While debated for a decade now, A section of the legal immigrant community silently suffering in the depths of despair over their helpless situation.
The current state —
Immigration has become a hot button issue for everyone in America, regardless of their political stripe, and never failed to catch our imagination.
When you look at the cannon governing the legal immigration, no denying the fact that the current broken, outed system needs an immediate overhaul.
Even though legal immigration still draws an overwhelmingly favorable view among the majority of the general public, the political class remains indifferent towards fixing any of that brokenness.
The real consequence of this outdated system is country economic and political needs largely ignored to promote the partisan agenda and priorities. And this negative impacts further amplified when the eagerness to politicize any and every immigration-related issues, and willingness to deploy as weapons to divide this nation.
History of Inaction —
Each passing terms of congress without addressing this issue, costing this country economically — and the worst part is such argument is not easy to prove, because all of them are present in the form of opportunity cost.
While such positive economic dividends get overlooked or outright ignored by the anti-immigrant camp against any overhaul, the group champions this cause is not effective in advertising merits either.
Even though it's easy to imagine the positive impacts of overhaul bring to the economic system. As usual, politics, special interest groups, and partisan priorities have been standing in the way of realizing the full benefits of bringing eligible outsiders through legal immigration.
And are they leaving most of us to wonder with the question of, What could be the long-term consequence? And even for those who already in, Why invite them in if not fully tap into their potential?
Nevertheless, this is what happening today with a section of legal immigration in the U.S. Though, in juxtaposition, immigrant communities present a stark contrast to the way of living as White Americans.
But, let's face it, whether they like it or not, from the outset, this country discourse of defining moments scripted by a pluralistic society. And the fabric of this colorful nation is stitched by immigrants of multiple generations. And, it will remain that way for a foreseeable future.
So, in the interest of everyone, sooner they come to accept that cold truth. Then, as a country, collectively take common-sense measures and turn this ailing system around to make it work for everyone.
What's the Issue —
In a way, we are still dealing with a package of the nineteenth-century leftovers. Those immigration laws implemented to promote the quota system, country cap limit, and in the name of diversity, to keep none-Europen from immigrating into the United States. In the distant past, these laws enacted with anything other than economic priorities in mind.
Without venturing into dissecting the merits of those laws, my focus is squarely on it's a long-lasting contribution to socio-economic problems and prevailing mindset towards immigration in general.
And these problems more evident in high-skilled legal immigration than anywhere else. Annually, a temporary work visa, called H1B, issued to the tune of one hundred and sixty-five thousand, as per text in the current immigration law. Though, this work visa is somewhat flexible in comparison to immigrant visas like green card visas. What making this problem is that the rules governing beneficiary are highly restricting their mobility, and more or less, put them in the modern-day indentured system of relationship with employers.
Due to this restricted mobility and among other reasons, an H1B visa is one of the most sought after by the corporations, especially in the service sectors.
The wrong side of H1B —
- Importing foreign tech-workers provide stability to corporate.
- Cost-effective because of the minimum wage threshold set in the distant past.
- The indentured workforce provides flexibility.
- Long wait time — no viable path to permanent resident status.
- Due to the uneven effect of current rules — a green card visa backlog may take decades to clear up.
If you wonder why the government has to hand over the green card as giveaways and fast track this transition. Isn't that encourage more abuse in the work visa system? The answer is" yes and no" for the following reasons.
Why need change —
First of all, these are not giveaways, as suggested by anti-immigrant groups. Each one of the applicants is eligible to receive one day in the distant future unless application denied on provable grounds.
And removing the country cap limit is not automatically increase the statutory number of visas allocated to this given category by the law.
Without leveling this playing field, while anyone waits their turn for decades, they may continuously subject to the following abuse. You can see for yourself why it's a terrible deal for citizens and other legal immigrants.
Why It's Matter —
Leaving all the economic and social arguments aside, current law governing H1B visa and green card administration is creating a two-tier system, which is in itself discrimination and, at least, against the spirit of the nation's constitution.
