The issue of preference given to foreign workers over Americans continues to garner interest in Congress and among those seeking immigration reform.
In February of this year, the Senate Judiciary Committee
examined allegations by U.S. workers who claimed that they were not only losing their jobs to lower paid foreign workers holding H-1B visas, but in some cases were being forced to train their replacements. Senator Charles Grassley
(R-IA) said that he believes that the Obama administration is "not interested at all" in reforming the H1-B visa program that allows certain specialized foreign workers to be given status to work in the U.S.
In a statement, Grassley wrote:
"Last year, I and nine other senators wrote to the three federal agencies with jurisdiction over the H-1B program and authority to investigate abuses of that program: the Departments of Justice, Labor, and Homeland Security. We asked those departments to investigate the troubling practice so many employers had adopted of laying off American workers and replacing them with H-1B workers. Unfortunately, at this point, no action has been taken. I still have hope that the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices in the Department of Justice may scrutinize the matter more closely."
Among the companies where Americans across the country were being laid off were Fortune 500 companies such as the Disney Corporation but especially in the lucrative fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Caterpillar announced today that it would be laying off 300 American professionals in Mossville, Illinois, while it continues to seek and hire H-1B foreign workers to fill open positions. Citing a "slow economy and restructuring," is laying off the workers at the plant near Peoria. These are in addition to hundreds of layoffs around the world. Even so, Caterpillar had requested 71 H-1B visas for white-collar jobs, with at least 30 of those earmarked for the Mossville plant. Since 2012, Caterpillar has requested 768 visas for H-1B workers.
As the Center for Immigration Studies recently reported, a wealthy Silicon Valley insider offered a candid assessment of the H-1B program, noting that it "...amounts to indentured servitude, a type of peonage."