Foreign teachers in the Garland, Texas, schools yelled "foul" when they could not turn a temporary economic benefit (a short-term job in the United States) into a permanent economic bonanza, i.e., a green card.
The Garland Independent School District, like many K-12 institutions in Texas, had decided it would rather hire foreign school teachers through the H-1B program than hire from the huge collection of unemployed American teachers. That general practice was the subject of an earlier CIS report.
The objective, of course, is to cut wages and to employ teachers who are, in effect, indentured and thus less likely to refuse unattractive assignments.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department, not routinely assertive on behalf of displaced American workers, apparently has decided that Garland ignored the possibility of hiring U.S. teachers and has denied a block of 20 applications from Garland; the school district had wanted to convert some of its H-1B workers to green card holders.
Exactly what happened is not clear because the reporting of the Dallas Observer is somewhere between murky and totally biased in favor of the foreign teachers, who are telling the press: we did not do anything wrong and now we are about to be deported.
That is an overly simplistic way to look at the situation.
Some of the foreign teachers — who are working on limited-time visas — apparently were not granted extensions of the existing visas, nor were they about to get green cards; hence their complaints.
That the local daily took the migrants' spin on the issue is, sadly, too often the case. Instead of viewing the DOL decision to deny the 20 filings as good news for America's displaced teachers, we see photos of some of the alien teachers whose visas are expiring and hear their views of the situation.
The truth is that if you receive a temporary visa, that's what it is: impermanent, transitory, and subject to conversion into a pumpkin when it expires.
The foreign teachers did, however, have one valid ground for complaint in that the school district had insisted that they pay their own legal fees in connection with their H-1B visa status; that is contrary to the law, and DoL should make sure that these fees are repaid by the employer.
A couple of years ago DoL found that the Prince George's County, Md., schools had, similarly, gouged their H-1B teachers. In that case, DoL forced repayments and debarred the school system from using the foreign-worker program for two years, as we reported earlier.
Let's hope DoL will do the same with Garland. At the moment the debarred list carries no penalties for that district.
Garland, a city with more than 225,000 people, is a big enough municipality to know better. To its credit it fired the school district's HR director and hired a new law firm.
Mr. North, a Fellow of the Center for Immigration Studies, is an internationally recognized authority on immigration policy. His concentration is predominantly on the interaction between immigration and domestic systems, such as education and labor markets. See more of his writings here. Publications - Blog