Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

April 24, 2010 Arizona becomes a police state

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Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed into law Senate Bill SB1070, which enables law enforcement officers to bypass the protections of the 4th amendment and empowers them to detain and question anyone “suspected” of being an illegal immigrant. [AP]

For those with insomnia, I present to thee the actual contents of aforementioned bill. [AZ SB 1070]

Southwestern states of US have particular been coping with rising number of illegal immigrants. Immigration is an emotional issue and, this so-called solution appears to be an emotional one also. Again putting it in the simplest of terms, the solution appears to be “papers please, brown person”, which could easily include legal immigrants from countries like India, who are often mistaken for Mexicans largely because of skin color. The bill in it’s current format appears to be contradictory to the 4th Amendment, which limits search and seizure by law enforcement officials without a valid warrant. Not only does the bill give sweeping powers to law enforcement officials but also encourages ethnic profiling of anyone who “looks like an immigrant”.

When we tweeted about this, we got responses like the one below:

@uberdesi how is that a police state? anywhere you travel in Europe you need to show ID or passport. #immigration #p2 #tcot

Probably gleaned from some talking head on TV or talk radio, such arguments, to state a cliche, compare apples to papayas. When you bypass constitutional rights to give extra-judicial power to law enforcement, it is called a police state, like it or not. Besides, Europe has countries that are much smaller than some of the states in the United States and no one (at least on here) is arguing against showing the appropriate documents when entering a country. However, this bill encourages demanding “papers” for people who are already here, including legal immigrants, permanent residents and naturalized citizens, because some law official suspected them of being an illegal, all this without a warrant, and that is what makes it unfair and discriminatory.

We are certainly not condoning illegal immigration. But haphazard approaches like Arizona Senate Bill 1070, which dilute liberties and encourage profiling on skin color, are certainly not the solution. So if you happen to be brown skinned, give touristy spots like Grand Canyon, a skip or if so inclined, at least “carry your papers on your person” when you visit the police state of Arizona.

The pickle hating Americans

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I always warn my mother not to bring pickles when visiting here from the des. [Here's why] (tip Runa via email)

A suspicious piece of luggage that the Columbus Bomb Squad detonated Tuesday night at Port Columbus International Airport turned out to be a canister filled with pickled mangoes.

You see Indians are much more conscientious about recycling. So when we are done with a jar of baby food, instead of tossing into the garbage, we recycle. We use it as a container for pickles. Apparently, TSA authorities find such recycling “suspicious”.

The label on the canister was identified as “baby food,” Landers reported. The woman who owned the suitcase was questioned and claimed the canister contained pickles. Her claim made security more suspicious so the bomb squad was called.

Where’s climate evangelist Al Gore when you need him?

In fact authorities found it so suspicious, they took it to a remote corner of the airport and, get this, blew it up! A perfectly good container of homemade mango pickles blown to smithereens on foreign soil. At this stage, we are unable to confirm if the victim was maavadu, maanga tokku or avakai.

On hearing of this tragedy, one of our bloggers had this to say:

“So sad – someone’s Amma carefully made and packed and carried Urugai all the way from the des and the TSA ruthlessly blows it up – chillies all over- red oil splattered around the airport- shrapnel in the form of the hard mango shell ….”

In the war of Indian and American cultures, a line has been crossed.

Demand for H1B visas drying up

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Judging by reports in the Indian media, recession has claimed a victim, the great American H1B1 dream is dead. [BBC]

It’s true. You see, most Indians, your truly included, are notoriously unimaginative when it comes to career choices, tending to go with the “in thing” in traditional fields. Consequently, interest in the professions of choice, and consequently, the great Indian student and professional immigration, has ebbed and flowed with the economy and the impact of the economy on the traditional fields. Right now, faced with the worst recession in the last 50 years or so, Indian student and professional immigration is at it’s nadir.

Besides, lack of job opportunities, other contributing factors include a hostile political environment, tough immigration laws, Lou Dobbs, and the protracted green card process.

But what news reports miss, is the fact that the seeds of the demise of the American H1B1 dream were sown much earlier this decade by outsourcing of non-tech jobs and the booming Indian economy. As home became more attractive to budding professionals, more and more chose to stay back than chase the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the American rainbow.

Most large corporations have stopped hiring. Those covered under TARP even if they’re hiring cannot sponsor H1B visas. Consultants are finding consulting assignments tough to come by. But there are those thriving in the current atmosphere – entrepreneurs and smaller employers. For years, these smaller companies had to compete with the Microsofts and the Infosyses for a limited number of H1B visas. But now with the bigger corporations scaling back, the smaller companies are finding H1B visas easier to come by for their employees.

The good news is for the first time in years, H1B visas are easy to obtain. Good luck finding an employer who’ll sponsor yours.

Green card : No pain, no gain?

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I don’t know how this escaped my notice .As of July 2008, the USCIS has revised list of vaccines required for applicants seeking to adjust status to become legal permanent residents. For those of us who have gone through the process earlier, its not out of the norm to be asked to produce vaccination records or to undergo a TB test. But tucked away in the list of mandatory vaccinations for immigrant women wanting to adjust their status is this one: Human papillomavirus.As far as I know , the only vaccine available against HPV is Gardasil, manufactured by pharma giant Merck.

Its no wonder that several concerned people , including this author are raising questions about why a vaccine aimed at girls between 11 and 26 that is strictly OPTIONAL for US citizens is being made mandatory for immigrant women. From the linked article:

The mandate is a disturbing marriage between anti-immigrant policy and the capitalist ambitions of pharmaceutical giant, Merck, which produces the vaccine. Merck will be cashing checks every time an immigrant woman or girl seeks citizenship in the United States.

Now I find that disturbing and scary. Even if we discount any conspiracies, the mandate is at the least extremely unfair. Immigrant women are basically losing the right over their own bodies. Even worse, immigrant parents lose the right to make informed medical decisions about which preventive treatment they choose to give their female children. As a parent, I can understand how difficult a situation this is for immigrant parents. Unlike full-fledged citizens who get to decide whether their minor daughters need to take the vaccine (which at $ 360 a shot is not inexpensive by any means) , immigrant parents do not get the luxury of choice. Per the article linked to, a single dose of the vaccine is anyway meaningless – at least 3 shots are required and as I mentioned at over three hundred dollars for each , its an additional burden that many immigrants simply cannot afford.

I am curious to know what logic drives the decision to mandate a vaccine for immigrant children but make it optional for US citizens. Is it only the HPV requirement that is linked to a monopoly vaccine? If any of our readers with medical knowledge can educate me if I am missing something , I would be very grateful.

H1B saga: Microsoft v. Grassley and LinkedIn CEO chimes in

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A Senator from a state not exactly among the top when it comes to the number of H1B visa holders, is quickly becoming H1B holders enemy numero uno, Sen. Charles Grassley.

When Microsoft announced layoffs for the first time in it’s history, Grassley couldn’t resist chiming in with his expertise on H1B visas (or lack thereof) and demanded that they layoff H1B visa holders before US citizens. [Read Steve Ballmer's response to Grassley] (Sidhu via email)

Agreeing with Ballmer’s reasoning was CEO of the popular networking site for professionals, Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn. [IndiaTimes]

Among other suggestions, Hoffman suggests lifting the cap on H1B visas and instead using a payroll tax on each visa to help fuel reinvestment in American talent.

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