Within weeks, Ms. Jalakam, who has a degree in biotechnology, landed a job as an analyst at an insurance company. The next year, she and her husband, Vinay Kumar, a software engineer, bought a house. In 2017, the finances of the Indian immigrant couple were secure enough that they decided to have a second child.
All that planning, though, is in jeopardy. Ms. Jalakam and thousands of other spouses of skilled workers have been told that their special work permits — authorization that can mean the difference between struggling and thriving in their adopted homeland — are likely to be revoked.
Well, this sounds very sad. I would not want anyone to struggle when they could thrive instead. As you’ll see, however, not everybody has the same definition of “struggle” or “thrive”.
The Times is very upset about the idea that an Obama program allowing the spouses of H1-B workers to obtain employment of their own is likely to be discontinued. As is usual for this particular rag, they’ve managed to find a couple of likeable outliers:
Lakshmi Vishnubhotla, who has worked for 10 years as a teacher in Marion County, S.C., is currently sponsored for an H-1B by the school district. He was named teacher of the year for the district in 2015-16…. Jigar Madlani, a software engineer in Parsippany, N.J., came on an H-1B and hisgreen card was approved in 2013. But none of the family’s cards have been issued, and he fears his wife, Heta, will soon lose her ability to work…
Armed with an H-4EAD permit, she was hired in late 2015 as a case manager for New Jersey’s 211 line, handling calls from drug addicts, homeless families, victims of domestic violence and others in crisis seeking help.
So there you have it! The H1-B program and the H-4EAD chain-migration-employment program really just exists to put teachers in schools and public servants on a phone helpline! How could anybody be against this?
Turns out that the H1-B program has two fascinating impacts that are rarely, if ever, reported in the popular media. Not only are H1-B applicants paid more than American workers for the same job, the existence of the H1-B program has led to wage stagnation or reduction over the past twenty years in professions where H1-B workers are common.
Guess who suffers most? African-Americans, who make up 9.7% of computer-science graduates in the United States but get just two percent of the jobs. This in no way surprises me. At my last tech gig, about 350 of the 500 people on my floor were Indian men. About twenty were Indian women, and about ten were white women. There was not a single black man or woman on the floor. Period, point blank.
It’s disgusting, really. We tell inner-city black kids that if they LEARN TO CODE! they can make it into the middle class. They actually listen, and they actually do it. And when they get out of their degree programs, they are passed over in favors of overseas employees whose degrees are often entirely fake. If that’s not a broken system, I don’t know what is.
Back to the Jalakam-Kumar family, over whose fortunes the Times is wringing its hands.
Now that she has a well-paying job, Ms. Jalakam’s main fear is losing it. She was pregnant with their second child when the administration announced plans to rescind the work authorizations. She began fretting about how they would afford their $4,800 monthly mortgage.
Four thousand. And eight hundred. Dollars. Every month. That’s a $1.2 million mortgage if you don’t have a penny of down payment. Here in Ohio, that would get you a house with a moat and possibly an airstrip — but even in the Jalakam-Kumar’s California neighborhood, it’s sufficient for a 3,500-square-foot new build with a fucking turret, as pictured above.
Without H1-B, that house goes to an American family. Maybe even a black American family with tech degrees from an American college. The hypocrisy of it beggars belief. Those California tech companies might talk a good game about diversity and people of color and whatnot, but when the chips are down they forget about that shit and instead put foreigners in a position to own million-dollar homes.
There’s actually a bit of irony if you look at it historically. Four hundred years ago, Britain was infested with “nabobs” — Englishmen who made fortunes by exploiting India’s resources and its people. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Tech-educated American workers, including people of color, have to work foodservice or retail jobs that don’t even let them stay current on their loans. Meanwhile, the new nabobs buy McMansions and live the American dream.
If you brought any of these concerns up to the writers at the Times, they would call you a racist, even though it is disproportionately African-Americans who are impacted by H1-B. They would tell you that “the world is flat” and that America should have no borders. The fact that everybody from Japan to Switzerland to Israel has tightly guarded and patrolled borders, to say nothing of a distinct aversion to granting so much as a short-term foreign work permit, does not bother them in the slightest.
This state of affairs cannot continue. Something has got to give. Something is going to happen. And when it happens, I don’t think that anybody is going to be in a position to make a $4,800 mortgage payment. Not you, not me, not the bright kids from Howard University and elsewhere clutching fresh degrees. Not even the Jalakam-Kumars. Yet if the proverbial balloon really does go up in this country, I have to wonder: Will the rest of the world be willing to take us in, as refugees or workers or householders? Will we find that the borders to Canada or Switzerland or China are as open and porous as ours once were? Or will we find out, once and for all, just how stupid we were to give away our country, and how stupid we would have to be in order to expect anybody else to do the same thing for us?