IRLI Files Opening Brief in Washtech v. DHS Appeal to Protect American Workers

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October 25, 2017

Making the Government Put the American Worker First

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed an opening brief in the case of Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The brief challenges a 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.

In 2015 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). In 2016, the Obama administration reissued the rule which IRLI challenged again. In that case, the U.S. District Court for D.C. ruled in favor of DHS, and IRLI has filed an appeal.

Among the arguments in the brief, Washtech claims that DHS has unlawfully claimed equal authority with Congress to define classes of aliens that may be allowed to enter, remain and work in the United States. Such a move has major implications for the nation’s immigration system.

The brief also explains how the DHS program requires employers to provide mentoring programs to foreign workers but does not require the same for Americans, including Washtech members. The double standard is a clear example of employment discrimination.

“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,” said Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI’s executive director and general counsel. “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.”

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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