DOJ’s Campaign to Protect U.S. Workers is a Mixed Bag

A Department of Justice (DOJ) program is cracking down on companies that hire foreign nationals and discriminate against American workers. Evidence suggests there is much work to be done.

Launched in 2017, the “Protecting U.S. Worker Initiative” has snared 10 companies on civil rights violations, collecting a modest $1.2 million in penalties and back pay for affected Americans. A few of the bad actors:

  • In California, AllianceIT, a technology staffing company, blocked U.S. applicants by posting a job advertisement soliciting “ONLY OPTs.” The Optional Practical Training program permits foreign students holding F-1 visas to engage in temporary employment.
  • In Maryland, another tech staffer, ASTA, posted job advertisements aimed exclusively at non-U.S. citizens with temporary visas, including H-1B and F-1 visas.
  • In Texas, El Expreso Bus Co. illegally denied employment to qualified and available U.S. workers because it preferred hiring foreign drivers with H-2B visas. 

DOJ also went after companies to protect non-U.S. citizens authorized to work in this country:

  • In North Carolina, Honda Aircraft Co., a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., was penalized for refusing to hire work-authorized foreign nationals because of their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision.
  • In New York, MJFT Hotels, a management company operating a Hyatt Place Hotel, was sanctioned for removing an asylee from the hiring process. Asylees have permanent work authorization under INA.
  • In Illinois, a human resources employee at Sinai Health System Inc. “routinely required newly hired non-U.S. citizen employees to provide specific documentation issued by the Department of Homeland Security to prove employment eligibility.” DOJ said this violated INA rules that “prohibit employers from subjecting employees to unnecessary documentary demands based on citizenship status or national origin.”

While DOJ pursues these civil rights cases, the Center for Immigration Studies reports that the July unemployment rate for native-born Americans (ages 16 and over) was 10.1 percent, more than double pre-COVID-19 levels.

“It remains extremely difficult to justify the continued entry of new immigrants on the grounds of any ‘labor shortage,’” CIS concluded.

In light of high levels of joblessness, here’s hoping DOJ looks into recent allegations that a South Korean company illegally hired workers from its home country to build a large, publicly subsidized battery plant in Georgia.

Noting that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had intercepted 33 Korean nationals holding fraudulent documents at the Atlanta airport, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said the group appeared to be “part of a larger scheme to illegally bring [in]foreign workers.”

Prosecuting such cases to the fullest extent of the law would be the very definition of “Protecting U.S. Workers.”

About Author