Does Exclusivity Make It Seem More Valuable
Hell, there are no rules here - we're trying to accomplish something.
- Thomas A Edison
Harsh, you say? You are absolutely correct. However, the above laws happen to be the immigration laws of Mexico...
Immigrants Not Stealing American Dream
by Lauren Fox
During the dead of winter, my skin usually looks milky white. Sometimes I smooth and straighten my naturally curly locks. I've never been to Mexico, Spain or even a border state. I'm not fluent in Spanish and at times I cannot understand things my grandmother says. Pero yo soy Latina.
My mother was born in Edinburg, Texas. She falls near the middle of 8 children. My grandmother came to the United States from Mexico, and although he died long before I was born, my grandfather from Spain was an amazing relative I would have loved to know.
I am Latina; half of who I am originated in countries across the US border. There are times when ethnicity and race become topics of conversation, and in these moments, I am often forced to defend myself so as not to deny the existence and lives of my family - the people I love and care for the most.
We have been blueberry pickers, house cleaners and janitors. My family members started at the bottom of the barrel in jobs that were seemingly menial and certainly stereotypical of Mexican Americans and Latinos in the United States. Now, my aunts, uncles and mother are making $15 an hour as managers of national companies and working at businesses, factories and corporations in New York City and other big cities at well over minimum wage. My mother has five children; I'm right in the middle at 21 years old and a professional writing senior at MSU. My oldest sister is raising a beautiful family in a Lansing suburb while studying nursing at LCC and working at Ingham Regional Medical Center. After graduating with honours from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, my other sister went on to study law at the same institution and is now working at a Mexican American legal defense firm in Chicago. My two younger brothers are still in middle and high school, but will undoubtedly be college-bound after they graduate. Nosotros somos Latinos.
All of us - we are Latinos. I'm not sure we'd be where we are today if my grandparents hadn't made the journey to the United States so long ago. Can you blame them for wanting all that we have now? Even though my relatives are all legal citizens of the United States, I can't help but think about the turmoil and great stress other Mexican American families are facing with the proposed anti-immigration reforms. In a lot of ways, we are alike. My grandparents both left countries where they were limited in available opportunities and careers, places that made them unhappy and unsuccessful. They decided to come to America, the land of the free and home of the brave. Supposedly there would be more prospects and greater chances of happiness and survival in the United States. Those greater chances were as farmhands, cleaners and hard labourers - jobs that other Americans passed over for more advanced and high-paying careers.
But this was just the jumping point of a revolution. Immigrants began to climb silently up the success ladder, most starting on the lowest rung. Today, many Latinos have found happiness and professional achievement, but still not equality. And just as Latinos have managed to rise above the status of maids and farmers, our government passes laws and bills to force people back out of the country. Under these reforms, children will be torn from their mothers and fathers in tear-filled goodbyes. Relatives awaiting US sanction on the other side of the Mexican border will never reunite with their families who made the cross years earlier. The doors to the land of opportunity will be slammed shut in the solemn faces of those seeking the religious and personal freedoms our country promises.
How can we be so quick to refuse immigration when that is exactly how our country came to be? And moreover, how can we go from one home to the next, banging on doors, demanding that Latinos produce their green cards or leave the country? What kind of people are we to say that 2-year-old children born in this country can stay, but their mothers who came from countries like Cuba and Nicaragua with communist governments must go back to a country that wasn't good to them to begin with?
I find it extremely disgusting and disturbing to hear about states like Pennsylvania that are taking extreme measures to rid their neighbourhoods of illegal immigrants, who Republican Representative Daryl Metcalfe so affectionately said are trying to "steal the American dream instead of working for it." As I see it, there is no robbery taking place here. These people are working incredibly hard in positions that most Americans consider themselves above. They are working toward a dream, but is it really an American dream to work in the professions most commonly filled by Latinos?
en years from now, I'd love to see ex-CEOs and former businesspeople barebacked in a blueberry field picking bloody thorns from their rough, tanned fingers while sweating profusely in sweltering 90° heat. Yes, that sounds like the American dream.
