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Microsoft, Rubio, Sessions and the H-1B ground war

Patrick Thibodeau | July 14, 2015
Microsoft's argument that the U.S. faces a shortage of people with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills isn't helped by the 7,800 layoffs it announced last week.

Microsoft is lobbying for the I-Squared bill, which doesn't have any visible momentum in Congress. But Sessions isn't going to miss an opportunity to criticize it. There are persistent concerns that its supporters, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who serves in a top Senate leadership post, could find a backdoor way to move the measure forward.

Although there has been much anger over the displacement of U.S. workers at Disney, Southern California Edison and other employers, the use of temporary visa holders as a means to displace U.S. workers is something that's occurred for years. H-1B critics say the practice is allowed by law.

"It is ironic that we have Congress calling for investigations of activities they made legal in the first place," said John Miano, the founder of the Programmer's Guild and an attorney who has challenged the White House in court on H-1B-related issues.

It's not known yet what will result from the various H-1B investigations triggered by the Senate. Of particular interest, however, is what the Department of Justice will do.

Multiple sources indicate that the Justice Department's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices is the office examining whether U.S. workers were discriminated against. Whether the office is conducting an investigation of any depth is not known. Justice officials did not respond to request for comment.

The idea that replacing U.S. workers with foreign workers on temporary visas constitutes an act of discrimination was initially raised in April. That question came in a letter championed by Sessions and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who asked whether displacement amounts to "prohibited citizenship status discrimination."


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