The American tech communities, both employers and employees have been outspoken about the broken immigration system. Many people have been talking about facts for years and arguing about how it hurts the American tech sector and ruined the life of millions of immigrant tech workers, mostly Indians. Unfortunately, these people are just wasting their time. The immigration system is never about economy or justice. It’s all about keeping American white without saying so. I call it a system of racism with moral high ground.
To understand the American immigration system today, we must understand the history of the system. Before the 1965 immigration act, the US had a quota system that gave a set amount of immigration visas to each country. The quota was set with the idea that the Northwestern Europeans, or Germanic peoples, are racially superior than other Europeans, let alone people of color. This is the same idea as Nazi Germany’s ideology. Before 1965, Northwestern European countries like Germany got about 65000 visas per country per year, Italy and Poland got about 1500 each, while the whole Asian continent was barred from immigration.
Everything looked good. It was difficult to reverse the 14th amendment and expel families who were already here because it means denying the justification of the civil war. But thank God. There were no more new Cantonese or Japanese immigrants as in the 19th century, and the number Italians and Poles dropped significantly.
Things began to change because of World War II and the Cold War. How could America justify the war against Nazi Germany if its immigration system, one of the most important pieces of its legal system, was base on the same ideology? How could America justify the war against Japan, if America single-handedly vetoed the racial equality clause 22 years ago, and the Japanese were going to free Indians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders (including Hawaiian) from people who think they are inferior? How can America stop countries converting to communism, if the American ideology includes racism while communism believes hardworking and merit is more important than national backgrounds?
In 1965, at the height of the cold war, America began to pretend it is not racist. However, they didn’t want to take in too many non-white immigrants either. “We can’t make sure people with merits are white,” the lawmakers thought, “but we are pretty sure white people’s relatives are mostly white.” So they invented the current system where more than 80% of immigration visas are family based. (By comparison, 2/3 of Canada’s immigration visas are given to skilled immigrants in 2017.) They thought with the racial make up of 1965, this setup would ensure most of the new immigrants are white. “Unfortunately”, as we know today, this approach backfires by bringing much more Latinos than whites because Europeans are less interested in immigration and they have less extended families now.
Another thing is the 7% national quota based on birthplace. This still works pretty well today to keep non-white out: undesired group, like Mexican will need to wait more than 20 years for family visas and Indians need to wait more than 150 years to get their EB visas. And they can still claim that there is no racial discrimination because every country, no matter if it is China or the Principality of Liechtenstein, gets the same number of visas.
The third thing is the diversity visa lottery, it was first designed to legalize illegal Irish immigrants in the 1980s. After giving green cards to most of the white illegal immigrants, they modify this program after the “successful” 7% quota system. By claiming that this visa is for diversity, it can exclude Chinese, Indians and Mexicans from this type of visa. As we all know today, this backfires too because African has a lot of small countries as well. It became the most important source of black immigrants.
What Trump want to do is to make America white again. To achieve this goal, there are three things he could do: cut family based visa, cancel the diversity visa program, and decrease the number of refugees and asylees. That’s exactly what he is trying to do right now in his immigration reform proposal. The H1B/EB visa system is the only thing that works well for him: Chinese and Indians are blocked by the 7% quota; other undesirables like blacks and Latinos don’t produce many qualified immigrants; whites from Europe and Canada can still get green cards in two years. There is no reason for him to alter this system.
Sometimes I feel sad when I see some Indian or Chinese people believing Trump wants to make America great again and setup a merit based immigration system. If you know the plot is to make America white again, you will know that Trump will keep the H1B/EB system as is, if not making it worse.
- Some people claimed that tech companies like the current system because the backlog would turn H1B workers into indentured servants, for whom stop serving means punishment of exile. This is only partially true because the tech companies want all immigrants to become indentured servants, regardless of their nation of origin. And they want more indentured servants, which require more H1B visas. Unfortunately the United States governments are ignoring the urge of the tech companies. H1B visas are still far too few for the tech industry and all immigrants from small countries do not face backlogs.
- Some people say America can solve the tech worker shortage problem by training more Americans. Unfortunately this is not possible. The reason is unpleasant but you have to face it: not everyone is smart enough to become a programmer. I highly doubt if half of the doctors and lawyers in America can understand recursion and pointers, let alone those bigots who are stupid enough to believe that education is the answer.
- If America wants to get whiter and keep the moral high ground at the same time, the correct way is simply doing what is morally right and forgetting about the white part. Getting rid of crime and police brutality so people from Norway would not be scared of living in America. Stop treating immigrants like enemies so people from Germany would not feel too bothersome to take a job in the US. The worse America treat immigrants, the worse immigrants America would get because anyone who is good enough to have alternatives would not want to come to America and be treated this way. Unfortunately Donald Trump does not understand this and keep the old trajectory. I would not be surprised that America accelerates its process of becoming a white minority country under Donald Trump. And I am more than happy to see that because that’s what they ask for.