A representative for legal immigrants in the U.S. grilled the Department of Homeland Security for holding an immigration ombudsman event without representing the interests of displaced American workers or of legal immigrants already in the states.
“All that you talked about, every subject matter was how to get more people from outside,” Aman Kapoor, president of Immigration Voice, told the panel of DHS representatives during a filmed Q&A session. “When are you going to talk about the rights of people who are already here?”
The session was part of an annual event held recently by the CIS Ombudsman’s office, ostensibly so government representatives and stakeholders could get together and work to improve immigration services.
According to Kapoor, the only “stakeholders” present were those who stand to profit from the exploitation of imported guest workers, and they spent the bulk of their time that day discussing how to bring in more. (RELATED: Rubio’s H-1B Bill Doesn’t Include Worker Protections He Says He Supports)
“Is there anybody here who represents American workers — any organization?” Kapoor asks in the video, getting just one affirmative response from someone in the crowded room. He represents about 100,000 workers in the U.S. legally who are waiting for green cards.
“I didn’t hear a word about displacement,” he adds. “I didn’t hear a word about rights. Immigrant rights. I didn’t hear a word about exploitation and abuses of immigrants when they come over here, and they are waiting in decades long back-log.”
Foreigners who come to the U.S. on temporary work visas such as the H-1B cannot legally remain in the country if they are fired or if they switch employers. And they’re likely to accept less pay than a comparable American worker. Many put up with this treatment for years as they wait for their green card application to go through.
Their near-infinite patience makes them an easy target for U.S. businesses looking to cut costs, and gives them a sizeable competitive advantage over American workers that can result in their displacement. That’s a win-win for U.S. businesses, which are incentivized to lobby for a longer green card approval process.
“Eight years they are working for the same employer,” Kapoor tells the panel. “Even Saudi Arabia doesn’t have this requirement,” he continued, drawing laughter from the room.
“This is not a laughing matter,” he says.
One of the panelists interjects: “I appreciate your comments. They’re very apropos and we understand the frustration that’s there.”
“No, I don’t think you understand,” Kapoor responds. “Because then you invite people — If you look around this room everybody is a lawyer or somebody who profits from this business of getting more people from outside.”
Businesses including Disney, Southern California Edison and Catalina Marketing have brought in hundreds of guest workers on H-1B visas to replace laid off American workers, allegedly to cut costs. DHS is working with the Department of Labor to investigate some of these abuses. (RELATED: HP Dumps 30,000 Workers While Demanding More H-1Bs)
A spokeswoman for the CIS Ombudsman’s office told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement the Ombudsman “interacts with a wide range of stakeholders interested in its mission, which is to assist individuals and employers with problems they are having with USCIS,” and said the Ombudsman conducted 100 engagements in the past year.
“The Annual Conference offers a forum for robust and open dialogue between government and stakeholders to share a variety of viewpoints, including those expressed by Mr. Kapoor (who has presented on a panel at our conference in the past),” the spokeswoman added.