Making the Government Put the American Worker First
WASHINGTON - The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) today argued its appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the case of Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
IRLI is challenging a DHS program called Optional Practical Training (OPT), which unlawfully permits non-student aliens to remain and work in the United States on student visas after graduation. IRLI represents the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Local 37083 of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO (Washtech), a labor union that represents American technology workers located throughout the U.S. and whose members are forced to compete for jobs with foreign labor.
A three-judge panel heard Washtech’s claims that DHS has unlawfully claimed equal authority with Congress to define classes of aliens that may be allowed to enter, remain and work in the United States. Such a move has major implications for the nation's immigration system. DHS argued that the plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, as the District Court had held when it dismissed the case, though the panel seemed skeptical of DHS’s argument. The two sides now await a decision from the panel.
“We are hopeful the dismissal will be reversed,” said Dale L. Wilcox, IRLI's executive director and general counsel. “It was encouraging that the judges showed an understanding that OPT gives student visas to people who are not students. DHS has overstepped its authority on this matter, and its OPT policy has put Washtech members at a severe disadvantage in an already competitive marketplace.”
In 2015 IRLI was successful in challenging a 2008 OPT program extension for STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) alien graduates as violating the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). In 2016, the Obama administration reissued the rule which IRLI has challenged again in this case.
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