Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced plans on Tuesday, June 6, to increase protections of American workers by more aggressively combatting visa fraud and abuse. Non-immigrant visas that increase competition for American workers will be put under closer scrutiny in conformity with President Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order.

“Entities who engage in visa program fraud and abuse are breaking our laws and are harming American workers, negatively affecting Americans’ ability to provide for themselves and their families. We will enforce vigorously those laws, including heightened use of criminal referrals,” said Secretary Acosta in his announcement. “The U.S. Department of Labor will focus on preventing visa program abuse and take every available legal action against those who abuse these programs.”

Indeed, employers around the country rely on loopholes and oversights in temporary (nonimmigrant) employment visa programs hire foreign workers in place of native workers. Foreign labor is more attractive to companies because these workers are generally more willing to accept lower pay and benefits than their American counterparts, saving companies tens of thousands of dollars per year per employee hired.

Additionally, workers that are in the United States on an employment visa are significantly less likely to take advantage of legal labor protections or file complaints against employers that do not deliver the fullest extent of their obligations under law. Despite Congress’s intention to only make these visas available on a need basis and for market wages, employers frequently take advantage of loopholes to avoid hiring Americans and pay foreign workers less.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) praised the Department of Labor’s efforts to increase protections to American workers by addressing visa fraud. “Secretary Acosta is taking a serious first step to address the rampant problem of visa fraud and its harmful effects on American workers.  I am glad the Secretary has taken some of my suggestions to heart, and is taking steps to root out criminal fraud. The wellbeing of hard-working Americans is at stake, and the Secretary’s continued work in this area with the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security is absolutely critical.”

The Department of Labor also communicated that it will continue to work with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to enforce immigration law and confront abuse of various visa programs.