President Donald Trump must look beyond his paranoia of immigrants and ensure the continuance of the jobs of the highly skilled Indian technology professionals and their families in the US that are on H–1B visas. Over 750,000 professionals and 800,000 dependents that are on H-1B visas have contributed immensely to the American economy and its technology eco-system.
Indian professionals have provided yeoman services to the US technology giants like Google, Microsoft or IBM. These very professionals have anchored operations of large Indian IT companies like TCS, Infosys and Wipro on the US soil. None in the US administration, including Trump can deny the Indian professionals excellence in chosen technology fields that moved the American brands and turned them bellwether firms. It’s these immigrant workers that have actually brought in the diversity and innovations coupled with economy of operations and competitive edge to the US industry in general and technology companies in particular.
Without the Indian technology professionals, the famed Silicon Valley in the US would have turned a barren land with concrete structures. The US exports would not have been competitive enough either. Well-trained and academically qualified Indian professionals for decades bridged the demand supply gap in the US across streams like science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) etc.
The US Homeland Security’s latest move to end H-1B visas extension beyond six years will no doubt lead to mass exodus of Indians living on American soil. That does not mean that the native US citizens have the requisite skills sets to manage the top IT firms. “Be American, buy American and hire American” is protectionist, restrictive and regressive in spirit and content. Donald Trump should realise that economies world over could resort to counter measures and reject the US companies, their products and services. India has enough alternatives to access products and services from several other countries that are superior in quality and cost effective as well.
Jingoistic moves pursued by US administration should not result in cutting off relations with most trusted natural allies like India. While the Indian professionals, their families and dependents in the US have the wherewithal to challenge drastic change in H1-B visa norms, India must ready counter-offensive as a measure of abundant caution. This is not to suggest that the US and India should severe their economic, investment and diplomatic relations all together. Republic administration in the US should partner with India more aggressively to build its own army of technology professionals and address scarcity of human resources in STEM areas. Companies from both sides will have to foster relations to leverage their natural advantages like resources, technology and human capital advantageous to all.
India and the US partnership will have to develop an eco-system that will create more opportunities for their citizens with third country forays and new markets. First step towards ending uncertainty within Indian professionals living in the US was to withdraw the draconian amendments mooted by Homeland Security. President Donald Trump should seek a wider debate within his own industry advisory council.
Secondly, the proposed Protect and Grow American Jobs Act should be put in cold storage while the Trump administration identifies, nourishes and embellishes the skills sets required for running IT companies within its own population. Brookings and American Enterprises Institute reports have clearly pointed to the fact that 230,000 advanced STEM jobs will remain vacant in 2018 owing to lack of human resources. It also pointed out that every H1-B professional has created opportunities for 1.83 native American jobs. This demolishes the Trump argument that Indians have usurped US citizens’ jobs.