DOJ Prosecutes First Case Under Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” Order
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice will file a lawsuit against Crop Production Services Inc for allegedly violating the Immigration and Nationality Act, thereby enforcing the spirit of President Trump’s Buy American, Hire American executive order.
This will be the first prosecution under the order, and represents meaningful progress in the fight against corporate discrimination of American workers in favor of (cheaper) immigrant labor.
Sessions said of the decision to prosecute:
In the spirit of President Trump’s Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American, the Department of Justice will not tolerate employers who discriminate against U.S. workers because of a desire to hire temporary foreign visa holders,
The Justice Department will enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act in order to protect U.S. workers as they are the very backbone of our communities and our economy. Where there is a job available, U.S. workers should have a chance at it before we bring in workers from abroad.
The specifics of the case are an all-too familiar story for many of America’s discouraged workers.
The DOJ alleges that in 2016 the company discriminated against three US citizens by refusing to employ them as seasonal technicians in El Campo, Texas. Instead, the company hired temporary foreign workers (at a discounted rate) under the H-2A visa program.
The company allegedly did this by imposing more stringent requirements on American workers than it did on foreign workers. For example, US citizens had to complete a background check and drug test—H-2A visa workers were not required to complete these before starting work, and some never completed them.
Likewise, the company allegedly turned away a US citizen for poor English skills, and yet a number of the foreign workers hired were completely illiterate.
In the end, all 15 of the seasonal jobs went to temporary foreign workers under the H-2A visa program, rather than to the Americans who applied.
Employment Discrimination Against US Citizens All-Too Common
Although this prosecution sends an important signal, it is important not to lose sight of the scale of the problem—employment discrimination based on US citizenship is rampant in the labor market.
In fact, whole towns often rely on the influx of foreign workers to meet their seasonable labor demands—despite the fact that there are Americans ready-and-willing to work said jobs.
This was the case in a number of towns in Maine, who preferred to hire temporary foreign workers because they are cheaper, and employers have more leverage over them (they can force them to work longer hours in poorer conditions). Of course, the economic ramifications of this are obvious: wages are lower, working conditions poorer etc.
And it’s not just private employers who are to blame: the government actively discriminates against US workers too. For example, through the Summer Work Travel Program (SWT) the government helps find summer employment for 100,000 foreign college students annually (for a small fee), but does not do the same for American citizen students.
To make hiring foreigners extra attractive, the program provides employers a multitude of benefits. For example, employers participating in the program (i) pay no Social Security tax, (ii) no Medicare tax, (iii) require no health insurance, (iv) are not bound by standard wage agreements (employers get cheap labor), (v) and employers have greater leverage over foreign students than locals.
In the end, employers and foreigners benefit, American students pay the price.
Hopefully the DOJ begins prosecuting the federal government, as well as the multitude of large corporations (particularly in Silicon Valley) who favor foreign labor over American.