Marco Rubio Accuses Disney of Abusing Visa Program, Hurting US Workers

Florida senator is asked about Disney laying off 250 Orlando-based tech workers in late 2014

Updated March 11, 11:15 a.m. PT: Disney issued a statement on Friday disputing Sen. Marco Rubio’s statements about the company’s hiring of foreign workers.

Previously:

Last time, Marco Rubio mocked Donald Trump’s hands. Now it’s Mickey Mouse’s turn.

The Florida senator attacked Disney during tonight’s CNN GOP debate, saying the company abused a visa program.

Rubio was asked about Disney laying off 250 Orlando-based tech workers in late 2014, with many of them replaced with foreign workers. Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times said that Rubio supports the H-1B visa program that made it possible for Disney to bring in foreign workers before asking, “Doesn’t this program take jobs away from America?”

“If it’s abused the way Disney did,” Rubio answered. “It is illegal now under that program to use it to replace America workers.”

Rubio explained that you “have to prove, not only that you’re not replacing Americans but that you’ve tried to hire Americans.” He argued that consulting companies shouldn’t be allowed to “hoard up all these visas” and that we should be stricter on how the visa program is enforced.

“It is illegal now. It is a violation of the law now to use that program to replace Americans,” Rubio said. “If a company is caught doing that, Disney or anyone else, they should be barred from using that program in the future.”

A Disney Spokesperson has issued the following statement:

Over the past 5 years, The Walt Disney Company has added more than 18,000 jobs in the U.S. Approximately a year and a half ago, we reorganized our Parks and Resorts IT department, taking it from a team that focused primarily on maintaining our existing systems, to one that is more focused on developing new capabilities. A focus on innovation is critical given the constant evolution of technology.

Approximately 250 people were affected by the reorganization, and we were able to hire back more than 100 of them in other positions with Disney. In addition, since the reorganization, we have hired more than 140 other US IT workers into technical roles within the Parks technology team, and we are currently recruiting candidates to fill more than 100 IT positions. The Parks US IT team will ultimately be larger than it was prior to the reorganization.