More Gulen Teachers Coming Our Way?

By David North on August 9, 2016

The reaction (or over-reaction) by the Erdogan government to the attempted coup in Turkey is bad news for America's unemployed school teachers – because there suddenly is a huge supply of newly-fired educators over there who would love to have a chance to work in America.

We have written in the past about how the Gulen cult, with its network of some 160 tax-supported charter schools in the States, has routinely dropped U.S. teachers and used the H-1B program to import fellow Gulenists to teach American teenagers – including in some cases importing people from Turkey to teach English in the U.S.

The needlessly recruited Turkish teachers are usually either graduates of Gulen-affiliated universities in Turkey, or teachers in other Gulen-related educational institutions. Now there will be a lot more of these teachers looking for work because, in the aftermath of the failed coup in that country, the dictatorial president (Recep Erdogan) has lashed out at the supporters of his one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (not living in Pennsylvania), in that nation's educational institutions. Erdogan claims Gulen was behind the coup attempt.

Erdogan, a conservative Islamist, is reported to have fired all the deans of all the nation's universities, and thousands of other teachers, as he seeks to punish anyone who is, or might be, allied to Gulen.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has reminded us, in a confused way, of the conflicted path used by Gulen to secure his own permanent resident status in the U.S.:

...he was granted an immigrant visa in 2001 as a ‘religious worker' Eighteen months later he applied for permanent residence.

Before his application was adjudicated the government revoked his "religious" visa for undisclosed reasons. Gulen successfully appealed that decision even as he filed, in late 2006, a new permanent residence petition this time as an "educator" under a special program for persons with "extraordinary ability."

In November 2007, that application was denied. Gulen appealed and was again denied but he had already filed a federal civil suit charging that he had been mistreated.

For more than a year [the Justice Department] fought the case arguing that Gulen who had not attended high school or taught in a classroom was neither an educator nor extraordinary..."

Eventually a federal judge decided in his favor and he has been here ever since.

It is clear that Gulen had initially been granted a nonimmigrant visa for a religious worker; this category includes both immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, which is not well-known. The "special program for persons with 'extraordinary ability'" referred to in the Post report is the ongoing employment-based first preference (EB-1) category for permanent residence that is rarely mentioned in the press. One of its advantages, for aliens who qualify, is that there is no queue for this visa, as the numerical limits for EB-1 visas are rarely reached.

Reading between the lines, there must have been periods in this multi-year process when Gulen lacked any legal status to remain in the U.S.

That Gulen, after multiple applications and filings was ultimately able to win his case in court is not unusual; well-funded, well-lawyered aliens often win such battles.

The government of Turkey is making a continuing effort to get him deported so that he can stand trial in that nation.

I doubt that they will succeed, but watch out for a flood of H-1B petitions for charter high school teachers.