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Opinion 3 News India Times January 17, 2020 EconomistsHaveNo IdeaWhat Replaces FreeTrade O ne of the most interesting sessions I attended at last week's American Economic Associationmeeting was a panel titled "Making global markets work for American workers." The discussion, featuring economists Dani Rodrik, Kimberly Clausing and Josh Bivens, laid out the problems with free trade, the shortcomings of U.S. trade policy during the past few decades and some sugges- tions for improvement. But although the economists did a great job of critiquing the old free-trade consensus, there was no clear idea of what to replace it with. Economists still tend to strongly back trade liberaliza- tion. But the cozy consensus in favor of removing trade bar- riers is eroding. The experience of the China shock, in which a sudden wave of import competition devastated the lives of many Americanmanufacturing workers, was a wake-up call. The bipartisan backlash against trade agree- ments, which threatened to leave economists in the politi- cal wilderness, was another. Economists such as Rodrik and Bivens, who have criticized the free-trade consensus for a long time, are getting heardmore, while free-trade de- fenders such as Clausing are forging more nuanced argu- ments. Economists are starting to agree that free trade has two big weaknesses: unfairness and politics. Ever since the time of David Ricardo, the 18th-century economist who developed the idea of comparative advan- tage, it has been well-known that not everyone benefits when trade barriers fall. If the U.S. is relatively good at mak- ing shoes and Japan is relatively good at making blue jeans, American jeans makers and Japanese shoe companies have good reason to fear a trade agreement between the two countries. This becomes especially dangerous when one country specializes in cheap labor. Bivens, like many others, sus- pects that this is what happened with China - the addition of a billion workers to the global labor force was a bonanza for the rich, who could buy cheaper consumer goods, and a disaster for the middle class in developed nations. As Bivens noted, the U.S. has gradually shifted toward trading with poorer and poorer countries - good for global develop- ment but perilous for many American workers. In the old days, economists tended to address this prob- lemby arguing that the winners from trade should com- pensate the losers. But it's very hard to identify who won and who lost.Was a factory worker put out of a job by China, by automation, by bad corporate decisions, by the decline of unions or the inevitable market shifts? It's possi- ble to simply increase redistributive taxation - and Clausing calls for this - but government checks probably aren't a sat- isfying compensation for a steelworker who suddenly finds his career gone and his skills unwanted. The second problem is that actual trade agreements tend to bear only a passing resemblance to the idealized notion of free trade in an economics textbook. Thanks to lobbying by business interests, real trade agreements are tangles of rules and regulations that can restrain competi- tion. One well-publicized example of this is the investor- state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, designed to shield intellectual property in international markets, which has been roundly criticized as a way to protect corporate profits over the interests of local populations. At the very least, trade policy can be improved by in- creasing redistributive taxation and by removing corporate carve-outs from trade agreements. But there are a number of other problems with textbook free trade that those poli- cies leave unaddressed. For example, Bivens noted that trade agreements might weaken environmental and labor standards at the national level, making it harder for pro- ducers in countries with tougher regulations to compete. The advantages from trade might also be ephemeral - a country that chooses to export natural resources and for- sake manufacturing might have a gain in wealth in the short term, but in the long term it couldmiss out on tech- nological improvement and productivity gains. Economists are beginning to recognize these dangers, but so far there are few credible suggestions for how to deal with themwithout forsaking the very real gains from inter- national trade. Imposing unrealistic rich-country labor standards on poor countries could hurt their development and trap them in poverty. And industrial policy, although spectacularly successful in some cases, is very tricky to get right. - B LOOMBERG By Noah Smith Real Horror For IndianParents InUSAs Children Approach ‘AgingOut’ ImmigrationRule - NEW YORK o understand real meaning of psychological hor- ror, recurring nightmares, and perceived threats on a daily basis, all you have to do is to find an In- dian family living on an H-1B and dependent visa in the United States, as children in their house get ever closer to the dreaded age of 21. Their Green Card is clogged in a long pipeline, years or even tens of years away. If you think the cause of distress for those conservative Indian parents might be worry that their son and daughter would indulge in some frenetic drinking binges at late night clubs, as soon as they turn 21, think again. The anguish and slow creeping terror in that vulnerable Indian family is because of the dread of their child being separated from them, forced to self-deport to the country they were born in, but are almost