GOP Attorney General Jeff Landry Caught in Visa Worker Scheme with Convicted Labor Broker Marco Pesquera

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has been caught in a multi-million dollar visa scheme with Texas labor broker Marco Pesquera. Together, they worked to bring hundreds of construction workers from Mexico to help build a Cameron Parish liquified natural gas terminal. Pesquera is currently in federal prison after pleading guilty to multiple years of visa fraud. His business became successful by helping contractor clients bring more than 1,000 skilled laborers from Mexico to the South, wherein clients would save costs by paying Mexican laborers far less than American laborers. Under H-2B visa rules, workers from Mexico were also unable to quit for better jobs and were stuck in their positions. This is how Pesquera and Landry’s firms also planned to make millions together, by winning federal approval to bring in more than 300 immigrant laborers for the building of the natural gas terminal in Cameron Parish rather than hiring local residents. Their nine-month contract was predicted to bring in 17 million dollars at one point.

Applications for the project included methods of falsely claiming a need for temporary foreign labor, and using shell companies and unnecessary work orders to gain federal approval. This plan involved two firms owned by Jeff Landry and one owned by his brother, Benjamin Landry. The companies owned by the Landry brothers were used to provide the visas to workers, pay for their travels to the Gulf Coast, and provide them paychecks. Upon his conviction, Pesquera shared hundreds of documents including visa applications, email exchanges and other records detailing his work throughout the time with his company. Although his convictions were unrelated to the Cameron Parish project, Pesquera says that he used the same methods with the Landry firms as he had been using for years. He has provided documents and information about their partnership in hopes that Louisiana will pursue a case against Jeff Landry and reduce Pesquera’s prison term as a reward.

On February 12th following the release of news around the Cameron Parish project, Jeff Landry’s brother Benjamin Landry released a video claiming that he and his brother were under attack due to his brother’s conservative stances and that they were unaware they went into business with a partner in fraudulent efforts.

However, the information provided by Pesquera documents the steps Landry and his companies took to hide ties, protect Pesquera and his company, and falsely express the need for temporary foreign labor in federal approval applications. In the emails, it is clear that Landry chose the three companies that were used because they were best positioned to gain approval for guest-worker visas. They were not chosen due to any experience in industrial construction. Jeff Landry has declined to respond to public questioning of his actions, and instead employed his brother to create the video above in defense of their work. The video deflects all blame and fails to show any responsibility for the partnership with Pesquera In fact, Benjamin Landry goes so far as to claim that they “helped expose a fraudulent business and end their attempt to injure businesses in Louisiana” in reference to Pesquera. However, records show at least four separate cases in which Landry’s firms submitted false or misleading paperwork to gain visa approvals.

There is a current trend in Republican Attorney Generals facing exposure for fraudulent efforts. Although put into public office to supervise and counsel on legal matters of the state and public interest, Republican Attorney Generals have failed to show regard for law themselves. Landry’s situation has come to light at the same time that Trump’s AG William Barr has been called on to resign by more than 2,000 former Department of Justice officials. This is due to Barr’s interference in the Roger Stone case, where he overruled a sentencing recommendation for Stone on the counts of witness tampering, lying to Congress and obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller case. Trump praised General Barr for taking charge of the case and overruling the sentence, although Barr himself claims there was no coordination with the White House in taking actions to seek out a lighter sentence for Stone. Barr has been accused many times of close connections with the president. Democrats have demanded an investigation into the case of Barr, and Republicans have also spoken out on their disapproval of his and Trump’s case interference.

Louisiana’s governor, Democrat John Bel Edwards, has expressed his discontent with the Landry case on twitter. “This report about the AG’s business dealing contained some troubling allegations. I was particularly surprised to learn that the AG doesn’t see his job as a full time job. The people of LA deserve an AG who is fully focused on state.” This is in response to Landry’s focus on his multitude of corporate firms, three of which are involved in the visa fraud case. 

Landry has long been outspoken about sanctuary cities such as New Orleans and Lafayette Parish, publicly denouncing them for being “soft” on immigration and portraying their sanctuary status as a reason for high crime and danger levels. Although he has refused to answer questions about the visa situation, he has continued to claim his commitment to supporting legal immigration while criticizing sanctuary cities. Yet, Louisiana law requires that labor jobs be advertised locally before visas can be granted to foreign workers. There must be a lack of local temporary workers in order for requests of outside help to receive approval. And although 113 Americans applied for the gas terminal jobs in Cameron Parish, none of them were hired by Landry’s firms. The Landrys have indeed refused to comment on why no Americans were hired for the job, with spokesmen for Landry instead emphasizing that their staffing companies have hired more than 3,500 U.S. workers in the last decade. State Representative Ted James, a Democrat from Baton Rouge, tweeted that if the AG needed help locating Louisiana welders and pipe-fitters for the job, he could have called him, the Urban League, or BRCC. “I would have been glad to help.”


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