All the immigrants coming from nations other than India and China have fast-tracked entry into a permanent residence status through a green card visa.
On the other hand, those two populace nations presented with a complicated pathway to American dreams, thanks to the country cap and quota system codified in the law. I mean characterizing their plight as complicated is an understatement, actually impossible is the appropriate one.
Here is the host of problems that come with such an uneven and unbalanced system, and see for yourself how unfortunate these sets of immigrants are languishing in the endless green card wait line.
- Employee handcuffed to the employer — One of the most consequential and at the root of most of the problems affect legal immigrants.
- Difficult to switch jobs — Keep the wage low — zero bargaining power.
- Denied progress — In comparison to the rest of the world counterpart, they are getting the short end of the stick.
- Incapacitated dependent — Regardless of the dependent's ability, summarily denied rights to work. And, as a result, unable to contribute financially.
- Principal earner under pressure — In the absence of second income, an applicant forced to yield to all the above limitations.
- Children's aging out — Without the pathway to immigrant status, dependent children are facing the threat of aging out. After the age of 21, they no longer have the eligibility to claim as a dependent. And, lose many benefits they used to get from their parents and put them in an untenable situation.
- All around uncertainty — God forbid if a family had to face the unexpected demise of principal applicants. Then by default, all the dependants losing their legal eligibility to stay in this country - no matter how long they were in here right then.
Misplaced economic priority —
To build support around any level of an immigration overhaul, you can mount a pile of economics arguments.
Imagine the basic tenets of financial investment; it's about seeking certainty and predictably comes with safe investment and security. And both of them are inaccessible while they are in a status of limbo, almost half a million eligible none-immigrant investors forced to make decisions today, whether to postpone or give up entirely the idea of investing in house.
Increasingly, most of that temporary residence, and who wants to become a permanent residence, with uncertainty ax hanging over their head, they choose to stay away from big-ticket investments like buying the house. Instead, sending money back to their home country.
Who benefits what —
By maintaining this status quo, as always, few greedy corporations harvest the windfall and politicians lining up their pockets in return for enabling them.
And the general population will become who ends up getting a raw deal, and miss out entire economic benefits comes out of keeping those capital invested in the local community spread across this nation.
What's in work —
Nothing much. Judging by the track record of the last decade, the chance of congress getting anything done reasonably slim to none.
The subject, like immigration, has the potential to challenge the psyche of the nation. In that case, more than anything else, it requires a change in mindsets. And the current politically charged anti-immigrant sentiments do not appear to help these immigrants cause.
The fact that we are talking about one of the voiceless legal immigration communities among us and their pains not as much surfaced and forefront of the immigration debate as it does for dreamers and illegal immigrants.
No wonder, they have left to buckle up and wish something changes, in the coming years, that shake the collective consciences of the nation for a reprieve.
Some hope after all -
That said, it doesn't mean that politicians and activists alike are sitting ideally by and going through the motion. In the year 2018 and 2019, we have seen myriad of actions from politicians, who are having conscience as a guide, has taken up this issue and shown willingness to fight for these causes during this polarised time.
Even though some of the proposed bills are currently in senate consideration, they represent nothing more than half-measures. It merely reflects the political reality, and the needed compromise necessary, to help strike a balance to satisfy all parties.
Bills like S.386 — Fairness for high-skilled Immigrant Act, having a hard time to square with unstoppable partisan priorities and timely orchestrated objections from some immigration communities.
Despite having bipartisan support for some of those bills, it will not pass the muster and manage to survive through the legislative process and become law anytime soon.
Final thoughts —
Any way you slice it, a multitude of the economic and moral arguments exist to support and justify any legal fix to correct this wrong. Next time when you consider this subject, have some empathy for this community and children's plight.
While debate raging for a decade now, a section of the legal immigration community reeling and silently suffering in the depths of despair over their helpless situation.
I am having a separate column to cover the up to date status on S.386 in Senate, until the end of this present congress in 2020.
Here is the link