It has been revealed that the Times Square bomber was once an H-1B nonimmigrant worker at one point in his immigration history, and it is likely that the main schemer in the Goldman Sachs mortgage scandal was one, too.
These are just two more blows to a once-mighty foreign worker program that has fallen on multiple hard times. Applications for the program – presumably depressed by the recession – have dropped to all-time lows and it appears that USCIS has started to run an ad on its website to drum up more business.
Meanwhile, the would-be Times Square bomber, captured some 53 short hours after he abandoned his bomb-rigged car on the street, turns out to be Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-born naturalized U.S. citizen who once was an H-1B worker, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Anti-H1-B activist Gene Nelson called that article to my attention.)
Shahzad's immigration history follows a fairly familiar pattern. He apparently arrived as an F-1 foreign student and is first recorded (apparently in 1998 and 1999) as attending Southeastern University in Washington, D.C., with other international students. Southeastern is exactly the kind of institution that should not have had the power to issue to Shahzad, or anyone else, the documents that lead to F-1 status.
It was long known as a very weak, fourth-rate institution. Finally, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, an organization of colleges and widely regarded as a feeble educational watchdog, put it out of business as lacking the resources and the credibility needed to teach people. Throughout the years of its decline Southeastern continued to grind out the USCIS-created forms that led to F-1 status for foreign students.
Shahzad then moved up the educational ladder to the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, again as an F-1 student. After he graduated with a degree in computer science he secured a H1-B visa and initially worked at Elizabeth Arden, the cosmetics giant, according to the New York Times. Later he married a U.S. citizen, of Pakistani descent, and, still later, became a naturalized citizen.
If convicted of whatever he is charged with – and the speculation is that he will spend the rest of his life in jail – USCIS might later go through the rather rare process of de-naturalization.
Meanwhile, a few miles south on Wall Street, another probable ex-H1-B was in another negative limelight. This was Fabrice Toure, a 31-year-old Frenchman who was charged by the SEC's civil suit as the creator of what the SEC regarded as a fraudulent and complex mortgage deal, in which Goldman allowed someone betting against the package of securities to help select the securities in the package.
I have not seen this in print, but my strong suspicion is that Toure was once an H-1B nonimmigrant worker. He got an undergraduate degree at Stanford and then joined Goldman Sachs in 2001; this was year in which it was easy to hire H1-Bs, and Goldman is known as a substantial user of the program.
Unlike Shahzad, whose bomb did not go off, Toure's "bomb" did, and cost a couple of European banks about a billion dollars, money that went to the manipulator of the sub-prime mortgage package that collapsed, as it was designed to do.
Toure, who was flown in from London by Goldman Sachs to testify before Congress, has been named in a civil suit, but, not so far, in a criminal one.
These two ex-H1-Bs will probably never meet, except on the front pages of America's newspapers.