A lawsuit filed against SpaceX by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could have a broad impact on business immigration depending on its outcome. SpaceX, the independent aerospace company founded by Elon Musk, is being accused of discriminating against asylum-seekers and immigrant refugees in its hiring practices.
DOJ attorneys want the court to force SpaceX to retool its hiring policies in such a way that guarantees that refugees and asylum-seekers are on a level playing field with all other candidates looking to work for the company.
A Confusing Set of Laws
As immigration attorneys specializing in business immigration law, we know how confusing the rules and regulations for hiring foreign workers can be. Immigration law is terribly complex and hard to navigate. SpaceX is dealing with an additional problem: balancing immigration priorities with import and export law. Indeed, that is the crux of their defense.
SpaceX design and manufacture rockets. Therefore, they must comply with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). They claim that ITAR bars them from hiring anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or green card holder. If that is true, refusing to hire asylum-seekers and refugees is not discrimination.
Unfortunately, the DOJ does not see it that way. Legal experts say that SpaceX isn’t alone in interpreting import/export law the way they do. Conflicts between ITAR and immigration law involving U.S. persons is fairly common.
Still U.S. Persons
The DOJ argues that asylum-seekers and refugees are still considered U.S. persons under ITAR. That being the case, they need to be given the same consideration for open positions as any other workers. They hope to force SpaceX to acknowledge as much. They also want the company to change its hiring practices to include more asylum-seekers and refugees.
It seems to us that the case will pit immigration law against national security interests. How the court will ultimately decide is anyone’s guess. We also fully expect appeals from whichever party loses the case. This one could take years to resolve. That is not unusual.
Competing Laws and Interests
The case against SpaceX exemplifies why it is so important for companies to retain business immigration attorneys. Any company that hopes to bring foreign workers to U.S. soil needs to go about things the right way. They need to follow the law explicitly, dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s.
In SpaceX’s case, they are up against competing laws and interests. On the one hand, their entire business could be compromised if they run afoul of ITAR regulations. But they are also a target of DOJ attorneys looking into employment discrimination. They either need to find a way to balance two sets of regulations or choose the lesser of the two evils and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, stories like this are not so uncommon in business immigration. Theoretically, immigration law should be straightforward and easy to understand. But it is not. Even the simplest of principles is often made more complex by competing rules, procedures, and policies. It is no coincidence that courts are overwhelmed by immigration cases.
We Are Here to Help
We sincerely hope that your company never runs into serious immigration problems. If it does, we might be able to help. As business immigration specialists, we make it our business to stay abreast of all current rules and regulations.
Even if your company is not facing a SpaceX-like lawsuit, we can assist with more basic tasks like helping with the H-1B and I-140 processes. We can help you make sure that you do everything by the book.