IRLI Sues Department of Homeland Security

Press Releases

May 29, 2008

The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) today sued Secretary Michael Chertoff and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the United States District Court in New Jersey. The lawsuit seeks to have the court declare DHS regulations implemented last month unlawful.

DHS’ guest worker program extends the time foreign students with degrees in Mathematics, Engineering, Science or Technology are allowed to work after graduation under Optional Practical Training, from 12 months to 29 months. The OPT regulations allow unlimited numbers of foreign students to work as ‘candidate H-1B workers,’ directly competing with qualified Americans. DHS estimates that tens of thousands of aliens will immediately apply under the new regulations.

“Immigration law is very clear that student visas are for students to come to the U.S. solely and temporarily for study. Instead, DHS invented its own guest worker program to circumvent the annual H-1B visa cap,” said Mike Hethmon, General Counsel for IRLI. “DHS not only took this illegal action but did it as an emergency measure to prevent American citizens from weighing in.”

“The DHS ruling encourages employers to discriminate against U.S. workers. Employers can now use the OPT program to train foreign students for two-and-a-half years, rather than invest in our own domestic IT labor force,” charged John Miano, an attorney and noted advocate for programmers working with IRLI. “These are not jobs that Americans won’t do, or cannot be trained to do. Rather, these are desirable computer programming and engineering jobs that are being denied to U.S. workers with the complicity of the federal government.”

Three professional organizations, the Programmers Guild, American Engineering Association, and, as well as individual members injured by DHS’ actions, are Plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

“DHS has both overstepped its authority and caused injury to American workers — just as the economy heads downward,” said Hethmon. “It’s too bad that defending the American workforce is a job that American public officials won’t do. But with the help of our workforce heroes at the Programmers Guild, AEA, and Bright futures, IRLI is confident the courts will declare the new OPT guest worker program to be illegal.”

IRLI is a public interest law firm working to protect the legal rights, privileges, and property of U.S. citizens in immigration-related matters.

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