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Immigration, Labor Laws a Catch-22 for Foreign Workers

Patrick Thibodeau of ComputerWorld reports that one result of the administration’s crackdown on employers using H-1B (non-immigrant skilled worker) visas is that one company, Peri Software Solutions, may be required to pay $1.45 million in back wages to 163 employees. Peri reportedly failed to pay workers prevailing wages — one requirement of the H-1B program is that employers pay foreign workers more or less what they would American workers, if they could find any — as well as forcing them to sign employment contracts that they were sued for violating.

Unlike American workers, however, the foreign workers at Peri might get their back wages, right after they’re sent home.

The Labor Department is also seeking to hit Peri with a $439,000 civil penalty and a two-year debarment from the H-1B program.

Unless Peri’s workers are able to find other H-1B jobs before being asked to leave the United States, punishing Peri for paying its workers less-than-prevailing wages will mean that their workers will lose their jobs and be sent back to their countries of origin.

The Catch-22 of immigration law — report the person who got you into the country, and get sent home for the privilege — is something many immigrants and foreign workers face on a regular basis. Without significant reform, for which Congress likely doesn’t have the stomach this year, the administration’s crackdown on employer violations of labor law will necessarily result in job losses for the people already hurt by the labor law violations.

(h/t @Elana_Brooklyn for the link)

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