Thursday, July 19, 2007

USCIS volte-face: the real reason

As many of you might know the USCIS did a volte-face and reversed its July 2 visa bulletin.  It has now announced that the Visa bulletin released on June 15 will be valid and that it will be accepting applications for AOS till August 17th.  News media reported that the Gandhigiri act staged by Indian programmers worked its magic on the US administration.  My guess is that the threat of a class-action lawsuit worked.  In the US you have to sue first, and then things will get done.

Legal immigrants have been silent taxpayers and their voice has never been heard by the administration so far. Somehow, the people who jump the wall and dig a tunnel are heard better than the ones who write software and cure heart ailments, just because the former's numbers are larger.  let me clarify that i have nothing against Mexicans.  i have seen many of them at work and I believe that they are a very hard working group of people.  However, rules are rules.

The administration decided to make all priority dates current as the comprehensive immigration reform bill was on the floor of the senate.  This was done only to assuage the feelings of the legal immigrants who often wait decades in a line to get their citizenship.  The CIRB would have granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants and fearing backlash from the legal immigrant community, the administration pushed the dates.  However, the good times did not last long.  As soon as the bill failed to  get an approval from the senate, the administration pulled back the dates, as the woes of the legal immigrants meant nothing now.  However, they underestimated the response of this community, and I believe that justice has been served eventually.

My adviser once remarked that I should have probably jumped the wall instead of coming here for a PhD.  Well, I am not really bothered about getting a green card. All i want is a right to work for as long as I want.  In my opinion that is good enough.  why should the intent to immigrate be tied to a job.  Why should an employee lose his/her position in the line, when they switch jobs?  Why should the system hold up someone in their career because they ave filed an application to immigrate to the US? Isn't it against the core principle of capitalism -  that capital should flow to the place where it achieves highest returns?  By restricting labor capital from looking for better jobs, the current policy is acting inefficiently.  It is only beneficial to everyone that the administration changes its rules so that employees rather than the employers file for immigration applications directly - and the government restricts its role to processing these applications rather than imposing constraints on job-movements.

It is the conundrum faced by the US that leads to the current problems in the immigration policies.  US allows 60,000 work visa every year and almost 40,000 of these visas go to Indians, by some estimates.  Assuming that at least half of them file for immigration, there are 20,000 applications for 10,000 green cards allotted every year (each country gets only a maximum of 10k green cards in a calendar year).  I have not added the students of Indian origin who complete their education in the US and join the labor force each year only yo eventually apply for a green card.  the line just keeps getting longer every year.

Unless, the administration clean up its act and changes its policy towards certain countries that are more capable of generating more number of talented people who are wanted in the US, there is no way of shortening the line.Till then, bhailog , lage raho .. munnabhia style.


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