INS won't deport Indian Programmersgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
INS won't deport Indians Programmers' future unclear
By Sig Christenson Express-News Staff Writer
The U.S. immigration service has dropped deportation proceedings against 23 computer programmers from India arrested last month at Randolph AFB, but they still may be forced to leave the country, a top agency official said late Friday.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service's Kenneth Pasquarell said notices issued to the Indians to appear in court for deportation proceedings had been dropped.
Pasquarell, the INS' district director in San Antonio, said his agency instead would take action against two Houston firms that brought the programmers to Texas.
Though that could result in the programmers returning to India, an Alamo City attorney representing them was upbeat about their future.
"I'd say they're pretty much out of the woods," Joe De Mott said. "The focus has shifted now from the workers to the companies, and whether or not the companies are in compliance with all requirements, and I think we can show they are."
The INS decision comes almost two months after immigration agents arrested 40 Indian contract computer programmers at Randolph's Air Force Personnel Center, which oversees personnel matters affecting 352,263 active-duty troops. Twenty-three programmers posted $5,000 bond each, while 15 others were released by the INS pending further investigation.
Pasquarell said Randolph is free to bring the Indians back to work. That was described as very good news by one programmer who did not want to be identified.
But with AFPC closed Friday night, it wasn't clear what action would be taken. It also wasn't clear, moreover, if the Indians had a long-term future in the United States.
Letters advising the programmers that deportation proceedings had been dropped were issued as the week ended.
Pasquarell, who wrote the letters, advised the Indians that they could be given "a period of time in which to depart the United States" or possibly face deportation if their employers' visa petitions were revoked by INS.
The Randolph raid came after a six-month probe into a type of visa fraud called "body shopping," the practice of firms telling the government they'll place highly skilled foreign workers in jobs that don't exist, then sending them to other cities.
The INS said two firms subcontracting for ACS Government Solutions Group Inc., AFPC's prime contractor for developing a pair of computer programs, may have broken the law by claiming they'd place the workers in Houston, then later shifting them to San Antonio.
De Mott, local counsel for the firms, said the dispute rested on whether Softech Consulting Inc. and Frontier Consulting Inc., which helped the programmers obtain H1-B visas allowing them to enter the United States, were in fact employing those workers, and whether the companies skirted federal rules requiring Labor Department approval to move the Indians to San Antonio.
Tens of thousands of skilled foreign workers are brought to the United States each year under H1-B visas, which run for up to six years.
As the arrests sparked an international uproar, De Mott and several other local attorneys wondered why INS had arrested the Indians, rather than taking action against Frontier and Softech.
Pasquarell said criticism after the arrests, which included comments by Indian Ambassador Naresh Chandra, and widespread publicity in the United States and abroad, played no role in the decision to drop the deportation proceedings.
"I would imagine that someone looked it over and said it would be a much better route to take to do the (companies' visa) petition than to go after an individual, case-by-case basis," he explained.
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), February 21, 2000
Keeping the workers in US territory is probably a good security measure under present conditions. The practice of subcontracting on all government levels has been loosely monitored, if at all. Ideally we would determine the identities and location of all foreign nationals who have been employed under temporary visa or work permits on government projects, especially those individuals who have left the country. That still leaves the question of the black market worker-one who is imported without any acknowledgement or legal process and then sent "home" after the contract is completed- unanswered . These issues are not yet at a signficant level of public awareness.
-- another government hack (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 21, 2000.
GAO has previously reported that the software for doing security clearances in several agencies was not y2k-compliant and could not be upgraded for several months. That software made the "non-mission- critical" list apparently.
This is a serious problem. This is not against foreign programmers per se. *Everyone8 needs to be screened if they have access to sensitive material
-- Bud Hamilton (email@example.com), February 23, 2000.
An article on this board that Bud may be referring to:
Pentagon's Case Control Management System not Y2k compliant... Pentagon will push ahead with flawed background check system
-- Lee Maloney (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 23, 2000.