Lauren Fox is a State News copy chief. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: statenews.com 31 July 2006
Most See Visa Program as Severely Flawed
by S Mitra Kalita
Somewhere in the debate over immigration and the future of illegal workers, another, less-publicized fight is being waged over those who toil in air-conditioned offices, earn up to 6-figure salaries and spend their days programming and punching code. They are foreign workers who arrive on H-1B visas, mostly young men from India and China tapped for skilled jobs such as software engineers and systems analysts. Unlike seasonal guest workers who stay for about 10 months, H-1B workers stay as long as 6 years. By then, they must obtain a green card or go back home.
The House Judiciary Committee has heard testimony for and against expanding the H-1B program. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved legislation that would increase the H-1B cap to 115,000 from 65,000 and allow some foreign students to bypass the program altogether and immediately get sponsored for green cards, which allow immigrants to be permanent residents, free to live and work in the United States. But underlying the arguments is a belief, even among the workers themselves, that the current H-1B program is severely flawed.
Opponents say the highly skilled foreign workers compete with and depress the wages of native-born Americans. Supporters say foreign workers stimulate the economy, create more opportunities for their US counterparts and prevent jobs from being outsourced overseas. The problem, they say, is the cumbersome process: Immigrants often spend 6 years as guest workers and then wait for green card sponsorship and approval.
At the House committee hearing, Stuart Anderson, executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy, a nonprofit research group, spoke in favour of raising the cap. Still, he said in an interview, the H-1B visa is far from ideal. "What you want to have is a system where people can get hired directly on green cards in 30 to 60 days."
Economists seem divided on whether highly skilled immigrants depress wages for US workers. In 2003, a study for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta found no effect on salaries, with an average income for both H-1B and American computer programmers of $55,000. Still, the study by Madeline Zavodny, now an economics professor at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, concluded "that unemployment was higher as a result of these H-1B workers." In a working paper released in March, Harvard University economist George J Borjas studied the wages of foreigners and native-born Americans with doctorates, concluding that the foreigners lowered the wages of competing workers by 3 to 4%. He said he suspected that his conclusion also measured the effects of H-1B visas. "If there is a demand for engineers and no foreigners to take those jobs, salaries would shoot through the roof and make that very attractive for Americans," Borjas said.
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - USA says H-1B salaries are lower. "Those who are here on H-1B visas are being worked as indentured servants. They are being paid $13,000 less in the engineering and science worlds," said Ralph W Wyndrum Jr, president of the advocacy group for technical professionals, which favours green-card-based immigration, but only for exceptional candidates. Wyndrum said the current system allows foreign skilled workers to "take jobs away from equally good American engineers and scientists." He based his statements about salary disparities on a December report by John Miano, a software engineer, who favours tighter immigration controls. Miano spoke at the House hearing and cited figures from the Occupational Employment Statistics program that show US computer programmers earn an average $65,000 a year, compared with $52,000 for H-1B programmers. "Is it really a guest-worker program since most people want to stay here? Miano said in an interview. "There is direct displacement of American workers."
Those who recruit and hire retort that a global economy mandates finding the best employees in the world, not just the US. And because green-card caps are allocated equally among countries (India and China are backlogged, for example), the H-1B becomes the easiest way to hire foreigners. It is not always easy. Last year, Razorsight Corporation, a technology company with offices in Fairfax and Bangalore, India, tried to sponsor more H-1B visas - but they already were exhausted for the year. Currently, the company has 12 H-1B workers on a US staff of 100, earning $80,000 to $120,000 a year. Charlie Thomas, Razorsight's chief executive, said the cap should be based on market demand. "It's absolutely essential for us to have access to a global talent," he said. "If your product isn't the best it can be with the best cost structure and development, then someone else will do it. And that someone else may not be a US-based company."
Because H-1B holders can switch employers to sponsor their visas, some workers said they demand salary increases along the way. But once a company sponsors their green cards, workers say they don't expect to be promoted or given a raise.
Now some H-1B holders are watching to see how Congress treats the millions of immigrants who crossed the borders through stealthier means. Sameer Chandra, 30, who lives in Fairfax and works as a systems analyst on an H-1B visa, said he is concerned that Congress might make it easier for immigrants who entered the US illegally to get a green card than people like him. "What is the point of staying here legally?" he said. His Houston-based company has sponsored his green card, and Chandra said he hopes it is processed quickly. If it is not, he said, he will return to India. "There's a lot of opportunities there in my country."
