Suit Over Guest-Worker Spouse Permits Tossed

     (CN) — Tech workers challenging a Department of Homeland Security rule allowing the spouses of guest workers to apply for employment did not prove the spouses would compete with them in job hunts, a federal judge found, tossing the suit.
     Save Jobs USA, a group of former Southern California Edison computer workers replaced by foreign workers with H-1B guest-worker visas, sued Homeland Security in April 2015 to stop the rule from taking effect.
     The lawsuit, filed in D.C. federal court, challenged the agency’s “Employment Authorization for Certain H-4 Dependent Spouses,” which allows the spouses of H-1B visa holders to work. Save Jobs claimed the rule would further competition for workers in the tech field, who already struggle to gain employment in the face of foreign workers.
     U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan declined to stop the policy in May 2015, finding that Save Jobs failed to show its members would suffer harm with the rule’s implementation.
     “There is no indication, and Save Jobs has not provided any evidence, that it is certain that H-4 visa holders will apply for IT jobs and compete with Save Jobs members,” Chutkan wrote. “Save Jobs is correct that this could happen, and eventually it may in fact happen. But at this stage, it is entirely speculative whether any H-4 visa holders will ever apply for IT jobs at SCE, IT jobs in California (where the members of Save Jobs reside), or IT jobs at all.”
     Chutkan found the same in her Sept. 27 decision to dismiss the suit.
     “Here, there is simply no evidence that the H-4 Rule was targeted at the tech field, or that even one H-4 visa holder has sought or will seek a tech job in competition with plaintiff’s members,” Chutkan wrote. “Plaintiff’s argument, without evidence, is bare speculation, and the injury it contemplates is insufficient to establish standing.”
     Chutkan acknowledged that H-4 visa holders may indeed compete with members of Save Jobs for employment in the tech field, but ultimately found there was no evidence to prove the group’s claims.
     “While plaintiff’s members allege past injury from being replaced by H-1B visa holders at their previous employment, the source of that injury is unrelated to the H-4 Rule,” Chutkan wrote. “And, if in future years the H-1B program is again oversubscribed, plaintiff offers no evidence that this will be due to the H-4 Rule, nor why the court should consider this an injury at all given that Congress sets the quotas for the visa program, not DHS.”
     The group’s claims that the rule exceeded Homeland Security’s authority also failed, Chutkan found.
     “[I]n light of the broad delegation of authority Congress conferred to DHS to set rules regarding employment authorization and its thorough consideration of the relevant factors in its decision-making, the court would likely conclude that DHS’s interpretation of its authority under the [Immigration and Naturalization Act] is not unreasonable, and the H-4 Rule is a valid exercise of this rulemaking authority,” Chutkan said.
     The Immigration Reform Law Institute represents Save Jobs, and did not respond to an email requesting comment by press time.

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