Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions Introduce American Workers Protection Legislation

American workers APRichard Drew
AP/Richard Drew

In the wake of recent abuses of the H-1B visa system, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) have introduced legislation aimed at protecting American workers from being replaced by foreign workers.

“This legislation aligns the program with its original intent, does more to prevent employers from using the program to replace hard-working American men and women with cheaper foreign labor, and helps to create greater transparency of job needs and opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, so that unemployed Americans with the necessary skills can apply for these jobs,” Cruz, a Republican presidential candidate said Thursday.

Titled the “American Jobs First Act of 2015” (S. 2394), the pair’s bill would require a “layoff cool-off” period of 730 days from either employer layoffs, employee strikes, or furloughs to hire H-1B visa holders and impose requirements on employers to increase transparency in the employment process. Additionally the bill would require employers seeking H-1B visas to pay the foreign workers they recruit either the same amount as an American worker who did similar work or $110,000, which ever is higher.

Cruz and Sessions’ legislation also addresses the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program — which allows foreign students to work in their area of study often at a lower cost to the employer than an American worker — by ending its use and preventing the establishment of similar programs displacing American workers.

“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 added.

According to the Alabama lawmaker, the bill he and Cruz introduced will protect Americans from discrimination for lower cost labor and move H-1B programs on a more positive track.

“The H-1B program is nowhere close to the program it is said to be,” Sessions said. “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.”