McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against SpaceX alleging the company discriminates against hiring refugees and asylum-seekers.

The complaint, by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, alleges the company founded by Elon Musk “discriminated against asylees and refugees throughout its hiring process, including during recruiting, screening, and selection, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

The 13-page complaint, filed Wednesday in an administrative court within the Department of Justice, says from September 2018 to May 2022 the private space company discouraged asylees and refugees from apply for positions “by wrongly stating that SpaceX can only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.”

It alleges that refugees and asylees who did apply were not fairly considered or hired “because of their citizenship status.”

“Space X’s discriminatory hiring practices were routine, widespread, and longstanding, and harmed asylees and refugees,” according to the lawsuit.

Refugees and asylum-seekers who are legally paroled into the United States by the Department of Homeland Security and are issued work permits should be allowed to work in all qualifying positions, the federal government says.

Federal law prevents discriminatory hiring practices against asylees and refugees, according to the Immigration and Nationality Act.

According to the lawsuit, because SpaceX designs, manufacturers and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft, the company has claimed it can only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents due to export control laws and regulations including the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and the Export Administration Regulations (EAR).

The SpaceX South Texas Launch site underwent major expansion in 2020. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photos)

The lawsuit states: “Export control laws and regulations do not prohibit or restrict employers from hiring asylees and refugees; those laws treat asylees and refugees just like U.S. citizens.”

In a tweet in X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, which is now owned by Musk — Musk commented Thursday: “SpaceX was told repeatedly that hiring anyone who was not a permanent resident of the United States would violate international arms trafficking law, which would be a criminal offense. We couldn’t even hire Canadian citizens, despite Canada being part of NORAD! This is yet another case of weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes.”

According to a tweet cited in the June 16, 2020 lawsuit, Musk posted: “US law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are considered advanced weapons technology.”

Some of the commenters questioned how that is possible if Musk, himself, is South African-born.

Border Report has reached out to SpaceX for comment on the lawsuit and whether the company plans to change its hiring practices if ordered to do so by a judge. This story will be updated if information is received.

The company’s SpaceX South Texas Launch site is located near Boca Chica Beach, which is on the Texas-Mexico border on the Gulf of Mexico on a spit of undeveloped beach.

The SpaceX South Texas Launch site is located less than a mile from Boca Chica Beach, Texas. (Sandra Sanchez/Border Report File Photo)

The facility has grown significantly in the past decade to a sprawling compound stretched over a couple miles and employing hundreds in an area they call “Starbase.”

On the company’s website it states: “SpaceX is looking for world-class talent ready to tackle challenging projects that will ultimately enable life on other planets. We are an equal opportunity employer offering competitive salaries, comprehensive health benefits and equity packages.”

The website on Monday listed at least 135 full-time openings at Starbase ranging from engineers to food services to human resources recruiters.

The lawsuit alleges that according to data SpaceX provided the federal government, from September 2018 to May 2022, out of more than 10,000 hires, SpaceX hired only one individual who was an asylee.

The federal government wants a judge to order SpaceX to hire refugees and asylees who qualify for positions and to pay civil penalties for each individual they say has been discriminated against.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at