Thursday, September 06, 2007

Reverse Brain Drain

Even mainstream media outlets are waking up to the sorry plight of legal immigrants in America and it is about time too. The shrill headlines are bound to provoke reaction and often of the uninformed, knee-jerk kind. There are many conspiracy theories around the colossal bureaucratic ineptitude that has led to the log-jam in the employment based immigration process.

Maybe the government really wants to the high-skilled immigrants to pack up and leave so those jobs can be reclaimed by the "natives" who had been displaced by "cheap" (the most persistent myth about H1-B workers is that they are universally low paid) immigrant labor. Maybe the powers that be want the likes of Google, Cisco and Microsoft to wind up operations stateside and relocate to the third-world. There must be an grand design to explain this all. In the meanwhile, the hapless immigrant continues to wait for Godot.

There are many who think that it is in their country's best interest to allow status quo to prevail. Have the system completely befuddle and wear out the foreigner trying to plant roots in their homeland. They would have the slow bleeding continue and have immigrants find somewhere else to go. The common argument is that America has no obligation to better the lot of foreign nationals who are legally "alien" in their country. If they don't like it here, no one is forcing them to stay. The door to leave has always been open wide.

Analysts and researchers can conjure as many doomsday scenarios as they wish to illustrate the catastrophic effects of reverse brain drain but it is not likely to make an impression on the average person who is convinced immigrants take away disproportionately more than they give back to the system. It may take for the scenarios to fully play out and for most American jobs to be outsourced to countries where the immigrant talent is flowing out before anyone pays attention.

The magnificent chaos and disarray in the immigration system is a sad tale of the average person's fear of the unknown, inability to see the big picture combined with the unwillingness of their political leaders to look beyond what it takes to win the next election. The effects of myopia are telling.

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