CONGRESSWOMAN SHEILA JACKSON LEE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION AND CLAIMS
OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE
STATUS OF REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING THE
AMERICAN COMPETITIVENESS AND
WORKFORCE IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 1998 (ACWIA)
MAY 24, 2000
Thank-you Mr. Chairman. As H-1B legislation moves to the House Floor in the upcoming weeks, it is important to examine why the Department of Labor has not yet promulgated regulations included in the 1998 H-1B legislation- aimed at protecting U.S. workers from being replaced by foreign workers.
Section 412 of the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act sets forth the new attestation protections for the jobs of American workers. A displacement protection provision requires the employer seeking a visa for an H-1B worker to attest that he has not laid off an American worker from a job that is essentially the equivalent of the job for which the H-1B alien is sought during the period beginning 90 days before and ending 90 days after filing the visa petition for the alien. The recruitment provision requires the employer to attest that he has taken good faith steps to recruit an American worker for the job the H-1B alien will perform using industry-wide recruitment standards.
However, these attestation provisions require implementing regulations. The Department of Labor is the agency responsible for promulgating the regulations to implement the new employer attestation requirements. On January 5, 1999, DOL published a proposed rule to implement this Act. Apparently, 92 comments were received, many of which were extremely detailed. Although eighteen months have passed since enactment of the bill, final regulations have never been issued. I understand that this is a result of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), not giving clearance. I hope that this hearing really sheds light on the status of those regulations.
I am also glad that several representatives are here from the Coalition for Fair Employment in Silicon Valley. It was with their help that in my H-1B bill, I added attestations that required employers to make steps to recruit qualified American workers who are members of under represented minority groups, and advertise job openings to older and disabled Americans.
It is with these regulations that we avoid cases like that of Lindsay Brown. Mr. Brown had been employed as a high-tech employee for over 20 years. After his company 3Com dismissed him, and hired a foreign worker in his place, it really proves that the absence of regulations plays a large role in inhibiting enforcement.
The American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act
only raised the H-1B limits for three years, 1999, 2000, and 2001. More than half of that time has passed, and American workers still
do not have the protections that were included in the bill that raised the limits. This is unacceptable. The Congress needs to find out why the Department of Labor has not promulgated the implementing regulations and make sure that the problem is resolved. We owe this to our American workers.
I yield back the balance of my time.