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“America first” and Canada’s approach towards immigration

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The Trump Administration’s recent announcement to suspend work visas–H1B (visas for high skilled professionals), H4B (spouses of H1B visa holders) and L1 Visas (intra company transfers) till the end of the year, has left many professionals on H1B visas high and dry at least for the time being. The decision evinced strong reactions from a number of quarters (apart from employment visas, the US President has also put a pause on the issuance of Green Cards).

Sunder Pichai, CEO of Google, who is of Indian origin himself, was scathing in his criticism of the Trump Administration’s proclamation arguing, that the US economy in general, and the country’s tech sector in particular, has benefitted from its immigration policy (an estimated 2/3rd of H1B visa holders in the US are occupied in ‘computer related’ occupations).It would be pertinent to point out, that Google had submitted an estimated 6,500 H1B applications in 2019

Pichai’s views were echoed by the Chief of US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue

“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses, and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,

Democrat Presidential Candidate, and Former Vice President, Joe Biden in a digital town hall meeting on July 1, 2020, emphatically stated that he would reverse the Trump administration’s recent order, if voted to power, and also made the point, that he would follow a fundamentally different immigration policy from Donald Trump

Factors responsible for Trump Administration’s proclamation

The key propelling factor for the Trump Administration’s decision was the rising unemployment in the US, in the aftermath of the covid 19 pandemic (for the month of May, it was estimated at a little over13% which was lower than the unemployment rate in April 2020 which was closer to 15%).

 Members of the Trump Administration have stated, that the suspension of non immigrant visas will open up over 5,0000 jobs for Americans. The decision was very much in line,with Trump’s thrust on ‘America First’, which according to many commentators played a decisive role in the mercurial Trump performing well in the swing states. Some of the important swing states,  Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin  are in the Mid-West, and are referred to as the ‘Rust belt’ (this region now desolate, due to a combination of factors, was once booming and referred to as a ‘Factory Belt’ in the United States).

Indian official reaction

One country, which is likely to be hit significantly by the Trump Administration’s recent proclamation is India. As of 2019, out of the 3,88,403 visa holders a whopping 72% were Indians. Out of 3,75,000 temporary visa holders and green card holders who will be unable to enter due to the Trump Administration’s announcement a large number are Indians (as a result of the US President’s latest announcement many families have been separated from each other).

The official reaction from India to the Trump Administration’s recent proclamation was guarded. The MEA Spokesperson while commenting on the decision did state, that it will impact the movement of skilled professionals who have made positive contributions to US society. Indian IT Industry body NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Service companies) has dubbed Trump’s recent decision as ‘misguided’, the organization also stated that Indian IT companies have also been employing American and contrary to popular perception it is not just India which will be the loser.

Canada’s immigration Policy

In recent years, due to the new regulations brought about by the Trump Administration with regard to student visas and work visas, Canada has become an attractive destination for Indian students, as well as professionals (Canada has eased out student visas, and also work visas for Science, Technology, Engineering and Management, STEM professionals). In the first four months of 2020, Indians accounted for nearly 1/4th of the total individuals (74000) who were granted Permanent Residency.

Canada has introduced the Global Stream Program, under the Global Skills Strategy program, which makes it easier for companies to recruit talented professionals (through this program, high skilled workers receive a visa within two weeks). A number of US IT companies like Amazon, Facebook, Netflix have expanded their operations since processing of work visas, for IT professionals is much simpler in Canada. Canada has been one of the few countries which even in the aftermath of covid19 has repeatedly stated that it’s pro-immigration policies will not be impacted, and that its pro-immigration policy will play a key role in building a robust economy.

A day after the Trump administration announced its decision to suspend work visas, Canadian IT companies were quick to reach out to individuals who are likely to be hit by the recent order.

The Vice President of Shopify, a Canadian Ecommerce company, Kaz Nejatian mentioned that he had created a resource for individuals impacted by Trump’s recent announcement.

“If you are an engineer whose H1B is in jeopardy, I’ve created a resource to help you avoid Visa troubles and finding fulfilling careers that make the world a better place. Go to H1BEngineer.com or DM me”.

Shopify chief executive and founder Tobi Lutke also reached out to those impacted by Trump’s sudden announcement and said that his company was hiring in different parts of the world.

Not only is Canada likely to attract talented professionals as a result of Trump’s suspension of work visas, but   many Indian companies currently based in US are likely to expand their operations in Canada.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Trump may have taken the decision to cancel non-immigrant visas till the end of the year, due to political considerations and to reiterate the point to his supporters that he is genuinely committed to the slogan of ‘America First’, but as a result of cancellation of H1B visas, Canada’s IT sector is likely to get a further boost. At a time when the whole world is becoming insular and populist nationalism is on the rise more countries need to follow Canada’s approach towards immigration.

