Tina K. Russell

April 2, 2008

Banging my head against the border wall

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:02 am

Visa Application Period Opens for Highly Skilled Workers – New York Times

The H-1B lottery, to give skilled foreign workers a shot at success in America, is starting up again, and so is the regularly scheduled xenophobia.

But a number of lawmakers, led by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, and Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, say foreign companies have used the program to import workers who compete against Americans and lower wage rates. The senators oppose increasing the number of H-1B visas without closing loopholes in the program.

Goddamn those foreign workers who want a fair wage on even terms when they move to the Land of Opportunity! How grossly unfair!

The three companies — Infosys Technologies and Wipro Limited of Bangalore, and Satyam Computer Services of Hyderabad — accounted for more than 8,500 of the H-1B visas that received preliminary approval in 2007, figures show.

“They are H-1B brokers,” Mr. Durbin said. “For a fee, they are moving these engineers to the United States for three or six years, training them and then moving them back to India to work for companies that compete with America.”

YAAAAAAGGHH!!!! Okay, this makes me angry. (…as if you didn’t know…) Why should we be mad about the spreading of American knowledge around the world? That sounds like great stuff to me. I’m always proud of my country when I hear of people like Muhammad Yunus who studied in America and then returned to their homelands to do great things. Often, people can learn not just IT or economics, but get a great sense of America, its puralistic attitude, the rich strain of multiculturalism and anti-sexism that can be exported wholesale to other countries to spread the good word that people have innate value. People come to America from countries that may not have as much in the way of rights for women (that is not to say we’re perfect, but is merely a reminder that we are pretty good in that respect), and see that this is a place where, despite the institutionalized sexism, women fluorish in every area of work and social life and are free to date or marry or have sex with whomever they want (if anybody at all)… and society hasn’t fallen apart! This can spread America’s liberal attitudes along with its rich intellectual tradition (say what you want about stupid Americans, we have an excellent system of higher education… if you can afford it), and do great things for the world, if only we are smart enough to open up our borders to people who want a shot at the American dream (and, for that matter, those who want a shot at bringing it home).

Yaaagh! Apparently people who come to the US to set up shop and start families are bad because they somehow change the fundamental character of America (uhhh, no they don’t, we’ve always been a nation of immigrants), and somehow people who come here to learn new and wonderful things before bringing them back to their home country are bad because they are “competing against America” (as though “global competition” were a zero-sum game, or as though we need immigration reform to keep knowledge from leaking out… I hope nobody’s told Durbin about the Internet). Clearly people who want to come to America are bad no matter what they do, and that is rank xenophobia and I am completely sick and tired of it and want it excised from our political discourse, pronto.

…Sorry, I get worked up, there.

I’m very proud when America’s knowledge and accomplishments are spread across the world, and I’m very happy when big-brained foreigners come to the States to give us some of their knowledge and cultural perspective. The United States, with the capital we already have, ought to become a global trading post for bold new ideas and initiatives. There’s no damn reason we shouldn’t be, and for you utilitarians (like me) out there, it would be a wonderful boon to our economy if people only thought of America as the place you go if you are smart. Clearly, Durbin and Grassley–one Democrat and one Republican, but two xenophobes–don’t want to see that happen, want America’s image as a backward Western country cemented in the international mind by keeping knowledge and skill from coming in or going out, and want us to slip further and further down amongst our industrialized brothers and sisters in our accomplishments until the rest of the world has left us completely behind and we’re a nation full of call centers serving customers in Togo who need tech support for their time machines and fusion-powered toothbrushes. GACK.


We can decide right now if we want to be a nation living up to our own ideals of peace and justice, of openness and acceptance, the nation that bravely decrees to “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”… or be the nation that does not even want other countries to lend us their programmers, their engineers, their highly-skilled workers yearning to punch a damn clock. We can make that choice now…. one to join the global community, or let them leave us behind.

And I happen to like this country, and I don’t want it to be left behind.

So, xenophobic Congressmen, SCREW YOU. I’m going to tell my University friends who are international students how awesome they are and that America loves them and will support them in whatever they do–going home, going to another country, or settling down in the good old U.S. of A.–and that if they ask nicely, I’ll arrange for fifty minutes of good, clean making out with Lady Liberty. With tongue.

Okay! I’m done now. I hope you’ve had your cultural enlightenment for today. Remember, the rest of the world is great! Vote for Obama (I heartily recommend), as he is not only the candidate most behind the expansion of the H-1B program, but is in general the candidate of engaging America with the rest of the world. America is beautiful and wonderful and we should not let it get behind because of backward fears of “the Indians are coming!” We must be at the forefront of a new intellectual awakening! Good night!

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