A letter to US Citizens from a Legal Immigrant.
This story is the outcome of a conversation that I had with a legal immigrant from India who had to wait a very, very long time before a green card number was finally allotted to him and his family. The green card number is an artificially capped number mandated by Congress which rightfully wants to control the inflow of immigrants. However, the Immigration laws are the most complex laws in the nation and the interpretation of those by subsequent administrations only added to the complexity. Which ultimately affects the immigrants in the manner of which they are chosen to be allotted these numbers to their families. If the above lines sounds convoluted, it is because they really are! This has resulted in a million plus legal immigrants waiting in a very long green card legal permanent residency line. Nothing was done from Obama administration or anyone else in the past. Rampant indifference means a recent immigrant from Europe will get his green card sooner while the ones from China, India or Mexico will have to wait for decades before they are even in the stage that they could get one.
Are the solutions simple? Pretty much yes. These are English speaking, legal immigrants who studied here, worked here for 10+ years that makes them eligible for SSA security benefits and so on, and a whole host of factors that makes them Americans but on paper. There is a slew of measures that needs to be taken to untangle the legal immigration mess. Most of them are easy to implement too.
The only holdout is: FEAR.
Fear is a big motivator. It can make you inactive in times where you need to stand up. It can spur you to action in wrong direction. In the age of fake news, misinformation spread everywhere and there are hateful, racist organizations such as Center for Immigration Reforms and FAIR and similar bigoted institutions who are the very constructors of institutional racism. They publish “papers”, research “situations” and come up with “facts and numbers”. They make it all sound legit backed by millions of dollars and often very few wealthy individuals who are doing the hit jobs for the wealthier above.
This story was from this legal immigrant who studied all these different aspects, spoke to few of them and came to this letter which I now pen.
The main points that we discussed were:
Fear of Economy
Everyone wants money in this world to live. This is a basis for insecurity and fear. What happens if the cash flow suddenly stops tomorrow? Who would be responsible for it? Who to blame for this? Recent stories about citizens who got fired from Disney or various utility companies highlight how the big corporate companies shrewdly manipulated the whole situation so that the blame game and lawsuits were shifted from them- who actually made the decisions to fire citizens and hire immigrants — to companies who are essentially their business partners! Often times the higher the corporate ladder goes, the higher the bonus figures of those who sit at the top who want the rewards with as less risk as possible. They hire consultants — both american and indian and other global ones who take the risks to themselves, reduce the costs and generally are front line to shield the parent firm from any negative aspects. Most likely the said employees who got fired were beneficiary of this system and were complicit and quite in it till the day they got fired. In fact, had they got promoted they would have been the first to get more immigrants in. More so, in most instances, the IT sector itself has gone towards the automation and the fact of the matter is that most work can be done remotely, offshore, can be outsourced as well as not something that is very hard. A good number of jobs are essentially button clicks. These include the maintenance of tools across anything that is not actual programming. Many folks are in this position and think that they are entitled to a 100k+ job just for clicking the right button. Guess what? No one is countering you on that thought of yours. Not immigrant or anyone else in the world. Except your own Boss. The management often thinks that most of IT should be bought from outside and the only hires should be folks who will be essentially button clickers and someone that is easily replaceable with minimal amount of training. This is nothing new. This has been happening for ages now. Before computing or IT or really in any era this was the norm.
Firing is not the byproduct of globalization or Immigration
If anything immigration has helped soften the blow of firing. Time was when people used to get fired as soon as the work that was expected to be delivered was done. Even early days of IT used to follow this model. Contracts were strict and not fluid as in these days. Full time was another form of contract as it is today. Without the free food and additional perks. Firing used to always happen. And will continue to happen. Capitalism was more strict earlier while it is more considerate these days due to stricter labor laws which makes it tougher to just “hire and fire” as you must have heard some lame managers from dinosaurs era boast about in the past. Accountability is always the norm and button clickers everywhere — whether here in the USA or to the outsourced destinations in Vietnam, India, China, Mexico or Philippines or Germany or France or elsewhere. Globalization aside, there is very little value for people in IT who essentially cost 100k+ for something a bot would do for $10k annual contract in hardware. That is management decision. And not on immigrants or the IT services companies. The friendly politicians, by their very definitions, will only say and enact lip service laws which will get them by for today, tomorrow, next two years, 4 years or maximum 8 years. So first stop blaming immigrants for button clickers or stop making excuses for the short-sightedness of your own management. If not the immigrants there are plenty of other ways they could control the american workers. So you are just on the wrong side of the battle. Rather empower the immigrants. A strong middle class with a large number in the USA is the best outcome for capitalism, citizens as well as the immigrants. Not only here in the USA but also in rest of the countries.
Automation will only increase
I do not need to expand on this more but any story out there and a ton in Medium in fact will only tell how automation is here to stay as a business model. A bigger threat than immigrants is the automation, bots, AI and a host of other things that are essentially under construction. There is absolutely nothing to blame here but maybe the computers themselves.
And so will outsourcing and offshoring
This has been happening for decades now. Almost all of the US Fortune 500 or Global 2000 firms outsource and offshore their work. Disney is in movie making business and then extending the movie experience to theme parks and merchandise. And other forms of entertainment. That is what they do. Not IT. Which they give to IBM, Accenture, TCS and so on. Nothing wrong. The problem is only when few people get removed from this pie sharing. A few are legit cases, a few are result of management greed. But if you look at it holistically, Disney, just like every other big firm in current America, makes a big chunk of revenue which is often more than 50% of their net from outside USA. Asia and Europe are a big part of it. In fact Europe always had trans-american or anglo-saxon firms and economic ties. How come no one raised a voice then ? A lot of American jobs are shipped to Germany and UK. France does a heavy amount of outsourcing and offshoring work. Not a word in the media regarding all that. Anyways, there is a whole complex gamut of issues which cannot be addressed now.
This set of activities are here to stay. No matter who is in the administration or Congress or any policy making organizations, these tools would be used. The only thing that can be done is to make sure these tools are not abused. That the immigration laws are not abused and reformed for the better of all — citizens as well as immigrants.
In this chaos, there are voices from all sides. There is very less time to think critically and calmly. Judgments and conclusions are easily formed and goes viral even before the other side is allowed to speak. Wrong people testify and prepare laws — the above mentioned racist organizations or lobbyists sponsored by certain rich corporations and lawyers while the voiceless often get hurt. The voiceless are often closer to the average republican voter or average democratic voter. Immigration is still seen as a good thing in the America. However the policies that are made into laws, the speed with which these are implemented are often not reflecting these saner thoughts.