Trump’s Visa Plan Threatens NYU Indian Students

Pranati Wadhawan

Over spring break, Donald Trump used international workers as a new political card in his continuing campaign of racism. During the Republican debate in Miami, Trump stated that he wants to scrap the H1-B visa given to foreign workers for certain entry-level or specialty employment in the U.S. Calling the program “unfair to workers,” Trump promised that he will eliminate the program upon being sworn into office and raise the minimum wage for US workers in entry level jobs. The H1-B visa is essential for many international students at NYU searching for jobs after four years of college in the US, and Trump’s superficially appealing proposals are only a step towards making America white again at the expense of hardworking international students.

Trump’s plan threatens a growing number of young Indians like myself studying in the U.S. Just in NYU, the number of international students has doubled from less than 5,000 students in 2000 to almost 12,000 students in 2014. The fact that NYU has the highest number of admitted international students in America is a major selling point for the school, but less well known is that Indian students are the third largest international student population at NYU, after Chinese and Korean students. In 2014 alone, NYU admitted almost 2,000 Indian students.

The H1-B visa program is essential to Indian students at NYU.  At the undergraduate level, the average tuition cost is approximately $70,000 a year, excluding living expenses. If the Indian conversion rate is taken into account, an Indian family spends approximately Rs 46,51,500 per year for their child to study at NYU. Families pay for their children to study in the U.S. with the belief of better opportunities, but without H1-B visas employment is an unfulfilled dream. Trump’s populist message of abolishing the H1-B program is an insult to the sacrifices made by Indian families to pursue a better future in America.

In familiar fashion, Trump soon contradicted himself in a Fox News interview.

“You know,” Trump said, “they go to Harvard, they are first in their class and they’re from India they go back to India and they set up companies and they make a fortune and they employ lots of people and all of that. Many people want to stay in this country and then want to do that. I think somebody that goes through years of college in this country we shouldn’t kick them out the day they graduate, which we do.”

But Trump’s uncertainty offers little comfort. Indian students at NYU and elsewhere in America will not take risks and jump hurdles to reach the U.S. if those who could potentially hold the keys to the H1-B visa program cannot decide if the American Dream is a fantasy reserved only for whites.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Pranati Wadhawan at [email protected]

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I love the entitlement:
    1) The idea that foreigners (of any origin) are somehow entitled to domestic jobs (in any country) is simply moronic. So long as there are sovereign nations, citizens needs will always trump foreigners needs.
    2) The fact that the number of international students has doubled is an argument in favor of reducing visas. Domestic students (who’s wealth earned by a degree is significantly more likely to stay domestic) are being cut out by rich foreigners (who are significantly more likely than citizens to take their wealth out of the country)
    3) You are not forced by anyone to attend an expensive American university. Your family’s “sacrifice” comes from a decision to pursue a $70,000 degree, instead of a cheaper one from a different university. There are many good universities that do not have such a high pricetag, and if you choose to attend, you can’t hold that over people’s heads.

    If wealthy, well-educated Americans began entering foreign countries to occupy high status positions that a citizen of said country could occupy, I would argue against it as well. This idea that countries (especially the US) are somehow obligated to people who are not it’s citizens is simply not the basis of democracy. If you care to work and live in the US, I suggest you begin the process of becoming a citizen. I’m aware of how long and difficult that is, but you’re complaining about the symptom instead of addressing the disease, and I don’t sympathize with the idea that a nation somehow owes foreigners anything.

  2. Also the “make America white again” comment:

    Do you know how many black workers lost jobs due to Mexican immigration in California? Or how many Indian Americans are being edged out by international students?

    The fact that you think that this is a plot to benefit white people at the expense of minorities is really offensive. It’s as if you’re saying blacks, Hispanics, Indians, native Americans, or any other minority are not impacted by foreign competition in the job market. As if they can’t occupy positions high enough to care about foreign university students entering the job market. News flash: there are minorities in America who go to university and hope to get top positions too, and they are just as likely as white students to have those top positions filled by a foreigner. They are just as ambitious and interested in success and working as white people. To make it white vs. everyone else it’s as if you’re saying minority students are unable to or uninterested in becoming professors, CEOs, or investment bankers. Your bigotry of low expectations is astonishingly patronizing.
    It’s not white vs. everyone else
    It’s citizens vs. foreigners
    And last I checked, minorities in America need jobs too.

  3. As an international student from a not-so-well-off European country, I find it mildly disrespectful that you decide to focus solely on Indian students at NYU as the ones struggling to attend this institution and the ones that need the H1-B program. Don’t get me wrong; I wholeheartedly agree that we need the H1-B program since my future is dependent on it as well, but to say “the American Dream is a fantasy reserved only for whites” is just a slap in the face to white international students and their families who are struggling to fund their American educations. We go through the same exact immigration struggle as non-white international students and ignoring that fact is disparaging. You can say the American dream is reserved for American citizens, but when it comes to international students and H1-B visas, which by the way are distributed by a random lottery, has very little to do with country of origin and race. Just my two cents on this issue.

