chuck-grassley-committee-room(Washington, DC) Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is raising questions about a new policy memorandum issued by the Obama administration that may, according to the President, allow for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers being admitted to the United States, which could result in the displacement of U.S. workers.

In a letter to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez, Grassley wrote, “I fear – especially in light of the remarks made by the President in March – the effect that this L-1B memo will have on American workers, particularly in the IT sector, who are already battered by mass layoffs, job offshoring, and depressed wages.”

Grassley’s letter cites an administration memo that purports to reform the L-1B nonimmigrant visa category which is specifically designed for the admission to the United States of temporary intracompany transferees with “specialized knowledge.”  The L-1B visa program was never intended to be a high-volume temporary foreign worker program.

In addition, as a policy memorandum, and not a regulation, there is neither an opportunity for the submission of public comments to which the administration must respond, nor a requirement that the administration perform an economic impact assessment.

Grassley has previously written about concerns regarding the L-1B program, including an unclear number of L-1 visa holders actually in the United States, a broad definition of “specialized knowledge,” a disconnect between the Departments of Homeland Security and State on blanket petitions, and the alleged use of L-1 visas to circumvent requirements of H-1B visas.  Grassley has serious doubts that the Obama administration’s memo will address the real problems and loopholes within the program.

See the signed copy of Grassley’s letter here.

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