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