On May 11, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expanding their preexisting collaboration with the goal of better detecting and eliminating fraud, abuse, and discrimination by employers bringing foreign workers to the United States. The MOU is intended to provide an improved process for sharing information, collaborating on cases, and cross-training investigators from each agency.
The MOU builds upon a 2010 collaboration between USCIS and DOJ that focused on sharing information about the misuse of E-Verify (the Internet-based system operated by USCIS that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of employees) and combating employment discrimination. The new MOU provides a framework for identifying data and information that the agencies can share with one another in an effort to better identify, investigate, and prosecute employers who discriminate against U.S. workers and/or violate immigration laws.
The partnership between the agencies was spurred by separate but similar policies put forth by the Trump administration. In 2017, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ launched its Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, designed to identify and act against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of foreign workers. Likewise, USCIS has been operating with the goal of promoting President Trump’s Buy American and Hire American executive order, which makes protecting the economic interests of U.S. workers a top priority. Both programs have considerably increased the level of scrutiny faced by U.S. businesses that employ or seek to employ foreign workers. The collaboration contemplated by the MOU is likely to further increase scrutiny, potentially prompting additional requests for evidence on cases and increasing delays in processing times.
The MOU went into effect on May 11, 2018, and gives the agencies 45 days to identify and agree upon the types of information to be shared.