President Donald Trump isn’t just trying to keep immigrants from entering the United States, he and his administration appear to be hell-bent on making life difficult for those who are already here.
In addition to ordering deportation raids to be carried out by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Trump has ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and rolled back temporary status for Liberians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Syrians.
Along this same trend, the Trump administration’s crackdown on H-1B visas is set to jeopardize the livelihoods of many Indian families living in the United States, according to The New York Times.
Last fall, the administration announced that it would be rescinding a program from the President Barack Obama era which allowed spouses of H-1B visa recipients to work.
The change is expected to take place in June and would result in thousands of mostly Indian women who followed their husbands to America being forced to give up their jobs. This is all despite the fact that many of these women are highly educated with valuable skills.
“We were happily working and feeling settled down with the life we wanted. Suddenly, this announcement came and there is instability,” said Deepika Jalakam, 32, who has a degree in biotechnology and works as an analyst at an insurance company.
As The New York Times noted, during Trump’s presidential campaign, he garnered a following of Americans who feel displaced by H-1B workers taking their jobs. The president has been trying to appease this base since taking office, thus leading to the decision to overhaul the program.
The Obama administration implemented the program known as H-4EAD back in 2015, which authorized temporary work permits for spouses of H-1B visa holders who were on deck to receive a green card. Under H-4EAD, approximately 100,000 spouses — predominantly women — have received work permits.
“I felt like I was free from a cage to fly in any direction I want,” Jalakam said of her work authorization the same year.
The Indian women throughout the country who will be affected by Trump’s decision to end the program are not going down without a fight. Many of them have taken to social media to raise awareness using #standwithh4ead and #saveh4ead to spread the word.
“We’re determined to save our jobs,” said Jansi Kumar of Seattle, a founder of a Facebook page started in December, “Save H4EAD,” which has attracted nearly 5,000 followers.
L. Francis Cissna, director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services — the Department of Homeland Security agency that distributes the work permits — argued that the Trump administration is working in the interest of protecting American workers.
“The reason there is a lot of concern about Americans being displaced is because it is happening,” he reportedly said.
However, companies are not exactly welcoming this change. In January, the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, penned a letter to the administration claiming that rescinding the spousal work permits would put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage.
“Their valued, long-term employees will choose to leave their companies for other employment opportunities in countries that allow these workers and their families to raise their standard of living,” the letter said.
As news of the impending change travels, more people — including Democratic Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth — are joining the conversation, criticizing the Trump administration's attacks on immigrants who are here legally.
Trump’s attack on thousands of immigrants who are here legally (and their families) & who contribute to our society every day & make our nation stronger & more competitive is devastating: “Thousands of Indian Women Find Their American Dreams in Jeopardy” https://t.co/E9dgPEcZWw— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) April 6, 2018
Thanks fr highlighting the havoc in our lives. There’s a misconceptionthat all H1bs n their spouses take away jobs etc.Both me n my husband studied at top U.S univs., he gt hired aftr rigorous interviews on H1B on indstry payscale. No American ws displaced or denied interviewing— Write2speak (@Write2speak1) April 6, 2018
Thank you NyTimes! I moved to U.S. from Canada as H4EAD gave me the opportunity to work here. Families make life decisions based on govt policies and it’s unfair to pull the rug from under us. We will eventually get Green Card so why waste our talent until then?— Parul Raizada (@raizada_parul) April 7, 2018
@SushmaSwaraj @PMOIndia I hope you are paying attention to this proposed heinous policy change by the @DHSgov @realDonaldTrump . Please abandon your citizens!! #SaveH4EAD #DontRevokeH4EAD https://t.co/9XVJkvwtiC— Viju Agnani (@agnaniv) April 11, 2018
While there is still time to save these women's jobs, they are faced with the fear that, by June, the outcome may not change, and the comfortable lives they've established here will be stripped away from them.