Nepotism Reigns in Labor Department Appellate Body

By David North, July 4, 2016

Tired of waiting for those family preferences in the immigration system?

Is your brother willing to work in the kitchen of the family's restaurant business?

If the answers are both yes, just ask the Department of Labor to issue a decision leading to a green card for that relative, and his immigration problems are solved — and another resident of this country is denied a job.

As an alumnus of that department, I noticed that the journeyman decision-maker (the certification officer who first handled the case described above) did the right thing by denying the application. He or she (they are nameless) ruled that the alien brother was hired because he was a relative and that the job was not open, as it is supposed to be, to "any American worker".

The (nameless) husband and wife, who run Palm Café Restaurant in a (nameless) city appealed to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA); the three-member board became convinced that this job was open to anyone, that no one else was available, and so the alien should be hired and granted a green card.

Once the head cook — note that he is not even given the status of a chef — tires of his relatives he is free to leave that job and work for someone else, while applying to DHS for permission to bring in his wife, if he has one, and their kids, if they have any, as immediate relatives.

BALCA frequently over-rules the certification officers in the Labor Department and these rulings are often reported in Interpreter Releases, the immigration bar's trade paper. I saw a report on this decision in the June 13 edition, which is not on-line.

Although BALCA is not forthcoming on some matters — such as the names of the husband and wife who were the relatives and the employers — it does not quite have the privacy zeal of the Department of Homeland Security's administrative appeals entity, the Office of Administrative Appeals (AAO) which we have commented on in the past.

BALCA did let us know the names of the relative/head cook (Reyes Alvarado Vasquez), of the winning lawyer (Roger J. Gleckman of Los Angeles), and the last names of the three Administrative Law Judges (Markley, Johnson, and Bergstrom). AAO apparently regards such disclosures as shocking.

For a different evaluation of the substance of the decision see here.