IRLI Files Lawsuit on Behalf of American Workers Challenging Unlawful Guestworker Program

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June 17, 2016

Making Government Put American Workers before Big Business

June 16, 2016

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed in the U.S. District Court for D.C. a federal lawsuit (attached here) challenging a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program, called Optional Practical Training (OPT), which unlawfully permits non-student aliens to remain and work in the United States on student visas after graduation. IRLI represents the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Local 37083 of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (Washtech), a labor union that represents American technology workers located throughout the U.S. and whose members are forced to compete for jobs with foreign labor. Last year, IRLI was successful in challenging a 2008 OPT program extension for STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) alien graduates as violating the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).

DHS’s OPT program is nothing other than a full-fledged, administratively-created guestworker program designed by big business and its bought-and-paid-for political cronies to bypass the American labor protections contained in law that cap the number of foreign guestworkers allowed into the U.S. every year. Not only does the OPT program create more competition for suitable unemployed and underemployed American workers, but it creates a tax incentive for unscrupulous employers to hire foreign labor over American workers because aliens on student visas and their employers do not have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes. In its four-count complaint, Washtech assails the twelve-month OPT program established in 1992 available to all alien college graduates and the two-year extension rule available to STEM alien graduates issued this year to replace the vacated 2008 extension rule. Washtech alleges that DHS has violated both procedural and substantive APA provisions.

Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s Executive Director, commented, “DHS’s OPT program was designed to circumvent the American labor protections established in law at the request of big business desirous of cheap labor. IRLI’s lawsuit alleges, among other things, that DHS exceeded its statutory authority by crafting this unlawful guestworker program.” Wilcox continued, “The importance of this case cannot be overstated as the jobs of millions of American college graduates and workers still remain at risk despite IRLI successfully challenging the 2008 OPT extension rule last year. IRLI will continue the fight for the American worker and hold the Obama Administration accountable to the rule of law.”

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