President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Labor, Alexander Acosta, said during a congressional hearing that he believed it is “not the intent” to replace American employees with cheaper, foreign ones under the H-1B visa program.
During a Senate hearing, Acosta said he did not believe the H-1B visa was intended to be used by big businesses to replace American personnel.
“Some Americans have seen jobs go overseas. Some Americans have seen jobs filled by foreign workers,” Acosta said, according to the Times of India. “Indeed, I’ve read reports that some Americans have been asked to train their foreign replacements.”
“And some Americans see that jobs are available, but these available jobs require skills that they do not have,” Acosta continued.
“Particularly, when, in those circumstances that I highlighted where Americans are being asked to train their foreign replacements,” Acosta said. “That is not the intent of the H-1B.”
Acosta did seem to be unaware of the massive problem that the H-1B visa has caused for American labor, particularly tech and former Disney employees who were forced to train their replacements before being fired.
“So one question that I would have is, how often is that happening,” Acosta asked. “Is that something that we should be looking at with greater degree of care? I think we also need to work with, public-private partnerships. I know that there is a lot of discussion about an infrastructure program. An infrastructure program will certainly bring back a lot of jobs.”
Director of the Center for Immigration Studies Mark Krikorian said he found it astonishing that Acosta did not seem to know of the H-1B visa’s impact on American labor.
“How could he not be aware of it? It’s all over the news,” Krikorian told Breitbart Texas. “Trump brought it up.”
“This is one of the high-profile labor issues,” Krikorian said. “Him saying that is kind of like saying he’s unfamiliar with the $15 minimum wage.”
Krikorian said Acosta’s comments on H-1B did not surprise him, telling Breitbart Texas “that’s what all the politicians who created the problem say, too.”
Acosta has been criticized in the past, as Breitbart News reported, for supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants and continued inflows of cheaper, foreign workers instead of big businesses hiring American workers.
In 2012, during a campaign event for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Acosta demanded that illegal immigrants be given a “pathway to legal immigration,” saying they were needed in the U.S. to fill jobs in the construction and agricultural sectors.
“Puzder does seem to be worse,” Krikorian said. “He was doing stuff to replace Americans with foreigners.”
While Congress must ultimately be the ones to lower the cap of the some 85,000 H-1B visas that are allotted to foreign workers every year, Krikorian said there are steps that the Trump Administration can take to reform the program.
For instance, Trump could demand that H-1B visas are allotted based on the highest salaries offered by companies looking for foreign help.
There does not appear to be any reforms this year for the H-1B visa.
As Breitbart Texas reported, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has said that reforming the H-1B is not an immediate priority for the Trump Administration.
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.