Many in the world see us Americans as being obsessed about race. Today, for instance, a journalist and book author whom I admire (and have praised here) tweeted that the only reason people, indeed “progressive” ones!, voted for Trump was that they are racist. In certain circles, the “R word” seems to be the default explanation for any problem.
This is not to say that everyone in the US has 100% healthy racial attitudes. Far from it. Today’s testimony in the Harvard admissions lawsuit includes some disturbing stories about the way white students view and treat underrepresented minorities. And need I mention the acts of violence against, blacks, browns and now Jews?
Over the years of my writing on the H-1B work visa, I have explained, with some irritation, to numerous reporters who contact me that H-1B is NOT about race. If one loses a job, directly or indirectly to a foreign worker because the statutes are so lax, one does not care what the race of the foreigner is; losing a job is losing a job. Reporters, coming from their “race is the answer” echo chambers, have a hard time getting this. I’ve been interacting with anti-H-1B activists for nearly 25 years, and I’ve never encountered any with bad attitudes toward people of color; indeed many are POC themselves.
And yet…I was contacted last week by a member of an organization called Protect US Workers (PUW). The member, whom I’ll call Lucinda, asked if I might join in their teleconference. I knew little more about the organization than it was headed by attorney Sara Blackwell. I told Lucinda that I have a profound disagreement with Ms. Blackwell, who I am sure is well-meaning but who is actually harming the cause of H-1B reform by her emphasis on the “Infosyses”; this will result in a LARGER H-1B program, as I’ve explained before.
But Lucinda, in urgent proselytizing mode, repeatedly pressed me to look into PUW’s lobbying against HR 392, a bill being promoted by Immigration Voice, an organization of H-1Bs who are stuck in an interminable wait for green card approval. The cause of their troubles is that current green card law allocates the same yearly number of green cards for each country of origin. Since the tech green card applicants are mainly Indian and Chinese, their wait times are years or even decades. HR 392 would remove the per-country limits while preserving the current overall cap.
I am well aware of the bill (on which I have been neutral), but I wondered why Lucinda was so agitated. If enacted, the bill would not increase the number of jobs available to US citizens and permanent residents. After a few more DM iterations on Twitter, it came out: Lucinda resents the Indians. She’d been mistreated by them, and extrapolates that to all Indians. HR 392 would reduce green cards for “our allies,” in Europe and Israel. She is not bothered by the Chinese H-1Bs, just the Indians. Revenge.
Mind you, I can understand Lucinda’s frustration. I constantly hear from American techies who tell me (and often show me) that Indian recruiters are contacting them for jobs that they (the Americans) will never be actually considered for. And Lucinda’s racial problem appears to be rather mild. But it IS a problem, and apparently is one that is common in PUW, judging from the public tweets.
PUW, “Keep your eyes on the prize.” Don’t get sidetracked.