By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Thursday, April 9, US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) joined US Senator Richard Durbin in requesting an investigation of recent labor practices at Southern California Edison, California’s largest utility company.
Sen. Sessions is arguably the most conservative member of the American Senate. US Senator Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (I-Vermont) is arguably the most liberal. Yet the two both signed the same letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, asking them to investigate Southern California Edison’s use of the H-1B guest worker program to allegedly replace American workers.
Sen. Sessions is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest. He and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) led a bipartisan group of Senators in sending the letter asking for there to be an investigation.
Senator Sessions wrote in a statement afterwards, “Southern California Edison ought to be the tipping point that finally compels Washington to take needed actions to protect American workers. As Professor Ron Hira testified, the H-1B visa has become ‘a highly lucrative business model of bringing in cheaper H-1B workers to substitute for Americans…Most of the H-1B program is now being used to import cheaper foreign guest workers, replacing American workers, and undercutting their wages.’ The US is graduating twice as many STEM students each year as find jobs in those fields, yet the H-1B program continues to provide IT companies with a large annual supply of lower-wage guest workers to hire in place of more qualified Americans. There is no ‘shortage’ of talented Americans, only a shortage of officials willing to protect them.”
The Senators’ wrote: “We are concerned about recent information that has come to light regarding the abuse of the H-1B visa program by Southern California Edison (SCE) and other employers to replace large numbers of American workers. We urge you to investigate this matter.”
The letter continued, “A number of US employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have reportedly laid off thousands of American workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. To add insult to injury, many of the replaced American employees report that they have been forced to train the foreign workers who are taking their jobs. This troubling practice seems to be particularly concentrated in the information technology (IT) sector, which is not surprising given that sixty five percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2014 were for workers in computer-related occupations. Though such reports of H-1B-driven layoffs have been circulating for years, their frequency seems to have increased dramatically in the past year alone.”
The Senator claim that in many cases the H-1B workers are not employees of the US company laying off American workers, but instead are contractors employed by foreign-owned IT consulting companies.
The Senator suggest that such companies are discriminating against American citizens because of their citizenship status, which is illegal. The Senators also suggest that many of these H-1B applications are perhaps fraudulent.
The Senators continued, “We respectfully request that you investigate the unacceptable replacement of American workers by H-1B workers to ascertain whether SCE or any other US companies that have engaged in this practice, or the IT consulting companies supplying those companies with H-1B workers, have violated the law. Additionally, please notify us of any obstacles in existing law to conducting such an investigation.”
The letter is signed by Senators Richard J. Durbin, Jeff Sessions, Richard Blumenthal, Charles E. Grassley, Sherrod Brown, David Vitter, Claire McCaskill, Bill Cassidy, Bernard Sanders, and James M. Inhofe.
From August to January Southern California Edison (SCE) allegedly laid off 400 of its tech workers and replaced them with foreign guest workers on H-1B visas, provided by an outsourcing company….Infosys. In 2013, Infosys paid $34 million to settle charges from the federal government that they were conducting, “systemic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes.” Infosys is the second largest user of H-1B visas in the country.
US Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions serves on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Budget, Environment and Public Works, and Judiciary, where he is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest.
(Original reporting by Fox News and the ‘Los Angeles Times’ contributed to this report)