Sunday, April 02, 2006

H1B Immigration Issues

H1B immigration is one area where America should increase the limit for her benefit as well as of India. Senate is okay for this increase, but House has not put any comparable bill and many in House are in no mood to do anything here. Many Democrats from House are against too (prominent one from Southern California). With Immigration issue consuming so much energy, I guess protagonist in House will hold their line about H1B and will negate any increase there to compensate for the proposed increase on guest workers. In nut shell, the way American politics work; Congress may limit H1B (the ones which are fundamentally useful to America) as a price for increased Guest Worker Program and Amnesty for illegal migrants! Obviously, more votes are play in the latter case, the voice of Hispanic block is quite strong, Roman Catholic Church is behind and so on. In other words stars are aligned for that kind of measure and limiting the increase in H1B could be the sacrifice. It should not happen that way.

Truth is America must have good immigration policy which welcomes labors of all types and from all countries. Some form of amnesty for the current illegal workers in America is needed and America needs to open arms for all the hard working Hispanic workers. It is just that H1B labor also should be welcome and the limit should be increased.

America does not have future unless it welcomes immigrants of all hues. The reason America can avoid the fate of Europe (declining population and hence declining economic and political clout on the world stage) is due to increase in population by way of immigration. There is no escape from having strong pro immigration policy here.

Daniel Sneider raises some interesting questions about kind of immigration policies to be avoided looking around the world. He sites the case of Singapore which has policies similar to those in Middle East countries. Essentially such policies welcome the foreign workers but never assimilate the new labor. Daniel Sneider is right to point out that such non-assimilation of immigrant workers is bad in the medium to long term. So far America has avoided that problem. But McCain - Kennedy immigration bill creates the quota of 400K guest workers and sets the stage for such non-assimilation. That is the negative of this bill. However, in absence of any other encouraging bill, this bill a better shot and it allows a process of amnesty for the current illegal workers. What one understands is if America wants to avoid the pitfalls of ‘second class, non voting immigrant workers’; then it needs to really have better and more democratic immigration policy; the policy which has clear, achievable and realistic paths of becoming citizens of this country. McCain – Kennedy bill is only a start and not very encouraging on that account. It is also bad that it does not she much light as far as H1B immigration is concerned.

Umesh Patil
San Jose, CA 95111
April 2, 2006.

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