The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced plans to “protect U.S. workers from H-1B program discrimination by providing greater transparency and oversight.” DOL says it will take the following actions in defense of our domestic labor market:

  • Rigorously use all of its existing authority to initiate investigations of H-1B program violators.
  • Consider changes to the Labor Condition Application – used to determine the wage paid to H-1B employees – for future application cycles.
  • Continue to engage stakeholders on how the program might be improved to provide greater protections for U.S. workers, under existing authorities or through legislative changes.

The DOL statement came on the heels of a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announcement that the Civil Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) will begin enforcing the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that prohibit employers from discriminating against U.S. citizens when hiring employees. IER’s precursor, the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices often prioritized employment discrimination complaints filed by foreigners – even illegal aliens – over those submitted by U.S. citizens.

Agency statements are a dime a dozen in Washington, D.C., and the H-1B program could still use a stem to stern overhaul. Its loose structure and inconsistent vetting procedures makes it attractive to fraudsters. It’s also a magnet for educated foreign intelligence operatives and degreed terrorists seeking a relatively easy method of entry into the United States – a particular concern in the age of cyber-crime, given the program’s high-tech bent. However, after years of the DOL blatantly refusing to engage in meaningful immigration enforcement activities, and decades of the DOJ defending the rights of alien workers, to the detriment of U.S. employees, these are definite moves in the right direction.

President Trump has consistently said that he came to D.C. to “drain the swamp.” It looks like there’s a new sheriff in town and he’s just told his deputies, “Hit the streets and protect the American worker!”