A Feature of Alien Worker Programs: You Can Discriminate as Much as You Like

By David North on December 14, 2022

If you are a bigoted employer and you want to hire nothing but, say, white males, you would soon be in trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, assuming the hiring was going on within the U.S.

But if the hiring is happening outside the U.S. for jobs in the States, you can be as discriminatory as you want to be. The U.S. government not only will not object, it will (if the paperwork is right) issue you the documents for hiring exactly the shade of workers you want.

No wonder some employers love foreign worker programs!

We have been reminded of this three times in recent weeks by three totally unconnected events in which employers have made decisions in favor of Indian nationals in one case, against Haitians in another, and for whites in a third. The three foreign worker programs were H-1B in the first, H-2B (non-skilled, non-ag workers) in the second, and H-2A ag workers in the third. In the first case, the bias was in favor of workers of color; in the others it was against workers of color.

The first case is a class action in the federal courts in New Jersey accusing Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., the huge Indian-owned labor broker, of favoring South Asian workers in its hiring practices. Tata is an employer that rents large numbers of H-1B workers to many high-tech firms.

Bloomberg reports that:

[Tata] relies heavily on the U.S. visa system when it comes to staffing projects for its clients by securing H-1B and L-1 visas for South Asian and Indian employees outside the United States creating an inventory of “visa ready” workers.

The company annually “seeks to maximize the number of visas it receives from the federal government by applying for more positions than actually exist in the U.S.” the suit says.


Tata “was consistently one of the top three H-1B recipients each year ... from 2013 to 2019.”

My sense is that the Indian body shops’ worker preferences are much more precise in their biases than simply being for “South Asian” workers; such firms prefer young, male, South Indian workers, preferably from the appropriate Hindu castes.

The second case is an update on Haitians and the H-2B program. We reported earlier that H-2B employers were given special access to additional foreign workers provided that they were from either the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) or from Haiti, and that the employers had taken on only about one Haitian for every thousand Central Americans.

We recently checked State Department monthly nonimmigrant visa issuance numbers for the months of August, September, and October and found the H-2B employers to be remarkably consistent in their hiring biases; in those months they hired 3,527 people from the Central American nations and three from Haiti.

The third case involved a presumably white owner of a catfish farm who hired white South African H-2As and paid them more than Black workers in the Mississippi Delta, which we wrote about recently.