The Department of Justice and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will expand their cooperation to combat fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers of foreign visa workers, DOJ announced Friday.
The two agencies announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which will allow for better mutual training, collaboration, and sharing of information. The end goal of this shared work is a crackdown on U.S. employers who hire foreign labor rather than employing Americans in line with federal law.
"In the spirit of President Trump's Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, today's partnership adds to the Civil Rights Division's tools to stop employers from discriminating against U.S. workers by favoring foreign visa workers," explained Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division.
President Donald Trump's executive order, signed in April of 2017, called among other things for a tightening of enforcement of federal laws governing immigration for employment. Under the Immigration and Nationalization Act, any would-be economic immigrant is inadmissible unless his employer can show that there are not sufficient resident workers to fill the job, and that the would-be immigrant "will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed."
These limitations seem to be only questionably effective at preserving the upwards limits on economic migration nominally imposed by the INA. An analysis from the Center for Immigration Studies found that more than 7 million immigrants received work permits between 2009 and 2014; a study from the Migration Policy Institute showed that awarded H-1B work visa petitions more than quadrupled the number of visas allowed under law.
The Justice Department has already implemented a number of initiatives aimed at enforcing the "Buy American and Hire American" order. The U.S. Workers Initiative, launched in 2017, has lead to dozens of investigations, a lawsuit, and settlements with two employers. The initiative, DOJ said, has led to over $200,000 in back pay being returned to affected U.S. employees.
For its part, USCIS has created dedicated tip lines for H-1B and H-2B fraud, as well as expanding its rate of site visits. L. Francis Cissna, Director of USCIS, said that he expected the MOU would contribute substantially to USCIS's work to preserve the integrity of the federal immigration system.
"This agreement enhances the level of coordination among investigators who often work on the same issues at different agencies. Breaking down silos and working with our federal partners to combat employment discrimination will help ensure that U.S. workers have the advocate they need at the highest level," Cissna said.