Sunday, June 24, 2007

A bunch of lawyers "screwing the American worker"

Cohen and Grigsby, one of the largest law firms in Pittsburgh, posted a recent immigration seminar online. In the seminar, the firm advises clients how to ensure foreigners are hired even though laws require that Americans are given top priority in recruitment.

In the video, the firm's VP of marketing tells the audience, "...the goal here of course is to meet the requirements... but also do so as inexpensively as possible, keeping in mind our goal. And our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker."

The Programmer's Guild posted a synopsis of the seminar online (hat tip: Larwyn):

CNN's Lou Dobbs happened upon the video and delivered a stunning assessment: "This is a bunch of cute little lawyers... playing little corporate games and screwing the American worker."

The Associated Press also picked up the story:

A U.S. senator wants an investigation into the ethics of a law firm whose YouTube video highlights how to circumvent the law to obtain visas for foreign employees... Attorneys say it's not illegal — but Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has asked Labor Secretary Elaine Chao to examine the firm's tactics.

...Grassley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee's immigration subcommittee, sent a letter to Cohen and Grigsby, demanding to know how many visa petitions have been filed by the firm in the past five years. He denounced the firm's tactics as discrimination.

...The video clip appears to confirm the suspicions of many who accuse companies of placing want-ads in newspapers to show the Department of Labor it is recruiting Americans, knowing all along that they won't attract qualified applicants...

Palma Yanni, a Washington, D.C.-based immigration lawyer, said the department requires companies to make a good-faith effort to hire an American before applying for a work visa for a foreigner... "By encouraging employers not to make a good-faith effort, they are violating the rules, period," Yanni said of Cohen and Grigsby's tactics.

The first priority for the Labor Secretary? Let's hope it's outsourcing immigration-law advice to offshore legal firms. In fact, here's a seminar I'm thinking of holding.

Don Surber: "Nobody knows what a petard is anymore. Everyone knows what You Tube is. Cohen and Grigsby just YouTubed itself."

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