Nature Abhors an Unused Loophole

“Nature abhors a vacuum,” the physicists say, so no one should be surprised by the news that Wright State University seems to have gotten into the rent-an-engineer business that firms like Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and so on dominate. Ironically, academia actually has advantages over the Indian firms, in that (a) there is no H-1B cap for university workers, and (b) prevailing wage is calculated by the academic labor market, i.e. the subsistence-level salaries of graduate assistants, post docs and assistant professors. Nature abhors an unused loophole, apparently, and Wright State seems to have responded.

But this “vacuum” may have been filled years ago, as I’ve suspected for a quite a while that this is actually a common path. Intel has a research center (a “lablet,” they call it) at Carnegie Mellon University, and at several other universities as well. And I was startled a couple of years ago to find that Microsoft has its own post-doc positions. Now that the Wright State situation has been exposed, hopefully journalists will check whether abuse is occurring in these other “collaborations.”

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12 thoughts on “Nature Abhors an Unused Loophole

  1. I appreciate your added details, Norm. “WSU sponsored visa for worker at trustee’s firm” is an excellent article. Please also read the two other related articles by investigative reporter Josh Sweigart: “Suspended WSU employees tied to IT contract” and “Visa Fraud Rarely Prosecuted” Note also that higher-skilled work visa abuse was set in motion by the less-than-honorable U.S. Representative Joshua Eilberg via his 1976 “Eilberg Amendment.”

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    • The 1976 “Eilberg Amendment” established the unlimited cap for colleges and universities. The legal precedent was the “sheepherder exemption” in the 1952 McCurran-Walter act. However, the annual cap on sheepherders was 500 annually. Policy analyst Robert Sanchez conducted a great amount of research connected with these issues. He documented how a program to import a limited number of low-skilled workers morphed into a set of work visa programs importing large numbers of young higher-skilled foreign workers into the U.S. Please search for the phrase, “Robert Sanchez talks about the flaws in employment-based visa programs, including the threat they pose to American workers, the U.S. economy, and national security” to locate the article dated May 28, 2007.

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  2. This sounds like the loophole that was created with the 2000 bill that upped the H-1B quota to 195,000 for a few years. This bill also allowed employers that meet certain criteria to import foreign labor under H-1B outside the quota. As I recall, former Republican Senator Spencer Abraham of Michigan had a lot to do with this.

    The number of H-1B visas that are issued each year under quota of about 85,000 nowadays gets talked about, but too few are talking about the number of H-1B visas that are being issued each year outside of the quota. That number is apparently in the 10s of thousands each year. I have not seen precise numbers.

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    • Excellent point. The universities did indeed lobby hard for an exemption to the cap in the late 1990s, ultimately with success, as you note.

      Note too that this yet another example of why it is wrong to assume that the main abuse of H-1B is by the “Infosyses,” while assuming that the mainstream “Intels” and the universities use the visa responsibly. It was exactly that attitude that led to the cap exemption for the universities.

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  3. The Dayton Daily newspaper articles linked to your post do not give an adequate description about the Wright State student population, the WSU staff’s work environment and how these factors probably emboldened this alleged administrative deception by WSU employee staff.

    I currently live about 60 miles from Wright State University and I’m familiar with the Wright State University campus that has expanded quite a lot over the past 20 years. I’m a co-founder of the Apple-Dayton Macintosh User Groups that organized and first met at Wright State in 1985.

    Wright State University (WSU) in Fairborn, Ohio is located close to the United States Air Force’s secret Research, Development, and Testing facilities at Wright-Patterson Airforce Base. Many students enrolled at WSU are active, enlisted military soldiers trying to earn college degrees or accreditation while working full-time for the US Air Force. WSU benefits from recruiting active military staff and their families as full or part-time WSU students because military students enable better college education outreach to a mobile military workforce and more guaranteed enrollment revenue for WSU. The US Government guarantees WSU full payment in advance for most active-duty military student enrollment costs (excluding books). WSU does not have to act as a college education loan “bill collector” for military student loans – this is the Federal Government’s responsibility that originally guaranteed the payments to WSU.

    I wonder if the following WSU campus/workplace “social dynamics” enabled and/or allowed these fraudulent and illegal H1-b hiring actions to occur without detection. IMHO, the following concerns are not ranked by importance:

    1.) The WSU student population and administrative staff is constantly changing with military hiring, re-assignments, and/or re-deployments makes WSU military student or employee tracking by administrative staff difficult due to military security concerns. This is not a military excuse for WSU administrative errors, just a warning that any college campus with a higher percentage of student turnover associated with the military may be more vulnerable to employment misrepresentations or abuses due to lack of adequate staffing, employee training, or compliance enforcement.

    2.) US Military members and staff are taught to not question authority in their chain of command when performing their delegated job responsibilities. Consequently, many WSU administrative staff (who often come from military-related backgrounds in this geographic region) may not be inclined to investigate possible violations of Federal Laws because it is not their responsibility to do so. WSU administrative staff is often associated with both military training and government R&D contracts with security concerns. It is not the WSU employee’s career best interest to be a “Whistleblower” and question WSU administrative staff actions.

    3.) No apparent outside peer review of WSU employment practices or employee compensation – including alleged H1-b worker wage compensation abuses,

    4.) WSU legal department staff did not adequately investigate and/or apply US Federal Laws regarding worker status, contract compliance, or University hiring practices,

    5.) Inadequate financial accounting “checks and balances” by the University’s outside auditing firm with whom they contract,

    6.) It seems that WSU Senior Administrators and Academic may have enabled the unethical and possibly illegal job promotions with increased pay and more job responsibility for WSU employees who encouraged, reviewed, and/or facilitated these alleged violations of Federal Law,

    7.) Why did it take almost 5 years to uncover and investigate these University employee violations of Federal Laws? Weak College Department internal controls and inadequate internal review process where other academic staff probably would not/could not file a complaint against the Department Head who was later promoted to second highest person in charge of day-to-day operations at the University.

    The bottom line is that we have read only part of this story about this collegiate employee fraud at WSU and it will be interesting to see which facts are disclosed in US Federal Court. Stay tuned because more illegal payoffs will eventually be disclosed, but this employee fraud at WSU will take years of legal entanglements to resolve…

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  4. […] The bottom line is that we have read only part of this story about this collegiate employee fraud at WSU and it will be interesting to see which facts are disclosed in US Federal Court. Stay tuned because more illegal payoffs will eventually be disclosed, but this employee fraud at WSU will take years of legal entanglements to resolve… https://normsaysno.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/nature-abhors-an-unused-loophole/ […]

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