Donald Trump’s anti-immigration move | HT Editorial
India should seek to institutionalise the immigrant relationshipUpdated: Jun 23, 2020 20:31 IST
With United States (US) President Donald Trump suspending new H-1B and L-1 visas for temporary workers until December, the main immigration highway from India to the US is closed, hopefully temporarily. Over half these visas go to Indians. The orders do not affect the underlying visa legislation. But his action is a reminder that immigration is a sovereign issue, visas will be inevitably caught up in anti-globalisation fervour, and highly-skilled migrants are no longer immune to political pot-shots. Mr Trump’s motivations are obvious. His poll numbers are sagging. He has raged against illegal migration since he was elected, and, with unemployment at a record high, has turned his guns on legal migration as well.
The economic costs for India will be limited but the real damage is the question mark it raises over the Indian-American immigration story. About half of Indian immigration to the US is linked to skill-based work visas. The Indian-American citizen is a recent phenomenon; their numbers passed the one million mark in 2015. They have emerged as model immigrants. India has also benefited from their success. Indian-Americans are among the largest sources of remittances. And they have emerged as advocates of a stronger India-US ties. Which is why New Delhi needs to be more active in institutionalising the immigrant relationship, for example, including a H visa quota in a future trade agreement, rather than leaving it to the whims of Donald Trump.