Source: washingtonpost.com 31 March 2006 p D01 © 2006 The Washington Post Company
If a foreign worker is willing to come to the US and work just as effectively, but for less, than a US employee would, who benefits and who is penalized? The company saves money and so can afford to hire more workers, sell its product cheaper, or pay its shareholders more (or, more likely, give its CEO a raise). An American employee may be out of a job, or else forced to work for less to compete. But if goods become cheaper as a result, then he can afford to live on less. However, If company executives are merely becoming richer, why blame the immigrant? Rein in executive salaries instead. Oh? The executives earn their salaries by making the company internationally competitive and more profitable (in some cases, this is true)? Well...
Agency Could Hinder Immigration Reform
by Spencer S Hsu
Washington - Last June, US immigration officials were presented a plan that supporters said could help slash waiting times for green cards from nearly 3 years to 3 months and save 1 million applicants more than 1/3 of the 45 hours they could expect to spend in government lines. It would also save about $350 million. The response from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services: No thanks...
Leaders of the agency rejected key changes because ending huge immigration backlogs nationwide would rob it of application and renewal fees that cover 20% of its $1.8 billion budget, according to the plan's author, agency ombudsman Prakash Khatri. Current and former immigration officials dispute that, saying Khatri's plan, based on a successful pilot program in Dallas, would be unmanageable if expanded nationwide. Still, they acknowledge financial problems and say modernisation efforts have been delayed since 1999 by money shortages, inertia, increased security demands after the 11 September 2001 attacks, and the disruptive launch of the Homeland Security Department.
As the nation debates whether, and how, to legalise as many as 12 million illegal immigrants, the agency that would spearhead the effort is confronting its reputation as a broken bureaucracy whose inefficiency encourages more illegal immigration and paradoxical disincentives to change. Under the Senate's proposed immigration legislation, Citizenship and Immigration Services would vet legalisation applications and perform security checks for illegal immigrants already living here - a surge that would be as much as triple the agency's annual caseload of 5 million applications. Each application could generate fines and fees of $1,000 to $5,000, a windfall of $10 billion to $15 billion over 8 years, Homeland Security officials said. The money would dwarf revenue from a previously announced agency plan to increase fees on immigrant applications by 50% as early as next week, to raise $1 billion a year.
Former US officials, watchdog groups, and immigrant advocates warn that Citizenship and Immigration is ill positioned to make the best use of the money. Instead, they say, Congress must change how it funds the 16,000-worker agency and provide tough oversight if the agency is to move past its legacy of shoddy service, years-long delays and susceptibility to fraud. Liberals and conservatives say relying on user fees to upgrade the agency is a recipe for disaster. "If the USCIS fails once again to meet the challenge, the laws of supply and demand will overtake US immigration laws," driving workers and employers to bypass the law, said James Jay Carafano, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Given the nation's history of weak enforcement at the border and at companies that hire illegal workers, Citizenship and Immigration's record as gatekeeper for legal immigrants often is overlooked. Each year the agency, once known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, awards 1 million green cards, 700,000 naturalizations, and 1 million temporary work permits. Delays, however, have plagued its efforts. After peaking at more than 5 million applications in 2003, the agency's backlog stood at 1.1 million last summer after a 5-year, $500 million reduction effort. That includes 140,000 cases that are not awaiting action by any other agency.
Citizenship and Immigration's troubles stem from the nation's 1986 amnesty. Acting on the principle that citizenship is a benefit that immigrants, not taxpayers, should pay for, Congress required immigrants to cover the cost of citizenship examinations, then about 1/10 of INS's budget. But what started as a reform became an addiction. Hooked on fees, Congress allowed the growth of a Turkish bazaar of levies, through which immigrants now pay for 90% of the agency's budget. They subsidize even non paying applicants such as refugees, asylum seekers, and US military members.
As workloads grew, fees, last revised in 1998, failed to keep up. Without money to invest in technology and management improvements, the agency continued to rely on a paper-based filing system from the pre computer age. That carried $100 million a year in archiving, retrieval, storage and shipping costs, as well as lost paperwork and delays. The 11 September 2001 attacks prompted costly new mandates for background checks, security upgrades at more than 100 offices, and subsidies to strapped enforcement operations and the new Homeland Security Department.
Source: boston.com from the Washington Post 29 May 2007
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