The New way to News
Picture credit : Sundry Photography / shutterstock.com
DOJ Sues SpaceX Over Hiring Policy

DOJ Sues SpaceX Over Hiring Policy

By RZR News Team
Sep 12, 2023

Fast Facts

Please subscribe to continue viewing this content.

Starting at just $8 per month

Analysis

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is engaged in a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice for alleged hiring discrimination against asylees and refugees. Elon needs to tread extremely carefully in the proceedings of this lawsuit because of the nature of the products that SpaceX designs. 

SpaceX is a private company that designs, manufactures and launches space crafts and military devices: satellites, rockets and spacecraft. Furthermore, SpaceX has an ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense to offer secured satellite networks through the Starshield. 

According to Elon, the nature of SpaceX’s products and services makes the company subject to the authority of the International Traffic and Arms Regulations (ITAR). Not surprisingly, Elon did his homework. Listed in chapter 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations ITAR describes that persons eligible for employment in an ITAR-company must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States or a protected individual set forth by Title 8. Title 8 definition of “Protected Individual” is written below:

“…the term ‘‘protected individual’’ means an individual who— (A) is a citizen or national of the United States, or (B) is an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence, is granted the status of an alien lawfully admitted for temporary residence under section 1160(a) or 1255a(a)(1) of this title, is admitted as a refugee under section 1157 of this title, or is granted asylum under section 1158 of this title.”

The DOJ complaint states, “SpaceX discriminated against asylees and refugees throughout its hiring process, including during recruiting, screening, and selection, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (‘INA’).” According to INA subsections 274A and 274B, Title 8 United States Code 1324b and 1324c respectively, there appear to be some contradictions between the INA and ITAR. INA 274A titled, “Unlawful Employment of Aliens,” states it is unlawful to hire an alien for employment knowing that the alien is an unlawful alien. INA 274B titled, “Unfair immigration-related employment practices,” states in respect to the hiring process, it is an unfair immigration-related employment practice to discriminate against individuals (other than unauthorized aliens) because of the individual’s national origin or because of their protected individual status. 

Essentially, the DOJ is attempting to hit SpaceX on the laws and regulations relating to employment discrimination of protected individuals. However, the DOJ’s contradiction lies in the vast gray area of protecting national security or protecting “protected individuals.” ITAR was intentionally created as a security measure to enforce the safety and security of national defense technologies and data from being leaked to foreign nationals. Simply put, “protected individuals” are simply protected individuals. Technically, they are not U.S. citizens or green card holders, and on an international level, these individuals may only claim and prove citizenship to countries outside of the United States. If Elon were to hire these “protected individuals” it is very likely he would face heavy legal battles with the Department of State, which oversees ITAR enforcement. In various employment areas of the United States government, only United States citizens are permitted for hire; is the government exempt from hiring practices they place on private companies that are contracted for national security purposes? Apparently so. 

This lawsuit appears extremely politically targeted, and unless SpaceX can stand on its own feet in court, it seems that many more legal battles will ensue. Unfortunately, this lawsuit is yet another example of lawful United States individuals, companies and national security being placed behind the priorities the progressives have for those who are not citizens of the United States. 

Elon Musk is a lawful American who has created thousands of jobs across his business, aids the government in national security and is a born leader. His failures are public and his follow-up successes are grand and nothing short but commendable. Elon’s character can further be attested by his statement, “This is not out of some desire of SpaceX to just hire people with green cards — it’s because we’re not allowed to do anything else. I think this is not a wise policy for the US because there are so many talented people all around the world that we would love to have work at our company. But unless (they) can somehow get a green card, we’re legally prevented from hiring anyone.”

– SG

Learn more about the conservative viewpoint

This all seems to be a bizarre gray area in immigration law. To recap, SpaceX – the Elon Musk-backed space program – is currently being sued over hiring discrimination. The complaint alleges SpaceX pursued an unlawful course when handling the applications of asylum seekers and refugees. If found guilty, SpaceX would be open to a series of fines and the potential loss of precious and lucrative defense contracts.

