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Greg Siskind on Immigration Law and Policy

Staffing Agency Being Sued By Justice Department for Preference for Foreign Workers

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.

I've stated in this blog before that we have existing laws that target employers that abuse the immigration system either to hurt American workers or exploit vulnerable foreign workers. Before we pass bills making things tougher on all H-1B employers - be they bad actors or good - we should focus on enforcing our existing laws. That is what the DOJ appears to be doing in this case. It may be that the company being targeted is innocent, of course. But if they are turning away qualified and willing American workers in favor of foreign workers, that's likely a form of nationality discrimination and it is illegal.

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    High-profile incidents like Rajat Gupta trial turning up ugly side of Indian Americans
    By Sujeet Rajan

    NEW YORK: Corporate greed, insider trading, cyber bullying, fraudulent scams, forced servitude and workforce exploitation. It may seem like election-year subjects up for debate, but a plethora of recent trials, convictions and charges involving Indian Americans, is turning up an ugly side of the community, which may tarnish the till-now impeccable credentials of a group known for being rich, highly educated, and family-oriented.

    The just concluded trial of New Jersey college freshman Dharun Ravi divided even the Indian American community on the issue of conservative, closeted parentage, hazards of shielding talk of gay issues at home, fostering a culture where more wealth and education means more privilege in society, the rest be damned.

    Ravi's stoic silence during the course of the trial, where he refused to show remorse for his actions - "anything I say now would sound rehearsed and empty, and nothing I say is going to make people hate me any less," Ravi told a local newspaper before the verdict - has made it one thing clear to the community: to inculcate in their children from an early age respect and tolerance for people of all classes and backgrounds.

    Feudal, Close-knit

    Even as the community is recovering from the Ravi trial, they are under the spotlight in yet another high-profile case of the year currently underway: Rajat Gupta, the former chief of McKinsey & Co and a top philanthropist, is under scrutiny by a jury for insider trading, for passing confidential information to the convicted Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam.

    Next week, former McKinsey director Anil Kumar, who has already pleaded guilty to tipping Rajaratnam, is expected to testify in the Gupta case, adding more to the desi twist on Wall Street.

    Gupta and Kumar are among a shockingly high number of Indian Americans on Wall Street, and in medical and business circles, who are being charged for fraudulent practices this year itself: last week, Ameriprise Financial's fund manager, Reema Shah, pleaded guilty to securities fraud and insider trading charges relating to deals between Yahoo! and Microsoft and a couple of other companies.

    Scams of Scale

    And when it comes to garnering notoriety, the Indian Americans seem to have a penchant for the biggest and the baddest deals. In one of the top frauds of all time in the United States, an Indian American couple in New York, Reddy Allen and Dr Padma Allen, were charged last month with raking in over $460 million through a corruption scam involving New York City's ambitious CityTime project, intended to modernise the municipal payroll system.

    A grand jury ruled that more than $600 million of the project's budget was fraudulent because of an intricate scam run by the Allens where they paid more than $15 million in kickbacks and hired a bevy of crooked subcontractors, to run an over-billing scam which pumped money into their firm TechnoDyne.

    "With success, come anguish. Because when a community seeks to excel itself at all cost then you run the risk of breaking the rule of law," says Ravi Batra, an attorney based in New York.

    Maid in Manhattan

    While these criminal cases involving theft of public money and fraudulent practices are among many such other cases that spring up all over the country, involving people of all ethnic backgrounds and nationalities, it is perhaps the recent cases of alleged abuse of servants at homes that has cast unwanted attention on the community.


    Indian diplomat Neena Malhotra, a former consul at the Indian consulate in New York, and now based in New Delhi, was judged to have held back pay and committed other abuses to a maid she brought from India. Another high-profile case that is soon going to come up is yet another allegation of forced labour charges against Prabhu Dayal, the Consul General of India in New York, concerning a domestic help brought from India.

    Rubbished by Dayal and the external affairs ministry in India, the case nevertheless has prompted the Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao to call for a review of the policy of providing domestic help to its diplomats abroad, and announcing a "zero-tolerance" policy for abuse of domestic help.

    And it's been four years now, since the infamous case of the Sabhnanis closed, which played endlessly for days on national television. Varsha Sabhnani was sentenced to 11 years in prison and her husband, Mahender Sabhnani, a New York-based businessman who made millions in making perfumes, was sentenced to three and a half years, for charges that included forced labour, conspiracy, involuntary servitude and harbouring aliens, involving two Indonesian female servants.

    In the almost 50 years since the immigration floodgates opened in the United States, and skilled workers from India came to carve a path of excellence for the community, Indian Americans are known for their affluence, as the richest community with the most per capita income.

    That may not change in the years to come. But perceptions in the US may change if the moral and ethical questions keep coming up. Unflattering stereotyping may become the consequence.


  2. Grace's Avatar
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