CIS report finds high rate of H-1B Visa fraud

From BusinessWeek:

[Note: Though the H-1B Visa program and this report are only marginally related to homeland security, CIS is part of DHS, so it gives an idea of just how wide a swath DHS cuts and how many related issues it has to deal with].

A report released Oct. 8 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals that 13% of petitions filed for H-1B visas on behalf of employers are fraudulent. Another 8% contain some sort of technical violations.

The study, released to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, marks the first time the agency, part of the Homeland Security Dept., has documented systematic problems with the controversial program. The report’s conclusion states: “Given the significant vulnerability, USCIS is making procedural changes, which will be described in a forthcoming document.”

There is also evidence that workers on H-1B visas are being mistreated. In a pending case, H-1B workers for State Farm Insurance allege they were underpaid.

Critics say such instances of abuse represent the tip of an iceberg of deeper problems with the visa program. “We shouldn’t forget that the major problem with the H-1B program are caused by massive loopholes that allow firms to legally pay below-market wages and force US workers to train foreign replacements,” says Hira. “Those wouldn’t show up in this investigation because they are entirely legal.” Hira says that a bill proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), S. 1035, would address both fraud and legal loopholes in the program.

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DOJ tweaking new rules on national security cases

The Justice Department, in a nod to concerns that Americans could be investigated in terrorism cases without evidence of wrongdoing, said Tuesday it will tweak still-tentative rules governing FBI national security cases before they are issued.

The Justice Department says the guidelines will merely streamline existing authorities used in criminal and national security investigations. But critics call them a broad expansion of FBI powers that could result in racial, ethnic or religious profiling without any evidence of a crime.

Not all of the planned changes were outlined during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, but Assistant Attorney General Elisebeth Cook said they would include limits on the length and kinds of investigative activities used in monitoring demonstrations and civil disorders.

The short hearing came as three Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded “bare-minimum” civil rights protections for U.S. citizens and residents as the FBI expands its power to seek out potential terrorists.