Tridivesh Singh Maini is a New Delhi based Policy Analyst associated with The Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India

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Ron Paul: Biden Administration accept that it has a “Zelensky problem”

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Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Last week the world stood on the very edge of a nuclear war, as Ukraine’s US-funded president, Vladimir Zelensky, urged NATO military action over a missile that landed on Polish soil.”

This is a comment from the prominent American political leader Ronald Ernest Paul was for many years the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. Three times he sought the Presidency of the United States: once as the Libertarian Party nominee and twice as a candidate for the Republican Party. He continues in his comment:

“But there was a problem. The missile was fired from Ukraine – likely an accident in the fog of war. Was it actually a Russian missile, of course, that might mean World War III.

‘While Zelensky has been treated as a saint by the US media, the Biden Administration, and both parties in Congress, something unprecedented happened this time: the Biden Administration pushed back. According to press reports, several Zelensky calls to Biden or senior Biden Staff went unanswered.

‘The Biden Administration went on to publicly dispute Zelensky’s continued insistence that Russia shot missiles into NATO-Member Poland. After two days of Washington opposition to his claims, Zelensky finally, sort of, backed down.

‘We’ve heard rumors of President Biden’s frustration over Zelensky’s endless begging and ingratitude for the 60 or so billion dollars doled out to him by the US government, but this is the clearest public example of the Biden Administration’s acceptance that it has a “Zelensky problem.”

‘Zelensky must have understood that Washington and Brussels knew it was not a Russian missile.

‘Considering the vast intelligence capabilities of the US in that war zone, it is likely the US government knew in real time that the missiles were not Russian. For Zelensky to claim otherwise seemed almost unhinged. And for what seems like the first time, Washington noticed.

‘As a result, there has been a minor – but hopefully growing – revolt among conservatives in Washington over this dangerous episode. Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene introduced legislation demanding an audit of the tens of billions of dollars shipped to Ukraine – with perhaps $50 billion more in the pipeline.

‘When the Ukraine war hysteria finally dies down – as the Covid hysteria died down before it – it will become obvious to vastly more Americans what an absolute fiasco this whole thing has been,” writes Ron Paul.

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The G20 is dead. Long live the G20

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The seventeenth G20 Heads of State and Government Summit held in Bali, Indonesia, on 15–16 November stands out as a consequential event from many angles. The international politics is at an inflection point and the transition will not leave unaffected any of the institutions inherited from the past that is drifting away forever. 

However, the G20 can be an exception in bridging time past with time present and time future. The tidings from Bali leave a sense of mixed feelings of hope and despair. The G20 was conceived against the backdrop of the financial crisis in 2007 — quintessentially, a western attempt to burnish the jaded G7 by bringing on board the emerging powers that stood outside it looking in, especially China,  and thereby inject contemporaneity into global discourses. 

The leitmotif was harmony. How far the Bali summit lived up to that expectation is the moot point today. Regrettably, the G7 selectively dragged extraneous issues into the deliberations and its alter ego, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), made its maiden appearance in the Asia-Pacific. Arguably, the latter must be counted as a fateful happening during the Bali summit. 

What happened is a negation of the spirit of the G20. If the G7 refuses to discard its bloc mentality, the cohesion of the G20 gets affected. The G7-NATO joint statement could have been issued from Brussels or Washington or London.  Why Bali? 

The Chinese President Xi Jinping was spot on saying in a written speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Bangkok on November 17 that “The Asia-Pacific is no one’s backyard and should not become an arena for big power contest. No attempt to wage a new cold war will ever be allowed by the people or by the times.” 

Xi warned that “Both geopolitical tensions and the evolving economic dynamics have exerted a negative impact on the development environment and cooperation structure of the Asia-Pacific.” Xi said the Asia-Pacific region was once a ground for big power rivalry, had suffered conflicts and war. “History tells us that bloc confrontation cannot solve any problem and that bias will only lead to disaster.”

The golden rule that security issues do not fall within the purview of G20 has been broken. At the G20 summit, the western countries held the rest of the participants at the Bali summit to ransom: ‘Our way or no way’. Unless the intransigent West was appeased on Ukraine issue, there could be no Bali declaration, so, Russia relented. The sordid drama showed that the DNA of the western world hasn’t changed. Bullying remains its distinguishing trait.

But, ironically, at the end of the day, what stood out was that the Bali Declaration failed to denounce Russia on the Ukraine issue. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey give reason for hope that G20 can regenerate itself. These countries were never western colonies. They are dedicated to multipolarity, which will ultimately compel the West to concede that unilateralism and hegemony is unsustainable. 

This inflection point gave much verve to the meeting between the US President Joe Biden and the Chinese President Xi Jinping at Bali. Washington requested for such a meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, and Beijing consented. One striking thing about the meeting has been that Xi was appearing on the world stage after a hugely successful Party Congress. 

The resonance of his voice was unmistakable. Xi underscored that the US has lost the plot, when he told Biden: “A statesman should think about and know where to lead his country. He should also think about and know how to get along with other countries and the wider world.” (here and here)

The White House readouts hinted that Biden was inclined to be conciliatory. The US faces an uphill challenge to isolate China. As things stand, circumstances overall work to China’s advantage. (here , here and here)

The majority of countries have refused to take sides on Ukraine. China’s stance amply reflects it. Xi told Biden that China is ‘highly concerned’ about the current situation in Ukraine and support and look forward to a resumption of peace talks between Russia and China. That said, Xi also expressed the hope that the US, NATO and the EU ‘will conduct comprehensive dialogues’ with Russia.   

The fault lines that appeared at Bali may take new forms by the time the G20 holds its 18th summit in India next year. There is reason to be cautiously optimistic. First and foremost, it is improbable that Europe will go along with the US strategy of weaponising sanctions against China. They cannot afford a decoupling from China, which is the world’s largest trading nation and the principal driver of growth for the world economy. 

Second, much as the battle cries in Ukraine rallied Europe behind the US, a profound rethink is under way. Much agonising is going on about Europe’s commitment to strategic autonomy. The recent visit of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to China pointed in that direction. It is inevitable that Europe will distance itself from the US’ cold war aspirations. This process is inexorable in a world where the US is not inclined to spend time, money or effort on its European allies.

The point is, in many ways, America’s capacity to provide effective global economic leadership has irreversibly diminished, having lost its pre-eminent status as the world’s largest economy by a wide margin. Besides, the US is no longer willing or capable of investing heavily in shouldering the burden of leadership. Simply put, it still has nothing on offer to match China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This should have had a chastening influence and prompted a change of mindset toward cooperative policy actions, but the American elite are stuck in the old groove.

Fundamentally, therefore, multilateralism has become much harder in the present-day world situation. Nonetheless, the G20 is the only game in town to bring together the G7 and the aspiring developing countries who stands to gain out of a democratised world order. The western alliance system is rooted in the past. The bloc mentality holds little appeal to the developing countries. The gravitation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia toward the BRICS conveys a powerful message that the western strategy in conceiving the G20 — to create a ring of subaltern states around the G7 — has outlived its utility. 

The dissonance that was on display in Bali exposed that the US still clings to its entitlement and is willing to play the spoiler. India has a great opportunity to navigate the G20 in a new direction. But it requires profound shifts on India’s part too –away from its US-centric foreign policies, coupled with far-sightedness and  a bold vision to forge a cooperative relationship with China, jettisoning past phobias and discarding self-serving narratives, and, indeed, at the very least, avoiding any further descent into beggar-thy-neighbour policies.

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President Biden under fire

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Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz

Republicans announced that they are launching an investigation that will focus on President Biden himself and any illicit or unethical financial ties he had to his son Hunter’s overseas dealings, writes “The Daily Mail”.

Now Joe Biden and his family are facing an onslaught of subpoenas from the House majority members, who say they know where the proverbial bodies are buried.

Rep. James Comer led the press conference, where he made clear that the president himself was the target of the House GOP’s probe. He is a ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, will have the power to issue legally-backed demands for documents, information and testimony once the 188th Congress begins on January 3.

The congressman laid out his plans to use that power to go after the Bidens for alleged wire fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, illegal foreign lobbying and defrauding the government.

The evidence Comer is currently combing through, and is seeking to claw via subpoena, could ultimately result in articles of impeachment for the president and prison for the First Son.

Comer is also asking the Treasury for copies of more than 150 suspicious activity reports (SARs) involving the Bidens, filed by banks under anti-financial crime laws, that could be key to tracing the flows of foreign funds to the family’s coffers.

Amid all the shocking messages involving Joe Biden, possibly the most important email of the 154,000 on Hunter’s abandoned laptop is the infamous ‘big guy’ email, suggesting that the president was secretly involved in, and set to profit from, an alleged Chinese influence operation.

In total Joe met with fifteen of Hunter’s business associates according to White House visitor logs and records from the First Son’s laptop.

Emails on Hunter’s abandoned laptop published by DailyMail.com show that Hunter and Joe paid each other’s bills, and Hunter’s business partner Eric Schwerin did Joe’s taxes and visited the then-VP at the White House at least 27 times.

Joe also hosted Hunter’s best friend, business partner and now convicted fraudster Devon Archer at the White House just days before Archer and Hunter were appointed to the Burisma board (Ukraine) in 2014.

Archer was entertained at the West Wing on April 16 2014 according to visitor logs. Joe traveled to Kiev five days later on April 21. The next day, Archer joined the Ukrainian gas company’s board. On April 28, British officials froze $23million in accounts belonging to Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky, accusing him of fraud. The following month Hunter also joined the gas firm’s board.

Soon we may see some ugly tricks of Biden’s Ukrainian friends revealed…

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