Thursday, May 17, 2007

Immigration Bill 2007

Congress and White House have reached a tentative agreement on Immigration Bill 2007 sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy. It is ‘tentative’ as some Republicans would emphasize and indeed it will be premature to celebrate the bill. One only has to look at Indo-USA Nuclear deal to understand how things can derail in politics even after a promising start.

All said and done, it is a good milestone. Not often one would get chance to praise this President. But if he indeed delivers those 70 votes which Speaker Pelosi is asking, presumably from GOP House members, that will be the reason to praise and salute this President, notwithstanding all round failure of his administration in many other important matters.

If this bill becomes the law, it will be a fitting achievement for the old liberal lion Sen. Kennedy. As like any good Liberal, he is spending all his energies in persuading extreme Left while constantly negotiating with moderate GOP members. Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Feinstein are right when they say ‘it is not a perfect bill, but good enough to move on’.

Constructive contributions from GOP side are from likes of Sen. Kyl, Sen. Martinez and Sen. Lindsey Graham. There will not be any sane American who will want Immigration bill without bipartisan support. Immigration is that core issue which affects people’s daily life, it resonates with so many immigrants who have traveled along that path, as Sen. Graham puts it – it defines America and going forward it is the key in the Global Economy. Hence it got to be a bipartisan bill, no matter what. This means if Dems have to compromise and give up many of their Immigration policy goals due to insistence of GOP lawmakers; so be the case. Gains from bipartisan support are far more important than many compromises Dems and Liberals would have to accept at this stage.

Legalization of current 1.2 million illegal residents, guest worker program of 400,000 immigrants per year (primarily geared towards agricultural and other jobs), focus on migration of skilled and highly educated workers (point based system), restrictions on migration of extended family members and increased border security; these are the main aspects of this bill.

It is expected that this will not have any impact on the 65,000 per year H1B program and proposed increase in that quota will be independent of this bill. The only impact on H1B based migrants will be how they can become citizens. It may become harder than what it is now. But this in itself is not a sufficient reason for Editors at Times of India to get worked up and indirectly take a divisive tack at all of this debate. (
There is no bias against Indians in this Immigration Bill or in general immigration policy. Mexico is indeed a special country to America compared to India. One has to keep in mind that so many states in American Union have come from Mexico – either by force or by purchase. Historical linkages and obligations, political interdependence; all these things are in play along with the security considerations. So it is childish to ignore this valid reality and complain about why America does not treat Indian at par with Hispanics when it comes to Immigration. As for the future, skilled and highly educated migrants from any corners of the world are important to USA, or for that matter to any advanced economy. If more Indians happened to take advantage of that and come in large numbers to USA, that is welcome.

To each sovereign country, every other country measures in different respects. Mexico is critical to USA when it comes to Immigration. Canada is critical to USA when it comes to Energy supply. One has to note that it is not Mexico with which USA wants any kind of Nuclear Deal. It is India. One can not forget the geopolitical motivations for America to engage into any kind of Nuclear deal with India. To engage on geopolitical considerations with each country is the whole essence of sovereignty.

It is all fair for Indian Trade Minister to enquire about questioning undertaken by two Senators regarding H1B visa practices of Indian IT companies. Trade negotiations are all about that. But just because two Senators questioned Indian IT companies about some American laws it is no reason to get ‘red face’ for Indian officials. American Senators are elected to pursue matters related to implementation of American laws. It is in the Constitution. Otherwise why are there public Senate hearings where American AG also has to appear or American CEOs also have to appear? Just because Indian Parliament Members did not bother about MNCs (as like in Dhabol Enron mess or Union Carbide in Bhopal tragedy); it does not mean American Senators also abdicate their responsibility. Asking questions, seeking information and being vigilant, even with political motivation; it is all part of the job for elected representatives. Elected representatives got to have the political motivations, else how would they act? We should be happy that there are at least few lawmakers in the world who want to do their job (at least occasionally) and not all of them slump into a lumber!

It will be much useful for Indian elite to get used to work within International System and not just throw around ‘their political weight’ everywhere. There are so many avenues of international economic policy matters where India can use her newly gained economic power in much more productive manner.

Meanwhile, all Americans hope that Congress keeps on doing its good work about the Immigration bill, passes necessary laws and executes on those policies.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
May 17, 2007.

1 comment:

Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus