Hardline U.S. Immigration Policies Spur Indians to Seek Employment in India

February 4, 2018

The thriving U.S. tech industry has long been a linchpin of our nation’s economy, and the steady stream of exciting innovations coming out of Silicon Valley over the past decades have earned us a prominent place on the world stage. But now, the anti-immigration policies of the Trump Administration are threatening the futures of the highly skilled and educated Indian immigrants who have played such a pivotal role in the rise of our nation as a tech giant. And they are responding by taking their talents elsewhere.

New data provided by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a multinational professional services firm, has revealed a tenfold increase in the number of Indian-born U.S. residents searching for jobs in India since Trump’s election. According to Deloitte, while just 600 U.S. Indian-born residents were looking for employment in India in December of 2016, the number had skyrocketed to over 7,000 by March 2017. This “brain drain” is further evidenced by the dip in applications for H1B skilled worker visas for the first time in four years, from 236,000 last year to 199,000 this year. [See Trump Has Started a Brain Drain Back to India, by Suzanne Sataline, Foreign Policy, 22.Sep.2017.]

Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian-born entrepreneur and a distinguished fellow at Carnegie Mellon University, recently bemoaned to Foreign Policy that “the platform [Trump] got elected on, that hatred, denigrating other religions, it wasn’t making America great again and uplift the world. It’s ‘we’re going to make America great’ at the cost of the rest of the world. We’re doing long term damage here.” And data from the job search site Indeed.com seems to confirm his fears. In the past year, the percentage of people in India seeking jobs in the United States on the site has decreased by 38 percent, while a reverse job search for positions in India has seen a 25 percent rise. Managing director at Indeed India, Sashi Kumar, attributes the uptick in interest in Indian jobs to the relative stability of the region. “This new data shows a reversal of the usual job search trend. The steadily growing Indian economy and political uncertainty abroad has persuaded skilled Indian talent to stay at home to find jobs and this in turn has fostered a thriving startup scene,” she explained to Indiatimes. [See Lesser Number of Indians Want to Want to Work in U.S. With Trump’s New Immigration Policies in Place, by staff writer, Indiatimes, 18.Oct.2017.]

If this trend continues, India’s gain will surely be our loss. Our tech industry relies on top talent from India to remain competitive with burgeoning tech markets in Europe and Canada, and Silicon Valley funnels billions of dollars into our economy every year. Perhaps pandering to the worst natures among American voters, Trump’s administration seems intent on viewing Indian H1B seekers as dangerous outsiders to be feared. But if he succeeds in driving them to abandon the U.S. for career opportunities elsewhere, one of our nation’s most important industries could be left in shambles. And that’s a truly scary proposition.

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