India should legally confront US on proposed H-1B visa changes

U.S. President Donald Trump signs the $1.5 trillion tax overhaul plan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

NEW YORK – That old adage of ‘who needs enemies, with friends like you?’ is what India should confront the United States and the Trump Administration with, on the issue of proposed Draconian changes in the H-1B visa rules, including, as a McClatchy report outlined, a devious plan doing the rounds in the Department of Homeland Security aimed squarely at ousting Indian techies, force them to ‘self-deport’, along with their families.

India should conclude their argument in a court of law, the WTO, by telling the US: ‘Shame on you!’

India should realize by now that what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has got in return for his warm and lavish outreach to President Donald Trump since he assumed office in January, 2017 – including being a generous and kind host to Ivanka Trump, a nobody by diplomatic protocol, by hosting her for a royal state dinner in Hyderabad, made her feel like a princess – is plain backstabbing.

Reports say anywhere between 750,000 to 1.5 million Indian immigrants, on H-1B visa and dependents, are being targeted, hounded by the Trump Administration, for the egregious crime of being skilled workers, paying taxes, contributing to society, staying scrupulously law abiding residents.

Try throw out one American from India for a crime he didn’t do, and wait for the furious reaction from the US – perhaps as a midnight tweet by Trump himself. Why should India tolerate the nonsense of having a million plus of their nationals humiliated and thrown out of a country for no fault of their own?

What self-respect will India be left with if that comes about?

I’ve earlier written about the carrot-and-stick policy the US has adopted with India under the Trump administration. What India, however, should be aware by now is that the US coming down hard on Pakistan is not out of concern for cross-border terrorism, but Trump’s zeal to stamp out radical Islamist forces against the US; his eagerness to claim victory in Afghanistan; bring troops home if possible under his watch, lambast the Democrats for their ‘failure’.

If India thinks they have to be cautious about voicing their concerns to the US because of the ‘largesse’ by the US on the Pakistan issue, by cutting aid and being tough on measures to clamp down on terrorism, then it’s a huge blunder.

India should not mix geopolitical issues with that of rank protectionism and contravention of recognized international labor laws, which is what the US is brazenly trying to do by disrupting the H-1B visa laws.

Fine, India should tell the US, if you want to clamp down on H-1B visa, go ahead, but give advance notice, begin the new rules only on those Indian nationals who start an H-1B visa in the future; not target, exploit those residents who have been staying in the US for years.

India should demand that the US give back the social security taxes of each and every Indian national who is forced to leave the US because of unfair laws. It’s time India become forceful in trying to forge a totalization agreement, so that the US recognizes there is a price to pay for their discriminatory act against legal workers on H-1B visa.

At present, it’s only those immigrants who have stayed and worked in the US for at least 10 consecutive years who are allowed to get their social security taxes back if they quit the US.

India should sue the US in an international court of law, demand they pay the entire social security plus compensation, including all applicable legal fees that an H-1B visa immigrant paid, while he or she stayed in the US, before being forced to ‘self-deport.’

A legal immigrant spends tens of thousands of dollars – which is great for the DHS and the US government – in fees, while getting an extension to stay on in the US. All that should be returned back by the US government to anybody whom they force out.

Modi should tell Trump: I will continue to be nice to you, as long as you are nice to me. Or, I’ll see you in court.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)





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