Trump Administration Claims Facebook Improperly Reserved Jobs for H-1 Billion Workers -- 2nd Update
By Deepa Seetharaman, Sadie Gurman and Michelle Hackman
The Trump administration has sued Facebook Inc., accusing the
social-media company of illegally reserving high-paying jobs for
immigrant workers it was sponsoring for permanent residence, rather
than searching adequately for available U.S. workers who could fill
In a 17-page complaint filed Thursday, the Justice Department's
civil-rights division said Facebook inadequately advertised at
least 2,600 positions between 2018 and 2019 that were filled by
immigrants on H-1B high-skill visas when the company was applying
to sponsor those workers for permanent residency, known as green
Companies sponsoring workers for employment-based green cards
are required to show as part of the federal application process
that they couldn't find any qualified American workers to fill the
The suit said Facebook didn't advertise the reserved positions
on its website and required candidates to mail in their
applications rather than accepting them online.
"And even when U.S. workers do apply, Facebook will not consider
them for the advertised positions," the suit alleges. "Simply put,
Facebook reserves these positions for temporary visa holders."
"Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of
this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint,
we cannot comment further on pending litigation," a company
The lawsuit reflects long-running tensions between Silicon
Valley and the Trump administration over the use of foreign workers
in key technology roles.
The Trump administration has viewed the H-1B visa program for
foreign professionals -- the primary pathway international
graduates of U.S. colleges remain in the U.S. -- with antagonism,
believing that employers are displacing American workers with
foreign staffers who demand smaller salaries. Administration
officials point to several high-profile incidents in which
companies have laid off their in-house information technology
staff, opting instead to hire contractors who employ H-1B visa
workers primarily from India.
Silicon Valley companies and trade groups have succeeded at
striking down recent immigration policies in the courts such as the
temporary ban on H-1B visas, restrictions on international students
and an Obama administration program called Deferred Action for
Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that protects immigrants living in the
U.S. since childhood without legal permission.
Tech companies like Facebook rely on H-1B visas to plug gaps in
their technical workforce, which they say is essential to building
the software that powers products like the Facebook news feed. Tech
executives have repeatedly said there aren't enough American
students graduating with science and engineering degrees to meet
their demand, a problem they say is only worsening as companies'
products grow more complex and reliant on advanced technology like
The U.S. unemployment rate for people in computer professions
was 3% in October, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor
Statistics data by the National Foundation for American Policy. The
national unemployment rate that month was 6.9%.
Justice Department officials said their investigation kicked off
when Facebook filed an application with the Labor Department to
hire a foreign worker as an art director, a role that requires a
bachelor's degree and two years of experience. The officials said
Facebook should have been able to find an American to fill this
type of job. Other positions included a number of software jobs as
well as nontechnical positions.
U.S. immigration laws set strict requirements for companies
looking to apply for green cards on behalf of their employees. They
must advertise the job with a state workforce agency as well as in
the Sunday edition of a newspaper, among several other
requirements. Companies aren't specifically required to post a job
opening on their websites.
If a qualified American worker comes forward, the company is
required to interview that person, and the green-card application
process can't move forward.
"This is a new tactic under the guise of protecting American
workers," said Jesse Bless, a former Justice Department official
who is now director of federal litigation at the American
Immigration Lawyers Association. Normally the government would seek
to work or settle with a company before suing them, he said. "It
tells me that, since they took this route, they are trying to set
Write to Deepa Seetharaman at Deepa.Seetharaman@wsj.com, Sadie
Gurman at email@example.com and Michelle Hackman at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 03, 2020 15:58 ET (20:58 GMT)
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