Even before Trump’s immigration policies were announced there was an unease among the Indian-Americans over Trump’s hawkish ‘America first’ policy and his plans to renegotiate all trade treaties and those with India too.
Let us specifically see how Trump’s immigration policy would affect India because immigration restrictions are the main source of India’s vulnerability.
Trump calls the H1B Visa programme as unfair and says that the influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans to earn a middle class wage.
Trump’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller proposed scrapping the existing lottery system used to award the visas and a possible replacement system would favour visa petitions for jobs that pay the highest salaries.
As a first stepincrease inthe prevailing wage for H-1B by doubling the minimum salary of H1B visa holders to $130,000and requiringemployers to recruit American workers first before hiring foreign ones will hurt India.
- The U.S. government awards 65,000 regular H-1B visas every year, which are allocated by lottery and a sizable number of them go to the technology sector.
- Many tech companies in Silicon Valley tend to hire Indians in technical roles either directly or through outsourcing firms such as Indian software company Infosys, TCS etc.
- The reforms may force TCS, Infosys and Wipro to make fundamental changes in their business strategies, including hiring more American workers and raising salaries they pay to employees working on client sites in the USwhile cutting down employment of Indians and also reducing their profitability by as much as 300basis points.
- If there is a curb on hiring Indian nationals in the US because of reforms to the H-1B program, it could also affect remittances from the U.S. (World Bank data showed the U.S. was the second largest source of remittance for India in 2015.)
Fear of Deportation
- Nearly 300,000 Indian-Americans are likely to be impacted by the Donald Trump administration’s sweeping plans that put the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.
- Indian-Americans as per unofficial figures account for nearly 300,000 illegal aliens who may have overstayed their Visa period.
- Trump’s administration issued a new memo giving Department of homeland security (DHS) personnel full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officer has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws.
- It abolished the Obama-administration catch-and-release procedure.
“Catch and release” came in to practice because the government had nowhere to hold detainees waiting for immigration decisions.Trump administration through a memo also asked to expand detention facilities and build centers big enough, or find enough room in jails.
No Judge Requirement
In 2002 Congress passed a law allowing the government to quickly deport undocumented immigrants who have not been in the United States very long, without allowing them go before a judge. But the government used this process, called “expedited removal,” relatively narrowly because of concerns about whether it violates constitutional rights of due process that are granted to anyone in the United States, regardless of immigration status.
The Trump administration is now planning to use expedited removal as extensively as the original law allows, saying that limits on its use had contributed to a backlog of more than half a million cases in immigration court.
- Creating a deportation force to target immigrant families is not a show of strength. And telling cities to deny public safety, education, and health services to kids and families is irresponsible and cruel.
- Immigrants would report fewer crimes, more families will live in fear, and the local economies would suffer.
- As a world superpower it is US’s moral responsibility to provide a sanctuary to all who need it most.
The Trump order specifically excluded “DREAMers” — people brought to America illegally as children — from threat of deportation, effectively continuing President Barack Obama’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) exception.
Trump’s call for Merit-based Programme
- It’s basedon the point systems of the immigration laws of Canada and Australia. Immigrants who have incomes and education levels that is above average, not below average are welcomed.
- It requires E-Verify for job applicants and establishing a visa-tracking system to move farther toward a more highly skilled (and legally sanctioned) immigrant population.
- It’s political code for changing the composition of people settling in America to favour educated, highly skilled immigrants and reduce family-based immigration, which allows US citizens and permanent residents to bring certain family members to settle permanently in the US.
- Reforming the immigration system to be more “merit-based” is predicated on the idea that some of these slots are going to the wrong immigrants — immigrants who don’t have as much to give the US as the US has to give them.
- It is to make sure that the US wouldn’t miss the opportunity to attract as many of “the best and the brightest” as possible. It is like their country could use more of Einsteins.
- But the overarching goal is to reduce immigration and improve assimilation. These people are worried about family-based “chain migration” providing a continuous inflow of immigrants to the US.
India needs to view longer term and devise a foreign policy framework that fully utilises India’s manpower advantages while negotiating with US, and should help our diaspora. Americancompanies try to leverage the size of our market by investing here; trade can’t be one-way traffic. In this regard India should concentrate its diplomatic efforts in getting General Agreement on Trade in Services passed, which will allow the travel of Indian employees freely could go long way. Indian diaspora has facilitated rapid growth in the US’s technological capabilities through Indian innovation now they don’t deserve to be shunted out like this.
- What are the economic implications of tighter H1B regime? Could it prove to be blessing in disguise for India or a nightmare? Comment.
- How should India engage Trump’s administration so that we could utilize India’s manpower Advantages?