AILA Applauds Labor Support for CIR, Challenges Mischaracterizations of Employment-Based Visa Programs

Cite as "AILA InfoNet Doc. No. 09041730 (posted Apr. 17, 2009)"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, April 17, 2009
CONTACT:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) was pleased when earlier this week, the nation's two major labor federations, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win, agreed for the first time to join forces to support comprehensive immigration reform that would include a path to citizenship for the nation's 12 million undocumented immigrants. "In many ways it was a historic announcement from the country's most powerful labor federations," said Charles H. Kuck, president of AILA. "The recent accord between the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win signals an important step forward in the effort to reform our immigration system this year."

However, AILA is deeply concerned by some of the proposals put forth in a new report following on the heels of the labor unity announcement. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in partnership with the A.F.L.-C.I.O., yesterday published a report by Ray Marshall entitled Immigration for Shared Prosperity. "We are deeply troubled by the attacks made against the H-1B and L visa programs in this report, especially at a time when momentum to fix America's immigration system is building," Kuck stated.

AILA is puzzled by the venomous and inflammatory attacks on H-1B and L-1 employers contained in the executive summary of this report. The H-1B program carefully protects wages by requiring that companies pay the higher of the wage paid by their competitors for comparable positions or the wage the company itself pays to other comparable workers. These protections are enforced by the Department of Labor and non-compliance already includes heavy penalties, including complete bars from petitioning for any foreign worker. Furthermore, H-1B employers are required to pay a $500 fraud prevention and detection fee for the initial H-1B petition which funds the government's ability to investigate potential fraud in the H-1B program, not to mention the fee of up to $1500 filed with each petition to help train U.S. workers. If employers are deliberately violating the program requirements, the DOL can and should levy penalties. But the characterization of these programs as a means of obtaining cheap, indentured labor is false and irresponsible.

"U.S. economic recovery and growth depends on the U.S. remaining competitive in a globalized economy with a globalized work force. This is the reality that Congress needs to consider as it crafts new legislation," said Kuck. "Legislation based on faulty and incendiary allegations will undermine economic growth, cripple our nation's global competitiveness and disserve the interests of all workers in this country," Kuck concluded.

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