In a ruling that could short-circuit one of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, a federal court has allowed U.S. tech workers to challenge extensions of foreign laborers’ status here.
The case of Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has “major implications” for the president’s ability to expand the number of work visas and the terms or durations of those visas, said Dale Wilcox, executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute.
The lawsuit was brought by attorney John Miano and the Immigration Reform Law Institute on behalf of several displaced American workers.
“The Obama administration and its congressional allies have stated repeatedly that they believed the president’s executive memos were immune from judicial review in federal court,” Wilcox said.
The decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia “demonstrates that this is not true,” Wilcox stated.
Through a host of foreign-worker visa programs, the federal government “swells the number of foreign nationals in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) labor market where Washington Alliance members must compete. Indeed, (they were) designed with this purpose in mind,” the lawsuit alleges.
One of the foreign tech-worker gateways — Optional Practical Training — “is likely now to be America’s largest guest-worker program. Yet, it has never been authorized by Congress,” Miano said.
Gene Nelson, a longtime activist for U.S. tech workers’ rights, estimates that downward wage pressures by OPT extensions already cost American STEM employees $175.5 billion in lost earnings.
Nelson said the tech-visa programs “have morphed into de-facto government-sanctioned foreign hiring preferences.”