As the so-called H-1B guest worker program is highlighted at the GOP debate, the agency’s own practices come under the spotlight.
Republican candidates blasted the so-called H-1B guest worker program at their debate on Thursday, with Donald Trump calling it “very bad for our workers” even as he admitted to using such foreign employees. “We should end it,” he said.
But the H-1B program is so embedded into the U.S. economy that even the Labor Department — an agency whose mission is to promote the welfare of American workers — has at least three foreign guest workers doing information technology work at its Washington headquarters, POLITICO has learned. And the agency has approved applications for several more, as have other arms of the federal government.
The Labor Department’s role in bringing H-1B workers into its headquarters is a bit murky. The department’s Employment and Training Administration last year approved visa renewal applications from at least five firms — Cybecys, Knowcean Consulting, Comprobase Inc.,Data Aixsys Inc. and HCL Global Systems Inc. — for IT work at the Perkins Building, according to publicly available records. Not all of those approvals necessarily resulted in the placement of H-1B workers there. But Cybecys confirmed to POLITICO that it had at least three H-1B guest workers installed at the agency. “Yes, they’re H-1B,” Cybecys President Harish Vajja said. “We go through a preferred vendor that won the contract. They’re being used for mainly software development.”
The other companies that filed H-1B visa renewal applications for Labor Department workers did not respond to email and phone requests for comment, and the Labor Department declined to confirm the presence of any H-1B workers. It’s not certain the department was aware of their presence before POLITICO inquired about it.
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