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Should Indian Americans trust Biden on immigration?

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Kiran
Author is a Researcher in Geo politics, current affairs, History and Law at Center for South Asian and Empirical Research.

Sometimes, history provides abundant information on assessing the current situation and as we are getting close to elections 2020 in next few weeks, it is important for Indian Americans to look back and think how the past decade has impacted the most, in terms of Indian American perspective. It is quite important to note that immigration is one hot topic that the Biden campaign has highlighted in the Indian American Agenda which is pompous about the future plan on immigration for STEM and high skilled workers in the United States. During a campaign event earlier, to woo Indian Americans, Biden hailed Indian American for their exemplary contribution to US economy but ignored the underlying fact on the broken immigration system which he could have revived during Obama’s administration as a number two between 20018 till 2016.

Indian Workers Miserable Plight

As, the election crunch is nearing, It is quite important to remind ourselves on how the broken immigration has caused sleepless nights to thousands of indian immigrant workers who came to the United States due to work and happened to stay for years and especially during the Obama administration has caused the non immigrant H1B holders or L1 visa holders a miserable plight due to the rules set by the Obama administration. The immigration rules changed during Obama’s presidency made the H1 B holders declare the relationship between employee and employer. Although the rule looks quite transparent, it impacted  thousands of H1 B visa holders who work for staffing agencies, and they normally place the employee to their customers for various software and programming jobs.

Despite the fact that these staffing agencies provide the required employee and employer relation document, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as per the directive from the Obama administration often rejected the genuine letters when the employee seeks for a renewal of visa or visa stamping at the US consulate offices. The interesting aspect here is, the end customer company due to its HR regulations cannot provide a letter of support to the employee and that makes it even tougher for the H1 B holder to defend the workplace location. Thus, 95% of time the employee is either rejected when the renewal is made or rejected at the Visa interview.

H1B A bonded Labor Visa?

USCIS 2010 mandatory rule to provide evidence of Employer and Employee relationship Picture Courtesy: OPTnation

One more aspect of the miserable plight is that these H1 B holders have become bonded labor in the United States, while the companies were able to provide the salaries, the immigration department often limits the visa to as low as two months and sometimes even one month when the renewal is made or visa is issued. This type of harassment to the H1B holders were quite rampant during the Obama administration and many H1 B visa holders were unable to buy a home nor a car. The pathetic aspect during the Obama administration was, the visa holder’s family was deeply impacted and in fact, the kids had to abruptly end their schooling and go back to India within a span of two weeks.  Thousands of the H1 B visa holders had to abruptly leave their belongings which they dearly bought for their livelihood. The unexpected visa rejection and renewal also had an impact on economics of the visa holders as most of the families opt for 401K plan and the abrupt ending of employment has an impact. Ultimately, the dejected visa holder had to pack up and leave in a two week span.

US VISA

Apart from this, the hiring companies were limited to take H1 B holders and filtered out when the job seeker is expecting a visa sponsor or were asked if there is an active H1 B visa. Thus, it was a chicken and egg situation for the job seeker or a dependent visa holder who wanted to apply for a new work visa. The new regulations were rampant during the Obama administration and nothing was done to clear the situation of the visa holders plight. The visa holders had to undergo a severe physiological stress during the Obama administration. 

During the Indian Prime Minister ManMohan Singh’s visit to Washington DC in 2013 on a bilateral meet, Indian companies had a lot of hope on the outcome of the meeting. Although, Prime Minister Singh had expressed concerns about the changes made in the immigration laws and the restrictions on the movement of services could drastically impact the Indian diaspora. Despite the concerns raised, very little to negligible changes were made on the immigration laws that hardly have any effect on the gloomy plight of Indian H1B workers.

Biden’s Indian American Agenda echo 2012 election promise

As we look at the pretentious Indian American Agenda by Biden Campaign, it highlights the inept and inability of the same Obama-Biden administration on immigration policy. The agenda talks about reforming the immigration policy but undermines  the 2012 election town hall event between Obama and Mitt Roney, President Obama categorically mentioned that he will reform the immigration soon he takes his second term. Millions of immigrant visa holders of Asian and Indian community have voted for Democratic party but the immigration policy was never reformed. In fact, there was hardly any discussion from White House on the immigration policy. So, should we trust again on the inept person who was number two in the previous Democratic Party Government? 

GOP on Indian Americans

While, Indian Americans were immensely benefited during the GOP led Governments in the past. During the year 2005, and aftermath of 9/11, The Bush administration has granted a special 20,000 H1B quota for STEM students who have passed out from various US universities. The Bush administration not only favored the Indian STEM students but also extended the Optional practical training from one year to two years. So, the STEM student is able to find a better job and settle down in the United States. This has extended the possibility of Indian students to immensely benefit to lead a comfortable life to enjoy an American dream.

The Bush administration not only helped STEM students but also agreed to make the Green card dates current in the year 2006. Thus, thousands of Indian families who were on a visa were able to get Green cards and enjoyed a stable, sustained  life in the United States. While we know that President Trump has laid out a plan for Legal immigration based on merit based with points which could benefit Indian visa holders exceptionally and that could reverberate Pro America and Pro immigrant. Currently, the United States immigration policy has never been updated in the past 50 years and is an outdated policy.

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Kiran
Author is a Researcher in Geo politics, current affairs, History and Law at Center for South Asian and Empirical Research.
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