DISCLAIMER: This post doesn’t have anything to do with careers or searching for a job, it’s simply something I wrote because it’s an important topic worth consideration.
Here we are in the heart of the Presidential election and once again immigration reform is one of a handful of divisive topics. Trump wants to build a wall, Hillary wants to fast track a path to citizenship. It’s the usual polarized and partisan politics designed to cater to the extremes.
The millions of undocumented immigrants pouring over our southern border are being exploited. They work tirelessly for meager wages in the fields and slaughterhouses to make a better life for their families. They do this because as bad as conditions are for them in the US, the conditions at home are worse. They are also certainly draining our limited resources. Not because they are lazy, but because our current politics and policies keep them in the margins of society. It’s OUR fault they are crowding our emergency rooms and free clinics for healthcare. It’s OUR fault their children do not have access to educational opportunities.
They’re here, and they will continue to come here because the worst conditions here are better than in the slums of Guatemala City. Is their desire for freedom any different from those who landed on Plymouth Rock? Lest we forget unless you are of direct Native American descent, you are an immigrant.
However, immigration reform isn’t just about low-wage workers.
In technology, engineering, and other highly skilled, highly compensated jobs there is a temporary worker visa program called H1b. If you’re not familiar with H1b, boiled down to it’s essence you need to hold a Bachelor’s degree in a particular discipline from your home country to apply, and you must be “sponsored” by a company in the US.
Every year 250,000 people apply for the 65,000 available visas. It’s a pure lottery system so when you apply you have a 1 in 3 chance of getting the visa. It’s a system ripe with corruption and difficult for visa holders to be provided opportunity equal to a permanent resident or citizen.
If you’re lucky enough to be issued an H1b in April of 2017 and your country of origin is India your current wait for a Green Card is approximately a decade. We are spending tens of millions of dollars attracting young people into STEM careers while at the same time making an individual wait ten years to become a permanent resident when they already have a degree and experience.
Jokers on the left say immigrants from the south are taking jobs Americans don’t want. Clowns to the right brand non-documented immigrants “illegal” ascribing them criminals. Both sides have put so much red tape in place it’s exceptionally complicated and difficult to become a tax-paying, productive resident.
What neither side seems to remember is we are a nation of immigrants founded on principles that apply to everyone, not just those lucky enough to be born within our borders.
In colonial times you didn’t need to fill out a mountain of government forms to live in America, you just needed to get here and you were welcome to stay. At the turn of the 20th century people boarded large ships, some with nothing other than the clothes on their back and a few dollars in their pocket, and came through Ellis Island. Toward the end of the century good people risked their lives in the 90 shark-infested miles between Cuba and Key West to flee Castro’s oppression.
While you’re reading this good people are risking their lives in the deserts of the Southwest fleeing economic oppression for a shot at the American Dream. Today, on the other side of the world, good people are fleeing Islamic extremist groups who are taking over their homeland and executing anyone who does not agree with their twisted ideology.
We need to change our current immigration policies to make it easier for those who wish to come and contribute to do so. That said, there needs to be controls on this process. Immigrants MUST be properly vetted. If you can’t contribute you can’t stay – our public assistance programs are already overburdened. There should be harsh penalties for coming to the US and engaging in criminal activity. Full and equal status can wait – permanent residency should continue to be a part of the process.
I’m old enough to remember when Ho Chi Minh took over South Vietnam. Hundreds of thousands of refugees came to the United States. These were people who often left with the clothes on their back. Today they and their families are contributing citizens.
This is not about displacing American workers. This is about honoring the fundamental founding principles of the United States. Do we need to be reminded of the words inscribed at the base of the symbol of our country’s freedom and liberty?
From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
The Declaration of Independence states “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There’s a reason Jefferson used the word “men” and not “citizens.”
To me, this is not an issue of employment. It’s an issue of human rights and whether or not we want to welcome those fleeing oppression & economic decay for a better life in America. Our country stands at a cross-roads. The time for partisan politics is over – something needs to be done.