SpaceX’s defense rests in the vagary that is immigration law and assumed controls on who can and cannot work on specific projects. Being foreign-born, there exist some barriers to the type of accessible labor in the United States. For example, there exist strict laws about shielding foreign nationals from working with rockets. SpaceX’s defense is almost entirely dependent on how a judge interprets such laws. 

However, it is important to note that U.S. law treats refugees and asylum-seekers the same as U.S. citizens and green card holders. Therefore, under this provision, any such discrimination of nation of origin would be a direct and clear violation of labor law. 

If the DOJ’s complaint/lawsuit is found to be true, SpaceX should be heavily punished. But such an investigation should not just stop at SpaceX. Throughout the defense industry, I’m willing to bet that this labor law is routinely violated. At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, this would not be a story if a certain Elon Musk was not the founder and C.E.O. 

Lastly, SpaceX should not lose government contracts over this breach. A fine seems appropriate here and it seemed they were acting in seemingly good faith. For reference, 25%-30% of Tesla’s workforce is foreign-born. So it seems more of an issue with ill-defined laws and a media circus that is giving this investigation life than actual bad faith on SpaceX’s part. Fine them to be sure, but more importantly, write clearer defined laws.

– William J. Goldman

Learn more about the independent viewpoint

Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued SpaceX for its hiring practices that discriminated against refugees and asylees. The statute in which the DOJ is pursuing this lawsuit is the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which prohibits unfair employment standards and practices used by companies like SpaceX. 

SpaceX, however, argues that its actions were permissible under Export Administration Regulations and International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which, in theory, would allow them to discriminate against immigrants. The only grounds in which this theory might be applicable is that, according to these regulations, American companies are allowed to withhold information and technologies from “foreign persons.” In other words, if a company believes that a foreign individual could compromise national security if given sensitive technologies, then it has the right to keep that person away.  

On this point, one important aspect to consider is whether SpaceX had legitimate reason to believe that these refugees and asylees were actually a possible threat to national security. As the DOJ would claim, it had no reason to believe so. Therefore, these application rejections can be more amply characterized as a case of unfair employment discrimination. 

When it comes to something like a company’s hiring practice, it is difficult to prove discrimination because there are a host of reasons that the company can give as to why it rejected an applicant. So, for the DOJ to pursue this lawsuit shows that it must have discovered such substantial evidence that it is not even questionable whether SpaceX violated labor laws. 

– James Demertzis

Learn more about the liberal viewpoint

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against SpaceX on the grounds the company’s hiring policy discriminates against asylum recipients and refugees. According to the DOJ’s lawsuit, SpaceX’s hiring policy violates the Immigration and Nationality Act by refusing to hire or consider candidates based on the candidate’s citizenship status. 

It is worth noting that according to the DOJ, SpaceX claimed they were legally required by federal regulations to hire candidates that are either U.S. citizens or permanent green card residents. Furthermore, an American company should to a certain extent prioritize the hiring of American workers. 

In addition, according to one tweet, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says the DOJ should “sue themselves.” Musk is referring to a tweet by George Mason University Professor Alex Tabarrok who pointed out the fact the DOJ only posts job listings that are available to US citizens, or permanent residents of the country on their website.  

In addition, Representative Mike Collins (R-Ga), also supported SpaceX but assigned the root of the issue to a different culprit. Collins tweeted, “the Biden administration keeps our borders wide open and then expects American businesses to accommodate illegals at the threat of prosecution.” 

Collins’s allusion to the ongoing crisis near the U.S.-Mexico border, where migrant numbers have soared since the Biden administration took office. Collins’s tweet also supports the position of SpaceX when it comes to hiring only U.S. citizens, making the argument that small businesses should not be responsible for the decisions of the federal government. 

Collins’s argument also correlates with Tabarrok’s point about the DOJ’s selectivity for candidates who are hired for their own department, raising an interesting point about the hypocrisy of the DOJ’s lawsuit against SpaceX. While the DOJ’s claim about equitability is valid, one must practice what one preaches. To better support other countries, one must support one’s own countrymen first. 

According to their website, the DOJ says asylees and refugees’ permission to work in the United States does not expire, and asylees and refugees are equal to U.S. citizens and green card citizens when it comes to applications for company positions. The question now becomes, who is truly in the wrong here, if anyone? Or is it everyone? 

Learn more about the libertarian viewpoint