Lego said that she suspects the tighter scrutiny is at
least partly related to some abuses of the visa process in past years. She also
said that the current immigration law needs to be changed, a feeling echoed by
lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress for the past several years.
Lego's position on the reduced numbers is clearly
supported by the State Department's own numbers. The reasons for the reduced
numbers are taken from anecdotal reports by her firm's clients. But I think the
issue goes much deeper than a poor economy and bureaucratic resistance. After
hearing and reading a number of horror stories of fear among legal visitors, of
abuses of authority on the part of government agents, I suspect that a number
of would-be H-1B applicants think the United States just isn't worth the trouble.
There was the time when the best in the technology
business came to the United States to learn, to grow their skills and to provide
skilled help to our companies in the process. But the mood in the United States has
changed. Punitive procedures in states and counties in the United States make visitors
fear for their freedom and for their livelihood.
In Prince William County,
Va., which is in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, the police are required to
confirm the status of any person who the individual officer thinks may be in
the United States illegally. In the process, they subject legal visitors, as well as U.S.
citizens to interrogations and threats to their freedom if they can't instantly
prove that they're here legally.
Arizona has instituted a similar set of
laws. While the authorities in Arizona may have reason for worry about the
bloody violence of the incessant drug wars in Mexico spilling into their state,
and while they may have a legitimate complaint that the U.S. government isn't
doing enough, subjecting innocent visitors to detention and interrogation isn't
Likewise, independent, perhaps rogue, actions by law
enforcement, such as the border patrol agents at the Newark airport, give the U.S.
a decidedly anti-foreigner look. So perhaps the arbitrary actions by some government
agents, the decidedly anti-immigrant policies in some political jurisdictions, labyrinthine
bureaucratic processes and a lousy job outlook are really a perfect storm. With
all of that, who in their right mind would want to come to the United States?
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