Check out this analysis by Catalina Sofia Dansberger Duque and myself for the Ms. Magazine blog on the Trump administration’s attacks on H-4 visa holders.
The Trump Administration’s Visa Rules Are an Attack on Immigrant Women
“Work restrictions have an impact on H-4 visa holders’ careers, mental health and sense of belonging. A woman who migrated with her spouse and had a computer engineering degree shared her frustration about waiting for the right to work. “I wanted to come to the United States so I could start my own career,” she told Ms. “But now, I am sitting at home, with nothing to do. Every day is like a jail.”” Read more here
My latest piece about recent changes to the H-1B/H-4 visa program is up on The Conversation. In it, I talk about the history of family reunification and why it is vital to the U.S. economy. Here is an excerpt and you can read the full article here:
“On Dec. 14, the Trump administration announced a regulatory change that would strip spouses of high-skilled foreign workers of the right to work in the United States.
The apparent aim is to promote Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” executive order issued in April. It’s also part of efforts to scale back the H-1B visa program, which allows workers to bring spouses and children under H-4 visas.
Besides likely having a negative impact on industries that use H-1B visas, such as information technology, software development and finance, my own research shows that it will also, intentionally or not, disproportionately harm women.”
I discuss the uptick in South Asian women’s political leadership in this piece by Laila Kazmi: “In Washington State, South Asian American Women Are Ushering in a New Era of Political Engagement” (November 2, 2017).
The article notes:
“Compared to previous elections, the tally of female South-Asian candidates is significant, according to Dr. Amy Bhatt, co-author of “Roots and Reflections: South Asians in the Pacific Northwest” and associate professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at University of Maryland.
“[South Asian Americans] have had such a low historic presence in elected offices at all levels across the United States,” Bhatt says.
But Jayapal’s election last November to U.S. Congress may represent a turning point. Her victory and the fact that Washington State is home to one of the oldest South Asian immigrant communities in the country — dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, when Sikhs first arrived here to work in timber and farming — might explain why we’re seeing such an interest in running for office.
Early South-Asian immigrants came mostly as laborers and those who arrived in the mid-20th century generally came either for higher education opportunities or to join family members already here. They tended to not be very political, according to Bhatt.
“But, now we are seeing first- and second-generation immigrants [running for offices], in part because the community today is more complex and multigenerational,” says Bhatt, herself a second-generation Indian American. “There is also the awareness that with rising Islamophobia and rising xenophobia in the country, if we don’t start taking a stronger stance, politically, we are also going to be victimized.”
In case you missed it, check out Sareeta Amrute and my article about why Huffington Post about the need for cross-immigrant group solidarity in the face of the Trump administration’s increasing restrictions on immigration. Here is an excerpt and you can read the full article here:
Whether addressing asylum seekers or knowledge workers, these immigration restrictions make one thing clear: all immigrants are vulnerable, regardless of education level, background, country of origin, or religion. For years, the United States, European countries and Australia have prioritized “skilled” professionals over “unskilled” workers. These divisions obscure the underlying commonality that immigrants face as outsiders, regardless of their status. Now, these pretensions have fallen away.
Beyond joining the groundswell of outrage condemning the administration’s attack on immigration, tech workers and the companies that employ them need to recognize and make common cause with all immigrants, as well as with the movement for black lives, and the movement to protect indigenous sovereignty. This means thinking historically, standing up when low-income immigrants are attacked and finding solidarity across immigration status.
I was interviewed for a piece on South Asian philanthropy in the Pacific Northwest for December’s issue of Seattle Magazine. Check it out!
Stutevill, Sarah. “South Asians are Becoming More Visible in the Philanthropic Community.” Seattle Magazine, December 2015, print edition.
From the article:
“There is a propensity for the Indian community to give to orgs that are doing work in India,” says Badshah. The contributions helped establish a culture of global giving at the burgeoning tech giant, and came at a time when the region as a whole was re-envisioning itself as an international economic player. “The economic explosion and upward mobility of the tech sector and of Seattle has been paralleled in certain communities…. South Asians are an example,” says Amy Bhatt, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Bhatt, who earned her doctorate at the University of Washington, studies South Asian migration trends in the tech industry. “There’s a lot of wealth that has accumulated here.”As a result, that first generation of international tech workers helped incubate a number of nonprofits and foundations. For Srilata Remala’s father, Rao Remala, Microsoft’s first Indian hire, giving back was a way to stay connected to his home country.“He really struggled to get an education,” says Remala of her father, who wrote the original code for Microsoft Windows. “The village that he [grew up] in didn’t have a hospital…. He decided he wanted to give back so that children can have a better chance to succeed, like he did.”
That giving back took the form of a family foundation, now primarily run by Remala, 31, and her sister Srilakshmi Remala Kamdar, 36. Both women donate the family’s charitable funds locally and abroad. The foundation made a recent $500,000 donation to the United Way of King County for youth programming and a $15,000 donation to the Seattle-based Infectious Disease Research Institute to help combat chikungunya—a mosquito-borne disease that has infected members of Remala’s own family back in southern India.
In this short documentary about the landmark 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, I talk about the role that early South Asians played in transforming American immigration.
Check out the documentary, “Immigration Reform, A Work in Progress” on KCTS’s website!
In this special feature in The Seattle Times’s Pacific NW Magazine, I discuss the issues that H-4 visa holders face when living in the United States.
Thompson, Lynn. “Identity Crisis: Wives of Tech Workers Struggle to Find Purpose.” The Seattle Times, August 28, 2015.
I published a chapter in the 2015 edited collection Transnational Migration and Asia: The Question of Return, (editor Michiel Baas, Amsterdam University Press) discussing the experience migrants have when they return to India after living abroad.
In this piece celebrating Women’s History Month, I discuss the important roles that South Asian women played in American history for the South Asian American Digital Archive’s (SAADA) Tides Magazine.