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Mendoza v. Perez
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
754 F.3d 1002 (2014)
American employers may hire foreign workers for temporary agricultural work under the H-2A visa program created by the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended by the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Employers must first obtain a certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) that not enough willing and qualified U.S. workers are available and that using foreign workers will not lower U.S. workers’ wages or worsen their working conditions. DOL regulations governing the certification process set minimum working terms and conditions. In 2011, the DOL issued two Training and Employment Guidance Letters (TEGLs) establishing special procedures for cattle, sheep, and goat herding operations to obtain H-2A certification without going through notice-and-comment procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The TEGLs set different wage requirements and lower employer-provided housing standards than existing federal regulations. Reymundo Mendoza and three other foreign herders (plaintiffs) with legal immigrant status and U.S. work visas sued the DOL, claiming the TEGLs resulted in poor wages and working conditions that deterred them from working as herders. The herders argued that because the TEGLs met the APA’s definition of “rule-making,” DOL had to follow notice-and-comment procedures. DOL countered that the TEGLs were organizational or procedural rules exempt from notice-and-comment requirements. Two groups representing employers in the herding industry intervened and moved to dismiss the complaint. The district court dismissed the lawsuit, and the herders appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)
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