As unemployment rose and the worst recession since the Great Depression worsened, the U.S. Senate Feb. 6 voted to prohibit banks that take taxpayer bailout funds from replacing laid off workers with foreign guest workers.
"Wall Street caused the crisis, millions of people lost jobs, including 100,000 in financial institutions. Now they want to bring in foreign workers," U.S. Sen.Bernie Sanders said. "Talk about adding insult to injury."
An investigation by a news organization found that a dozen banks now receiving more than $150 billion in bailouts requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years to replace laid-off American employees.
Legislation by Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would require bailed-out banks where there have been layoffs to hire only Americans for two years.
On a voice vote, the U.S. Senate added the Sanders-Grassley Amendment to an economic recovery bill.
"The very least we can do is to make sure that banks receiving a taxpayer bailout are not allowed to import cheaper labor from overseas while they are laying off American workers," Sanders said.
Layoffs at banks are part of a dramatically shrinking American workforce.
The U.S. economy lost 598,000 jobs in January, as the jobless rate rose to 7.6 percent, bringing total job losses since the recession started in December 2007 to 3.6 million, the Department of Labor reported last week.