US Immigration: I don’t get it!

Part 1 of a look at US immigration vs UK’s immigration because the latter are clear about what they want. US seems to be wasting its time and resources on meaningless rules instead of putting them to good use. And in the process, it is depriving its immigrant population of their human rights. An American once told me that if I am looking for ethical treatment I should just leave the US- is that America’s message to the rest of the world? 

Below is a transcript to the video:

The NY NJ bombing- I am sure everyone has their own opinion on the event and the suspect who is in custody. Reading about his background what most affected me was a report that alleged that the suspect’s father was opposed to his son’s “Americanization”. Now, this family was admitted as refugees and granted US citizenship by the government. So what I don’t understand is that how can one want to be an American, then become an American and resent being Americanized?

Clearly, the system is not working and the plethora of rules that are in place are either not enough, or as I feel, are excessive and ineffective. But I’m not here to point fingers, I just want to understand why all of this has made my life so painfully complicated. When I say ‘my life’ I am not literally talking about myself but about many others like me who are trying to legally immigrate to the US and are not opposed to being Americanized, in case we aren’t already.

I will not repeat the platitudes about US and immigrants. Despite its history, a country has the right to be for or against immigration. It is plainly obvious to me that the US is against immigration but why don’t they make rules that clearly send that message escapes me. I think it is fair to say that the US and the UK are two countries at par with each other, and since the Brexit vote it won’t be entirely unfair to say that the British don’t want immigrants. And yet, their rules are more straightforward and, more importantly, more humane than those of US immigration. I want to compare some of these rules to highlight not just how it is making lives complicated for those us who want to do the right thing, but also how the US government is wasting its budget on redundant and bogged down procedures instead of using it for border protection.

I don’t have any stats but speaking strictly from experience, most immigrants come to the US as students. Granted, a student visa is not an immigrant intent visa- that is to say that when you come here as a student, you don’t intend to settle down. You plan to get your education and go back to your country. But that is not always true. When I came here as a student, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to stay or go back. Anyway, when you come as a student you don’t get exposed to the normal life, so to speak, and it is not then that one decides whether he/she wants to stay or leave. Now in the UK, a student has only 3 months after graduation to find employment or leave the country. Additionally, if they find a job, they convert to a work visa, a Tier 2 visa. But in the US, a student can get up to 3 years for “optional practical training” after graduation and during this time they are still on a student visa. Essentially, you have 3 full years to not just start a job but to start a life without even getting a work visa. Now in those 3 years one can definitely decide that they want to settle down here.

From the government’s point of view, if you know a student visa is your biggest source of immigration, why wouldn’t you cap it? Or take away the option of letting people stay on for 3 additional years after graduation. Forget the impact it will have on the volume of people coming in, but can you imagine the time it will free up when the officers don’t have to review all this extra paperwork? This is exactly the kind of disconnect that I don’t understand- saying one thing and then going out and doing something completely different.

The next thing I don’t understand- why is a migrant worker owned by an employer? In the UK, the employer issues a certificate of sponsorship which the applicant takes to the government, along with other documents, and applies for a work visa for himself or herself. Not the case here in the US; here, the employer applies for the worker. Now I fully support the idea of job advertisement and salary verification. The government must ensure that its citizens are not at any disadvantage. So the employer must advertise the said position and prove that it interviewed domestic as well as foreign candidates but picked a foreign candidate because he or she was a better fit. They should also prove that they will pay this person the same salary and benefits that they would have paid a citizen. But the employer’s role should end there. After this the person should be free to take these documents supplied by the employer and apply for a work visa independently.

Because what happens in the US is that since the employer owns a person’s visa they can withdraw it at any time, without any notice, without any discussion. So let’s say that if my employer terminates me today, the government expects me to leave the country tomorrow. What if I have a home, well, I can abandon it for all they care. If I have kids in school, too bad, they just have to drop out and repeat the year elsewhere. In the UK, if an employer terminates the employment, they notify the government who then review the case and give the person 60 days to either find new employment or leave the country. And note that the 60 days don’t start from the time the person was let go but from the time the government reaches a decision.

So then does the US hate its tax paying immigrants so very much that it will turn them into an employer’s property and leave them open to harassment and abuse? Or does the government think that employers are the epitome of morality and would never abuse this power? Because seriously, it can happen to a migrant worker that he or she walks into his manager’s office and the manager says undress for me or I will fire you. Perhaps the government thinks that we should walk around with wires on our person all the time because how else can we prove what is said to us behind closed doors? And we are obviously not given any time to say our side if an employer decides to abruptly terminate us. Manager’s word is final, notice period is not mandatory and the employer does not have the burden to prove why they revoked a visa prior to its expiry date.

Trust me, if a terrorist wanted to enter the US, he or she will definitely not follow this route. But in its misplaced efforts to tighten its grip on immigrants, the government has wrongfully turned the lot of us into economic slaves. Being owned by an employer does nothing to ensure that the person will not commit any crimes. So what is the point of this rule?

To conclude this part, if the US does in fact want to put an end to immigration, it needs to start at the source. Exploiting migrant workers is not the way to go about it. We are the hard working, tax paying, honest lot. In the next part, I would like to look at other aspects of immigration and continue the discussion whether these rules are more disruptive or beneficial.

One thought on “US Immigration: I don’t get it!

  1. I’m so sorry for the late reply here, but this was exceptionally good with well made points. I want to watch it again tomorrow to share some thoughts, but wanted to at least tell you that you did a great job Pratyusha. I will look forward to the next edition!


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