Thesis: The present immigration policies of the United States towards education immigration are creating the possibility of racial unrest. With large numbers of Indian and Chinese students coming to the US to study and subsequently get employed, the economic prosperity of these communities is rising, leading to racial antagonism.
- Present immigration policies in the United States are allowing students to get admission to universities from countries like China and India in large numbers, and subsequently apply for jobs here.
- Baum and Flores have found a definite link between higher education and migration
- Orozco, et al showed a definite connection between the access to education and improvement in economic conditions for subsequent generations among Hispanic immigrants.
- Bonacich found a definite link between the relative economic prosperity and level of racial antagonism between racial and ethnic groups, mainly where the immigrant group is seen to be economically better off.
- This creates a situation parallel to that of the Jews in Europe in the 1930s, which led to the rise of Nazism.
- Similar racial antagonism can be seen taking place against Indian students in Australia in 2009, based on research by Spolc and Lee.
- Racial unrest has been on the rise in the US since the economic downturn and has escalated in the last couple of years, according to Constantini.
- Present education immigration policies of the government are therefore likely to lead to racial unrest. This situation requires resolution in the near future as minor ethnic communities start playing a bigger role in American business and politics as well as in common society.
Every year, thousands of students from countries around the world gain admission to College and University programs across developing and developed countries in order to improve their future career prospects. Universities and in fact entire countries spend millions of dollars every year to woo international students to their programs, mainly for the earnings in fees that they bring. Many universities have affiliates and tie-ups with organizations, the so-called education counselors, to promote their universities to students. While countries welcome these immigrants with open arms, (mainly due to the revenue they bring) their labor immigration programs are designed to keep out qualified professionals of the same or better caliber in the belief that these will hurt the employment of citizens. Countries selectively identify categories of professionals (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.) whom they would like to allow in order ensuring job safety for their citizens. This has the effect of creating an artificial society that will one day generate a backlash of racial hatred similar to the ones against the Jews in the 1930s. The thesis question then becomes:
The present immigration policies of the United States towards education immigration are creating the possibility of racial unrest.
2 Education as a Driver for migration
Migration of population across the world has been due to a variety of reasons- personal, political, and financial. In recent times, the need to develop a better future has driven thousands of students to seek education opportunities outside their own countries. This can be due to a multitude of reasons. One of the key reasons is to avail of the economic opportunities offered by the host country on completion of the education. For example, thousands of students from countries like India and China come to the United States every year for the Masters programs. This is mainly due to the fact that universities in the United States are some of the biggest and offer wide-ranging learning opportunities. It is also in no small measure, due to the fact that with a US degree, they are able to apply and work in companies in the US, using employment visas (Dustmann and Glitz, 16). While the US has been putting restrictions on the number of employment visas it gives every year to qualified and experienced professionals (it is usually capped at 60,000 every year), it allows students who have studied in the US to apply for employment visas under a separate category not governed by this limit (US Immigration, 1). In addition, the kind of salary they would earn in the US outstrips anything their home country can offer, barring a select few opportunities.
In effect, these students are seeking career opportunities in the US, and can get them by investing in a higher secondary or college education in US academic institutions (Baum and Flores, 177). To do so, parents are investing years of hard-earned savings to ensure their children have access to a better future. Parents invest savings equivalent to several years of income in order to send their children to universities abroad for a better opportunity and career.
3 Government Policies having an impact on the racial composition
Given the large proportion of student immigrants from countries like China and India, it becomes clear that these communities are prospering in the US. The country’s own immigration policies are the primary reason for this. These policies are driven by not only by political but also economic considerations. Immigrant students bring in revenue in the form of fees that they pay to institutions, while local students have a significantly reduced fee structure. Universities therefore prefer adding more foreign students in order to increase their earnings, to improve their own fiscal position. Earnings from foreign students’ fees are therefore an increasing portion of universities earnings and they would like to see these continue.
Therefore, the payment of student fees effectively becomes an admission fee for immigrants to access the labor markets of the US (Orozco, et al, 614). From this, we can conclude that the United States prefers immigrants who have studied in its institutions and have already contributed to the economy of the country before giving them access to career opportunities. However, after the completion of their education, these students need some way to recoup the enormous fees that they have paid in order for their parents to send them for higher studies. Therefore, these foreign students are forming an increasing percentage of the white collar workforce in the country, thereby raising the economic profile of their respective communities’ vis-à-vis the native population. Having lived and worked in the United States, these students are then reluctant to return to their native countries where career opportunities are relatively less rewarding than the US.
As a result, a larger proportion of the immigrants are able to achieve economic prosperity. As these communities become economically more influential, their presence can be seen in the areas of business, politics and other areas of public interest. This creates a perception that the immigrants are doing well at the expense of the country’s citizens. This can create “ethnic antagonism” (Edna Bonacich, 555), in times of economic hardship when immigrant communities are felt to be better off economically than the local population. This in turn creates a feeling of unfairness and exploitation among the native citizens, mainly among the economically weaker sections who see these immigrants as taking over opportunities they were originally entitled to get. This in turn can result in the creation of feelings of hatred for communities that reach this kind of prosperity.
4 Justification of Immigration policies
While this scenario was being created, the logic of the policies that facilitated it needs to be questioned. America has always been the land of opportunity for many. Essentially, it is a country settled by migrants from Europe and other places who helped build it into one of the greatest nations on the planet today. It has done this by opening its doors to talented and hard-working individuals irrespective of their color, race and religious affiliation. This has been the key that drives the success of the US today and will continue to do so in the near future.
However, as the demand for more and more people to enter the country has kept on increasing every year, the United States had no option but to define laws and rules to control immigration. These try to achieve a balance between attracting the kind of talented people that the country needs with the necessity to ensure livelihood for its existing citizens. As a result, the immigration policies attract immigrants who are highly talented and hardworking. Indians and Chinese, due to the possession of these traits and the size of their respective populations have been the largest communities to avail of these opportunities. This over time means that the demographic profile of these communities continues to improve, with them being more visible among the white-collar workforce and among communities of home-owners, etc. Unfortunately, they are also the most noticeable among the communities of immigrants as compared to Europeans or those of African or Latin American heritage, traditional immigrant communities already having a significant presence in the US.
As the number of Chinese and Indian immigrants settling down in the US has increased, their presence in business and politics has become more visible. Politicians like Governor Bobby Jindal, and numerous entrepreneurs like Sabeer Bhatia have made a name for themselves in America. While this is advantageous to the United States as a whole and speaks volumes of the opportunities available, it can also adversely affect the way these communities are seen by the rest of the population. As their presence grows, feelings of dislike and hatred can manifest themselves with increasing frequency.
5 Drawing parallels with Europe before World War II
After the First World War, Germany went through a difficult time as all its resources were appropriated by the victorious countries. Hitler came to prominence by playing on the people’s sentiments against their exploitation. At that point of time, the Jews were essentially second-class citizens, but being a community of traders, were economically better off than the general population, by dint of their hard work. However, their economic prosperity was the key reason they were targeted and made the subject of racial hatred. During the Second World War, over six million Jews lost their lives to the ethnic discrimination programs run by the Nazis, and ultimately led to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
Today, Indian and Chinese immigrants in the United States and across other countries like the UK and Australia face a similar situation. Due to their education, qualifications and hard work Indians and Chinese have started making their presence felt among the political and business class. Even in the middle class, Indians are seen as being economically better than local Americans. This has led to sporadic racial hate crimes and incidents. This can soon grow to a point where these communities are targeted for what they represent than for any specific crime.
6 Drawing Parallels with Australia
Australia is another well-known international destination for higher studies. Thanks to its relative affordability vis-à-vis the UK and US, it had been gaining ground as an acceptable destination for higher studies. Australian universities went out of their way to woo Indian and Chinese students to their shores. By 2009, Indian and Chinese students made up over 43 per cent of the immigrant student population, and about 2.64 per cent of the total population of Australia (Spolc and Lee, 1). This may seem insignificant statistically, but when compared to the fact that the native Australian aborigines are 2.57 per cent of the population in total (men, women and children of all ages), this takes on significance.
In 2009, the number of attacks on Indian students increased significantly, mainly in Melbourne and Sydney, and came to the notice of the international media. This led to many independent studies of the Indian student population, and the resulting media coverage created panic in the state and national Government that the adverse publicity would affect Australia’s image. Considering that education is the third largest foreign exchange earner in the country, the panic was justified. Things escalated to a point where the Indian government made moves to intervene in the issue. Subsequent years showed a drastic decline in students from India opting for higher education in Australia. Since Indian students are seen as seekers of employment and permanent resident (PR) status (a Green Card is the US equivalent), the perception that the community as a whole being targeted was wholly justified.
The examples of Australia and Jews in Europe are two parallels that can be drawn when trying to understand the question of student immigration and racial discrimination which can affect society. Combining these two examples together, it is clear that this is a possible problem that can happen, mainly in times of great economic unrest. In both cases, economic factors were the underlying cause of the racial unrest that took place. While we would like to think that society has evolved greatly from the days of Hitler, the Australian experience has been a stark reminder that things have not really changed that much.
The growing economic influence of the Indian and Chinese immigrants will most likely lead to a social backlash at some point in time. This will be detrimental to the United States in large measure, affecting its image and standing in the international community. Examples of racial violence have always made news in the United States. In spite of having an African American President, the recent riots in Ferguson showed that racial antipathy still exists (Louis, 1). The same was seen in 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11 as well, with Muslim communities being targeted. While there are no direct statistics on racial incidents against immigrant students, incidences of racial hate crimes against immigrants in general have shown an increasing trend in the past decade (Constantini, 1).
Putting these various facts together, it is a likely scenario that the education immigration policies of the present will at some point of time create a situation of racial and social unrest between the local population and Indian and Chinese communities. The situation represents a potential problem in the making, and needs to be addressed by the governing authorities.
8 Possible Solutions
Based on the observations of various researchers, it is clear that the growing affluence and influence of Indian and Chinese communities is likely to lead to a racial conflict in the United States in the coming years. Similar incidents have already been seen and reported in Australia. However, given the significantly large size and dispersion of the population across the country, similar incidents in the United States would not be noticeable as a significant percentage of the crime statistics, and would therefore be largely ignored by the government and local authorities alike.
Knowing the magnitude of the problem that is developing should help the Government address this issue in a planned and systematic manner. A plan to address these issues is critical if the Government wishes to retain its image and ensure safety to all citizens. Mere policing cannot be the answer to such situations, and it needs a long term solution that will address the needs of all parties concerned. Social awareness, as well as strict measures against racial crimes should be driven by the knowledge that these communities contribute significantly to the fiscal and economic well-being of the country, and the impact of such crimes is likely to be adverse on the country as a whole.
While racial antipathy is not a new subject in the United States, the fact that the next wave of racial conflict may be driven by education and immigration is saddening. Government policies are designed to attract the best and most talented to the country, but they cannot thrive if a social environment hostile to them exists. The Government needs to address this issue at the ground level as well as keeping in mind the long term needs of the country and society at large, and admit that this can be a problem, so that it can seek solutions.
Baum, S and Flores, S (2008) “Higher Education and Children in Immigrant Families”, Princeton Education, Web. retrieved from https://www.princeton.edu/futureofchildren/publications/docs/21_01_08.pdf Accessed 3 November 2014.
In this paper, Sandy Baum a professor of economics at Skidmore College, and stella Flores, assistant professor of higher education and public policy at Vanderbilt University study the impact of education on immigrant families and their children. Their research found that as the percentage of children entering high school increase among immigrant communities, the economic gains are increased dramatically. Asian and Chinese students are more likely to do better than their Mexican and Africans compatriots, even if their parents are from poor socio-economic backgrounds.
Bonacich, E. (1972). “A theory of ethnic antagonism: The split labor market”. American Sociological Review, 37(October), 547-559.
Bonacich in her paper argues that the antagonism between labor groups of different ethnicities is a result of the price differential seen in labor wages acceptable to each group. If one group sees the other undercutting in price and thereby getting a disproportionately larger percentage of the labor wages generated, antagonism results, causing exclusion and clustering to further increase and create tension between the two communities.
Constantini, C (2011) “Anti-Latino Hate Crimes Rise as Immigration Debate Intensifies”, Huffington Post, Web. retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/17/anti-latino-hate-crimes-rise-immigration_n_1015668.html. Accessed 3 November 2014.
Constantini in her opinion post outlines various incidents of racial violence taking place, and argues that over the last decade, the incidence of race-driven crime against minorities, particularly the Hispanic community has been increasing more than the rate of growth of other crimes. The author opines that the growing incidence of crimes indicates a lower tolerance of “outsiders” whom the local consider as infringing on their life, property and job opportunities. This kind of behavior is likely to spark off large scale racial conflict if not controlled.
Dustmann, C and Glitz, A (2011) “Migration and Education”, Norface Migration Discussion Paper No. 2011-11, Web, retrieved from http://www.norface-migration.org/publ_uploads/NDP_11_11.pdf. Accessed 3 November 2014.
Christian Dustmann and Albrecht Glitz in their paper argue that differential returns to skills in origin- and destination country are a main driver of migration. Student migration for education is ultimately driven by the need for better economic returns. This is why the United States is the first destination for students seeking higher education.
Louis, E (2014) “Opinion: Summer 2014, racial divides and ugliness in America”, CNN, Web. retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/03/opinion/errol-louis-ferguson/ Accessed 3 November 2014.
In this opinion piece, CNN journalist Elmer Louis outlines the incidents and aftermath taking place in Ferguson after the killing of a black unarmed youth by white police in August. Along with other documented instances, he argues that in spite of having a black President for two terms, the country is yet to reconcile to its ethnic and racial disparity and this will create more conflicts in the future between all the communities.
Orozco, C, Gaytan, F, Bang, HJ, Pakes J, O’Connor, E and Rhodes, J (2010) “Academic Trajectories of Newcomer Immigrant Youth”, Developmental Psychology, American Psychological Association, Vol. 46, No. 3, 602– 618.
In this paper, the researchers who come from numerous academic institutions and foundations review the academic and growth trajectories of different ages among youth of immigrant communities. They found that school characteristics, family characteristics and individual characteristics are the key factors determining growth trajectory.
Spolc, Peter and Lee, Dr Murray (2009) “Indian students in Australia: victims of crime, racism or the media?” Web, retrieved from http://www.proceedings.com.au/isana/docs/2009/paper_Spolc.pdf. Accessed 3 November 2014.
The paper delves into the incidence of racial hate crimes that took place across Melbourne and Sydney in 2009, wherein college students from the Indian community were the target of racist attacks. The paper looks at the impact of these attacks and whether the attacks showed the Australian community to be apparently racist in its behavior and thinking towards immigrants.
US Immigration (2014) “How the United States Immigration System Works: A Fact Sheet”, Immigration Policy. Web, retrieved from http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts/how-united-states-immigration-system-works-fact-sheet. Accessed 3 November 2014
This data sheet outlines the various clauses and regulations that govern US immigration policies for foreign nationals under various clauses. The education clause is of particular interest to the findings of this paper.