My colleague David North wrote recently about a civil suit against Infosys, a large corporation that provides a cheap and plentiful supply of foreign labor to U.S. client businesses. As North documented, the company seems to excel at violating federal discrimination laws in favor of sourcing young Indian workers to its clientele, a propensity that has gotten it into hot water previously.
Most recently, things took a different twist when the New York State attorney general filed suit, alleging that Infosys was giving specific advice to its Indian worker referrals on how to avoid getting ensnared by U.S. consular and border officials, even though the conditions of their visas and entry precluded the right to work lawfully in the United States.
Shockingly the advice was even reduced to writing, including a "Do's and Don'ts" memorandum among other things. The suit was settled for a million bucks — cheap at the price, as North also noted.
Citing the settlement, North posed this question: "Is not this evidence, given the repeated nature of the company's infractions, sufficient for either the Department of Labor to put Infosys on the debarred list or for the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] to take similar action?"
The answer is unambiguously yes. And the form that action should take is criminal prosecution, both of the corporation as a legal entity, as well as all those Infosys officials individually who are discovered to have participated in this scheme. I can think of at least two federal felony violations that are relevant:
Aiding and Abetting, and Conspiracy to Commit, Visa Fraud. 18 U.S.C. Section 1546 provides in pertinent part that:
Whoever knowingly makes under oath, or ... knowingly subscribes as true, any false statement with respect to a material fact in any application, affidavit, or other document required by the immigration laws. ... Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned ... 10 years (in the case of the first or second such offense, if the offense was not committed to facilitate such an act of international terrorism or a drug trafficking crime).
While this would seem to apply only to the worker-applicant who was advised to lie, two other provisions of the federal criminal code make clear that the company and its officials are also culpable. 18 U.S.C. Section 2 and 18 U.S.C. Section 371, punish anyone who "aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures" commission of a crime, as well as "two or more persons [who] conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States."
Conspiracy to Bring in and Harbor Aliens. This provision of law, found at 8 U.S.C. Section 1324 provides, at subsections (a)(1)(A)(iv) and (v), that:
(A) Any person who ... (iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law; or (v) ... (I) engages in any conspiracy to commit any of the preceding acts, or (II) aids or abets the commission of any of the preceding acts,shall be punished as provided in subparagraph (B).
(B) A person who violates subparagraph (A) shall, for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs...in which the offense was done for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, be fined under title 18, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both. (Emphasis added.)
These federal criminal statutes certainly encompass the situation as it seems to have unfolded in the New York attorney general's lawsuit. What's more, because of that lawsuit, a great deal of the spadework usually required of an investigator has already been done. Such matters fall squarely into the purview of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), a division within Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which itself is a component of DHS.
So the two questions that quickly follow behind North's question about debarring Infosys are these:
First, how and why is it that HSI is absent from the scene, especially under a Trump administration that has so frequently touted jobs for Americans, and which has clearly unleashed the bindings previously imposed on enforcing our immigration laws? The answer may be partly because HSI relies in great measure on referrals from other DHS components such as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection. Absent such referrals, HSI doesn't seem to show much ambition on its own, at least where investigation of immigration benefits crimes are concerned.
The second question is why DHS itself doesn't step into such matters to demand the kind of intra-departmental coordination required among and between its immigration agency components faced with evidence that nothing is being done, particularly when confronted by a repeated and flagrant abuser of U.S. visas and immigration laws that floods the country — for profit — with tens of thousands of foreign workers. Where are the DHS strategic and policy office voices to insist that something be done and provide the leadership and direction needed?