Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Obama Panders To Hispanics And Ignores Indians.

Immigration, particularly illegal immigration, is a thorny issue now in America. Nearly 14 million illegal immigrants live in America today. In an election season both parties are posturing on that issue with neither meaning what they say. Romney cannot deport all 14 million nor can Obama give amnesty (euphemistically called 'path to citizenship') to all. One particular sub sect of illegal immigrants is looked at with compassion from both sides of the political divide. Children, as young as 3 or less even, brought illegally into the US by their parents are a class of illegal immigrants who deserve to be looked at differently. Many have gone to school and many more are even graduating from colleges. It makes no sense, economically or otherwise, to deport them.

Texas governor Rick Perry had signed a scheme for such children to attend state universities. It is the right thing to do. There are economic costs and benefits to it. The long term benefits to US certainly outweighs the costs. That and another issue (mandating HPV vaccines for girls) was Rick Perry's undoing. Not to mention the 'oops that was heard around the world'. Mitt Romney, of Mexican descent,  seeking to appear tough came up with the ludicrous notion of 'self deportation' and talked of 'turning off the magnets' like allowing such children to attend college.

The Hispanic lobby, naturally, is pressing for some form of amnesty and harps on 'comprehensive immigration reform' (see my earlier blog from 2010 ). They will never speak of 'immigration reform' without the qualifier 'comprehensive'. Immigration reform often implies fixing the messy H1B and Green Card processes. 'Comprehensive Immigration Reform' encompasses the deeply thorny issue of what to do with 14 million human beings that the Hispanic lobby now refers to as 'undocumented immigrants'. One Hispanic columnist went so far as to say using the word 'illegal' is a 'slur' and a presumption of guilt which runs counter to our concept of justice. Another columnist, Hispanic, objected to twisting language and called for a straight forward resolution to a vexing issue.

Obama when he ran in 2008 promised the Hispanic lobby that he will attend to 'comprehensive immigration reform' in his very first year. The gullible and naive Hispanic lobby voted in droves for 'hope and change'. George Bush had carried the Hispanic vote in 2004. As is habitual for Obama it was a promise he conveniently forgot until, you guessed it, election time. Not only did he forget the promise to give a path to citizenship, Obama, seeking to be seen tougher than GOP on immigration, deported illegal aliens by the thousands creating a record and a resentment within the Hispanic community. Seeing the GOP shooting itself in the foot on immigration Obama's amnesia on reform wore off and voila we have an executive order that the Obama's administration, charged with upholding the law, will stop enforcing the law for those immigrants who were brought here as children and are attending colleges.

Charles Krauthammer in his column "Obama's Amnesty By Fiat" noted that Obama said, on March 28th 2011, he cannot suspend the deportations by executive order because 'there are laws passed by Congress'. Krauthammer acidly noted 'those laws remain on the books. They have not changed'. I am all for keeping those children and kids but it has to be done by Congress not by executive order that reeks of a political opportunism. Even if I were to swallow that, I, as an Indian immigrant, demand that the President give justice to the hundreds of Indian H1B's suffocating under 5 or even 10 year wait for Green cards.

I am not talking about offshoring. I am not talking about H1B quotas or giving green card to Indian students who study in universities though both are highly desired goals by the industry, opinion makers like Thomas Friedman and even influential politicians in both parties. There is lot of economic sense to all that. However I'd like to draw the President's attention to those H1B's who have already filed for a green card and are waiting, excruciatingly, for more than 5 years. H1B's are wrongly seen as depressing the wages of American workers. Even if one gives credence to that fallacy, it makes all the more sense to give them green cards thus liberating them to pursue jobs from employers who pay better wages. Keeping workers yoked under the H1B is what deprives the economy of workers who seek higher wages in the market.

I am angry about all Indian associations for their inability to come together on an issue of vital importance to the community. In 2008 TANA, the Telugu association, raised $4 Million for Hillary Clinton. That is BIG money for a presidential candidate. Just take the Tamil association meeting I attended. They spent $400,000 in Baltimore not counting what 2000 visitors spent on the local economy by way of staying in hotels etc.

H1B's rarely buy a home because they need to be mobile and go wherever they find a job. Most H1B's wait to buy a home until they get a green card. A green card gives the ability to find jobs from any employer thus helping them to put down roots in a place. Indian-Americans have an envious credit history and have good cash reserves to buy a home even in this market when credit requirements are high. Giving green card to every H1B guy is one quick way to solve the housing crises.

When Obama became the nominee Indian-Americans campaigned, raised funds and voted enthusiastically. Indian-Americans along with other Asians and Afro-Americans gave Obama a critical demographic advantage and delivered Virginia, a state that was not won by any Democrat in 40 years, let alone an Afro-American contender.

Hispanic community speaks as one voice. The famous disunity amongst Indians is shamefully evident on this issue. Even more shameful is the fact that Indian-Americans who are citizens look at H1B's as competitors.

By every benchmark, college grads, stable families, income, professionals etc Indian-Americans are the best performing ethnic group. Pew research says that Asian-Americans are a critical voting bloc in swing states and most are registered democrats which should be a 'caution to the GOP'. The Indian-American voting group has thrown away its vote by voting predictably for democrats without pressing for anything in return.

Steve Jobs, according his biographer Walter Isaacson, pressed Obama for a more liberal H1B regime and for liberalizing green cards. Obama told him that he can do it only as part of 'comprehensive immigration reform'. A sour Job recalled that and said "well he (Obama) is just another politician".

In contrast the GOP is very friendly toward Indian immigration. During a Republican Governor's retreat MIT President stressed that immigrants who come  to study should be given green cards. Haley Barbour, Republican governor of Mississippi, echoing Thomas Friedman said "yes we should staple a green card to their graduation certificates".

My dear fellow Indian-Americans learn to unite (ah that vexing issue) and fight for your fellow Indian-Americans. Demand justice. Do not throw your vote. Compel Obama and Romney to commit to reforming green cards. In fact on this issue Obama actually has more leeway to use executive privilege but he, like any other politician, will not budge unless compelled. Let us make it a demand that Green Cards should be issued to any H1B waiting for 5 years or more and holding a job.

No comments: