Purging the Scourge – exterminating the H1Bs on American Soil
Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Propaganda Minister had said something in his lifetime that has come true in the oldest and the most powerful democracy in the world... more than half a century after it was said. And it has to do with the extermination of H1B migrants on American soil, just as the Nazi party was carrying out the extermination of Jews from German territory. The only difference is that the loss of lives has been replaced by the loss of livelihood, careers, dreams and the lofty ideal that "America is a country where anyone can come from any background, and make it big, so long as he/she has talent, and the determination to sweat it out".
This is that story.
The 45th President of the United States brought with him to the Presidency, a refreshing agenda that established a high brand recognition for his promises as compared to the somewhat stale and not so titillating objectives of his predecessor – America First. And one of the unique selling propositions of “America First” was a pre-planned and sustained attack on the H1B system of visas that brings in “specialty occupation workers” into the United States.
The attack on H1Bs proved to be one of the most polarizing debates in recent American society, and one of the most rewarding political rallying points for the followers of the man who would become the 45th President. President Trump meticulously followed through with his choice of attorney general through Jeff Sessions, an avowed hater of the H1B system.
Together, the powerful duo have cultivated a vituperative narrative that focuses on the flaws of the system, and magnifies those flaws to the extent of making it appear that the H1B visa system has become a diabolical instrument in making working class Americans jobless at the expense of aliens from abroad snatching up those very jobs.
Perception became the reality, in fact perception overtook reality.
Compare the fear-mongering with some sobering facts on H1B from FWD.us
And then there was the cartoon in the townhall.com, that best reflected the message Trump was trying to send to the American workforce.
This tactic was a copybook adaptation of Joseph Goebbels' philosophy - 'There was no point in seeking to convert the intellectuals. For intellectuals would never be converted and would anyways always yield to the ****er, and this will always be "the man in the street". Arguments must therefore be crude, clear and forcible, and appeal to emotions and instincts, not the intellect. Truth was unimportant and entirely subordinate to tactics and psychology.'
Again in Goebbel's words - "A lie told once remains a lie, but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth".
As Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels would have found absolution in the fact that what he had proposed for the survival and propagation of the Nazi party’s ideals in the heydays of the Third Reich, was more than half a century later being leveraged as a template in the 45th Presidency of the United States.
This makes for a compelling narrative that is locked and loaded to unleash a wave of xenophobic rhetoric, even in the sanest of minds, and that is exactly what social media has demonstrated, in the past few months. I have witnessed with a growing sense of unease turning to sadness and despair, the sometime vitriolic, sometime condescending write-ups that have emerged on LinkedIn from professionals who have reached those glorified heights in their career, from where their perspective should have become cleaner and clearer, rather than be clouded by socio-political trends and influences.
Why Do I Care?
But that’s me, and my opinions. So, as an American citizen, why am I sad and despairing? I work in IT consulting myself, so shouldn’t the elimination of needless competition from abroad be good news to me?
That’s the story I want to share with you… the story of 3 H1B specialty workers who are experiencing a slow and excruciating end to their career… and their American dream, which is symptomatic of a larger purge that will slowly and systematically decimate the H1B population during the reign of the 45th Presidency.
End of Days for Three H1Bs
To preserve their anonymity, I will call them Thing 1, Thing 2 and Thing 3. In this country we call them “resident aliens” (official USCIS terminology), therefore referring to them as “things” shouldn’t be that denigrating. They each have an H1B visa, and all work for the same consulting organization. Due to a drying up of projects in the pipeline, compounded by a shakeup in the organization structure, they have all been laid off.
Things 1, 2 and 3 are some of the brightest minds I have come across in my consulting career. They have been my role models, as I have (in a previous job) had the good fortune of working under 2 of them. I looked up to them and wished to be like them sometime in my career. Their consulting skills, communications with the client, emotional maturity under duress and stressful situations – I wanted it all!
No H1Bs Please!