  4. I see a lot of comments on “entitlement mentality of non Americans” i.e. ” How dare they?”

    I can understand the reasoning behind people thinking that way and will try to see if I can address it.

    1) Americans first: agreed! For folks who are not aware of how the visa process works , Americans were always always , did I say always , yip I said always first. for a company hiring on h1b. An international student has to convince an employer to file for h1b on April 1st if he/she has to stay in US. For a person with zero Experience , convincing an employer to go through the immigration hassle along with your ability to add value to their company is a lot of work. 95%of the positions posted in the university job portals from companies that want to hire students list “only for Americans”

    2) You can ask me if you say the companies check first and give Americans priority then how do these international students get jobs? The answer is international students tend to pick up majors Americans don’t want to do eg: computer engineering etc.. Americans think that if they get into finance or consulting or medicine or law they can make way more money ( can’t blame them it is true ) In short internationals pick up jobs that Americans don’t want to do . You can say “he he ,good one there are a lot of American stem grads. who are you kidding” well that is true but the internationals who get the jobs are more motivated and hard working than their American counterparts. The real motivated and hard working American students end up in financie or consulting or medicine etc.. Meaning companies just want top notch talent.

    3) Legally immigrate: going to a us univ shows that the person is educated and is committed to the country. I am not sure how you can convince anyone more than spending a lot of your own money to commit to a country. Another way is marrying an American . Hmm I don’t want to go into the second way.

    3) The author of this article came off all wrong : All the international students ask a form of transparency in the immigration process. If us wants to restrict skilled immigration , bad luck to the aspiring students but at least they know what to expect before making one of the most expensive decisions in their entire life. Regarding the white people part; it takes about 10-15 years for Indians , Chinese, and Koreans to get a green card whereas for many smaller countries with similar racial demography ( eg Bangladesh) it takes a lot less time because the queue is based on the country and I think the author is upset due to the reason.

    PEACE

  5. Very well written. As regards the comments here is my perspective: What made America great was that it was the land of opportunity and immigration. America belonged to the aboriginals and anyone who came after that was an immigrant. There were many very talented immigrants along the decades and centuries that made America the strongest country in the world. There is not a single field where a talented immigrants has not excelled and brought recognition to America. Donald Trump (who is often flippant and contradicts himself in almost everything he says) wants to have an immigration policy designed on shutting down America based on principles of fear and gives a sense that he believes that the American education system is somehow inferior and cannot produce domestic students who can compete with international students on a level playing field ? We should all remember what made America great ..not protectionism and shutting down its borders but the culture of welcoming the best talent and resources from across the world and harnessing that into building some of the world best organisations and innovations.
    The author has made a very valid point and raised a genuine concerns that students from her part of the world may have !!

    PS @ Duke : You have it all wrong. You believe American companies or organisation would be a world leader with an American only / Domestic only / International phobic
    Secondly white privilege exists and in America as much as anywhere else. It’s time to get out of denial and fix things !

  6. Poorly written. Instead of focusing on your POV do one with economy and hard facts. H1B workers don’t take minimum wage jobs ,which are stereotyped to Latinos & black people. They are highly educated [Masters/PhD] have higher pay jobs. Silicon valley has 30% entrepreneur foreign born, they create more jobs than take them. Misuse of H1B hurts everyone including the workers add a point on that.

  7. I think the author has just stated a few facts and concerns about how international students may be affected with focus on Indian students. What she really intends to say is that if a student decided to spend such resources and comes to America to study, it’s really important to the student and it’s a no brainer that the student regards the country, it’s people and respects it’s democracy. But if that should undergo a change, it’s a waste of time and energy for such students. And undoubtedly, if universities are giving admissions to many international students with the number going up every year, the universities also find value in admitting these students.
    It’s a straight article guys!

  8. Being an international student isn’t easy, given our complex culture and language. Assistance must come from numerous sources to aid these young people embarking on life’s journey. A new award-winning worldwide book/ebook that reaches out to help anyone coming to the US is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It is used in foreign Fulbright student programs and endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors. It also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they’ve contributed to our society, including students.
    A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with a confusing new culture, friendship process and daunting classroom differences. Some stay after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work with/for an American firm here or overseas.
    It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here.
    Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, host families, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and informative books to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study!

  9. Global companies dont care from where you come from if you have the ability to print money for them.

    @Duke Maybe you should ask apple why they manufacture iphone in China and then hoard all their cash abroad.

  10. Actually I forgot to mention . You want to solve the competition in the job market. It is not by long wait times for these internationals to get a green card i.e. 15 years. You do not allow them to start their own companies . I personally was able to get a venture capitalist to fund our teams’ idea but due to visa restrictions, I was not able to proceed further.

    It is not about whether all the ventures are successful. If a fraction of it works then it is a huge job opportunity for citizens.

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