Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL) together are promoting new legislation to reform the H-1B visa program, after scores of abuses by companies including Disney, Southern California Edison and more.
The bill, the American Jobs First Act of 2015, is essentially an antidote to the woes of the H-1B program. The bill, which represents a crackdown on immigration program abuses by special interests, has several components.
First, it requires companies that use H-1B workers to pay such visa holders “either what an American worker who did identical or similar work made two years prior to the recruiting effort, or $110,000,” whichever is higher. What that does is it takes the incentive to pay foreigners less than Americans away from corporations, thereby ending the ability for the program to be abused in that regard.
Second, the bill requires that within 730 days—two years—of “an employee strike, an employer lockout, layoffs, furloughs, or other types of involuntary employee terminations other than for-cause dismissals,” a company cannot bring aboard any H-1B labor. That means it wouldn’t be able to replace Americans with foreigners. The bill also has more transparency requirements throughout.
Cruz, in an appearance on Breitbart News Daily with Stephen K. Bannon on SiriusXM 125 the Patriot Channel on Friday morning, laid out the importance of the bill.
“Jeff Sessions and I together we launched a major reform bill on the H-1B visa program. As you know, the H-1B visa program was designed to bring in high-skilled workers,” Cruz said.
I have long been a supporter of bringing in high-skilled workers because I think that benefits economic growth. But unfortunately what we’ve seen in recent months is report after report after report of large companies abusing the program and bringing in workers who are not high-skilled, who tend to be mid-level or even low-level IT workers and bringing them and then laying off American workers—and to add insult to injury, forcing the American workers to train their foreign replacements before they leave.
That is not only directly contrary to what the program was meant to do, it is an absolute abuse and is unacceptable. And so Jeff Sessions and I together have assembled reform legislation to fix the H-1B program to require among other things that anyone coming in on an H-1B visa have an advanced degree, to require certification from university and academic standards, to prohibit companies if you’re bringing in H-1B visas from laying off workers—you can’t do both—and to ensure that they cannot be paying foreign workers materially less than they are paying U.S. workers.
We designed this together really to work in concert with what I have announced which is if I’m elected president I intend to impose a moratorium on the H-1B program and audit every company that has received this visas to determine whether they’re abusing the program. And if they’re abusing the program, they will be suspended from the program—and if they’ve violated the law, they will be prosecuted.
Cruz, as he mentioned here in this interview, has rolled out a plan for a moratorium on H-1B visas he’ll implement if elected president. He’s walked through that plan on his website, and in multiple interviews since he introduced it—and it represents one of if not the strongest plans in the entire 2016 GOP field on this issue.
What’s most interesting, perhaps, is that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)—Cruz’s 2016 GOP presidential rival—has a diametrically opposite view on H-1B visas. Rubio’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) would have massively increased H-1B visas, as would legislation Rubio is currently pushing in this Congress—the I-Squared bill.
In fact, the contrast is so clear that even Sessions noted the significant differences between this Cruz-Sessions legislation and the Rubio-backed I-Squared bill that would hurt American workers in his statement accompanying the release of this new legislation.
“The mass layoff of American workers at Disney, Southern California Edison, and many other companies – who were then forced to train their foreign replacements – underscores that our political system has failed in its duty to protect our own people,” Sessions said.
I applaud Senator Cruz for his leadership on this legislation, which would protect American workers from discrimination by barring companies from laying them off and replacing them in order to lower their labor costs. The H-1B program is nowhere close to the program it is said to be. Far from filling “labor shortages,” it is being used to destroy existing jobs of American workers.
This legislation would improve wage standards for the H-1B visa, block its use as a cheap labor program, and scrap the terribly abused foreign worker “training program” which has become a backdoor method for replacing American workers. It would also eliminate the diversity lottery, which has become yet one more avenue for low-wage labor. In every sense, this bill is the exact opposite of the I-squared proposal which was written by and for industry interests, and which would further drive down wages for American workers. I hope the Senate and House will take up and pass the “American Jobs First Act,” and send the message that real immigration reform answers to the American people, not the special interests.