Now, that Things 1, 2 and 3 are out in the open market looking for jobs, they have come across a pattern that they never experienced in their earlier job searches. Things 2 and 3 have experienced layoffs earlier, but all that is needed for an H1B to get the next job is to excel in the interview process, and then the new employer will formally petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), to transfer the H1B visa for the selected candidate, from the previous employer to the new employer. In the reign of the 45th POTUS, that is not happening. The doors are closing.
Thing 1 received a call from a recruiter at Accenture. As soon as the recruiter gathered that Thing 1 is on an H1B, he was denied the opportunity to even be interviewed. The statement was – “Accenture has stopped taking H1Bs… for now”.
Thing 2 received a call from Deloitte, while Thing 3 from Ernst & Young. They were both given the same reason, even before the interview could begin. These organizations are no longer interviewing H1Bs, and so the interview just cannot happen.
Some of the Employers that have participated in online postings of their open positions on job sites, even go so far as to provide a graphical illustration of who can and cannot apply.
Question – What is a Level Playing Field? Can H1Bs claim it when competing with Citizens and Permanent Residents?
In any job application the underlying, unspoken assumption is that every candidate that is eligible to apply for that job, will be afforded a level playing field, wherein perceptions, preconceptions, subjectivity, biases and prejudices will find no place in the selection process. Many corporations incorporate that assumption into the philosophy – “We are an Equal Opportunity Provider”. Selection will solely be on the basis of merit. And for a candidate to demonstrate his/her merit, should be provided the opportunity to face the interviewers, so that the candidate’s experience, skills and abilities can be elicited through the screening process and mapped to the requirements of the open position.
Now, if a candidate is denied the opportunity to appear for the interview in the first place, just because he has a specific visa and is NOT a permanent resident or citizen – is it fair to say that a Level Playing Field was denied? Or is this a highly sophisticated form of discrimination that can be justified in the current times, through some convoluted logic? Is it therefore in the best interests of the America that is in “America First”, to have a citizen with less capability fill in that position, while a candidate from abroad with superior skills gets rejected because he has a specific work visa? By that logic the US should not have hired any physicists of German or Czech origin into the Manhattan project, because there were undoubtedly American scientists available who could have fitted into Robert Oppenheimer’s team, had Mr. Oppenheimer been compelled to find fellow Americans to build the bomb.
H1B visas are Designed to “Self Destruct”
So how long can an H1B alien survive in the American job market, if there are no takers, and corporations begin shutting their doors to H1Bs? As I came to know, from Thing 2, the H1B visa comes with a clause wherein, if the alien is fortunate enough to find a new employer, he would be required to furnish his last pay slip from his previous employer. The new employer will use that pay slip to petition the USCIS for a transfer of employer sponsorship on the H1B visa. The USCIS will validate, if that last pay slip is NOT older than 60 days. Because if it is, then the alien holding the H1B visa goes out of status, which is to say his visa status gets annulled, and he must return to his country of origin – end of the life of the H1B.
This creates 2 distinct possibilities in the current situation.
Indentured Servitude – So long as the H1B alien is aware that the outside market is turning hostile to H1B workers, he has no choice but to stick to his employer, till his green card gets processed, assuming his current employer has sponsored that process. There is an invisible ball and chain, or a short leash.
Certain Death – In case the H1B alien gets laid off, he has to fail in procuring a new job for 60 days from the date of his firing, to lose his H1B visa status, and therefore be compelled to board a flight back home.
Finally… Killing Them Softly
Things 1, 2 and 3, are now dreading the prospect of “Certain Death”, as explained above. They have been serving some of the Fortune 500 companies during their illustrious career for over a decade now, and patiently waiting for the Green Card. That wait is finally coming to an end, but not in a manner they could have anticipated, even in their worst nightmares. Their days on American Soil are numbered.
With corporations shutting their doors to H1B visa holders, the establishment of the 45th President has ensured that the extermination of H1Bs on American soil is realized with swift and brutal efficiency, without even having to involve the Congress.
Charlie Chaplin Portrayed it the Best
Just as Charlie Chaplin’s character (in the 1917 movie “Immigrant") was “kicked into the US” by the immigration officer at Ellis Island, similarly the Land of Liberty can ensure that you as an alien can be kicked out, without committing a single offense!
This article was first published here.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)