totally alienated from. Those children are exposed to the “aging out” immigra- tion rule when they reach 21 years of age, lose eligibility to get permanent residency with their parents, and stay in the US. Even if a Green Card does come later for the parents, the children, if they are past 21 years of age, do not qualify. They have to stand in queue all over again, outside of the coun- try, or get onto another immigrant visa, like F-1, or H-1B, to stay on in the US; carry on with life with trepidation, fearing the worst every single day. When you consider the fact that if an H-1B worker from India were to file for a Green Card today, and the current wait time is over 100 years, one gets an inkling of the cruel absurdity of the situation. Now, some Indian parents and their children are fighting back. A group of them – 12 plaintiffs from five families – filed a class action lawsuit on December 27, 2019, in the United States District Court in Portland, Oregon, against the USCIS and the State Department, to let these ‘aging out’ India-born children stay on in the US on a dependent visa, if need be, not be forced to self-deport. The action, brought by and on behalf of all such immi- grant children and their parents, seeks to ensure that provi- sions of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) are applied equally to children regardless of the national origin of their parents. CSPA was enacted in 2002 to prevent minor children from“aging out” when they reach 21 years of age and losing eligibility to immigrate together with their parents. Presently, however, children whose parents are born in India are not protected from aging out due to the applica- tion of per country limitations and national origin-based visa bulletin charts which result in decades long waits, while children with other national origins remain pro- tected. “This disparate treatment of similarly situated children, purely on account of national origin, is unjust and violates the Equal Protection component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said the lawyers fromParrilli Renison LLC, who are repre- senting the plaintiffs. Thousands of Indian families in immigration limbo can relate to the plight of some of the plaintiffs. Take the example of Nitheesha Nakka, a resident of Long Island, NY, who was born in 1994 in India. She came to the US at age four as an H-4 dependent of her father Nagendra Kumar Nakka. She has lived in the US all her life since that time. When Nitheesha was in high school and planning for college, she was barred from applying to internships, re- search programs and scholarships due to her visa status, causing herself and her family hardship, both financial and mental, said the lawsuit. These problems persisted throughout college and gradu- ate school. She finished undergraduate with a major in eco- nomics and earned four job offers at very good companies, but all four rescinded their offers after learning she needed visa sponsorship for a work visa. Now, she fears separation fromher family, forced to go back to India. Or take the case of the brothers GirijeshThodupunuri and Ravi Vathsal Thodupunuri, who came to the US when Girijesh was 7 years old and Ravi was 11, and have lived in Oregon since then. Now they fear being forced out of the US. OrVishal Addagatla, who was born in 1998 in India, and came to the US at age 8 as an H-4 dependent of his father Rajeshwar Addagatla. He is now over 21 years of age and was forced to change fromH-4 to F-1 student status to re- main lawfully in the United States, to attend Illinois Insti- tute of Technology. Then there’s the case of Venkata SatyaVenu Battula, who was sponsored by his employer for an H-1B work visa. He brought his minor son Sandeep Battula in 2003 when his son was 6 years old, and his minor daughter when she was 3 years old. He was sponsored for permanent resident sta- tus by his employer in the EB-3 category onMay 9, 2008. He was granted lawful permanent resident status in February 2019, along with his wife and his 19-year-old daughter, but his son Sandeep was considered aged out, not eligible for a Green Card. After waiting since 2008, Sandeep nowwaits again in line, with his new priority date shifted to 2019. Then there’s Pavani Peddada, who was born in 1999 in India, and came to the US at age 6 as an H-4 dependent of her father Siva Peddada. She is currently completing her undergraduate studies at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware, and faces many challenges with the re- newal of her driver’s license due to her status. “No legitimate purpose can be served by giving less con- sideration to Plaintiffs whose ties with this country are longstanding and sanctioned by special provisions enacted by Congress to permit their long residence, than to those who have never even touched foot on United States soil,” said the lawyers for the plaintiffs, in the lawsuit. In an interview to Forbes magazine this week, Brent Renison, the lead attorney in the case and a partner at Par- rilli Renison LLC, admitted that the case could go on for years. “It is unfair to punish these children and their families for their national origin,” he said. Renison pointed out the discrimination faced by thou- sands of Indian families in the US: “Our values as a nation are at stake here. Do we continue to permit discrimination against families based upon their national origin, denying them the legal right to remain with their families in the United States after they’ve come as young children and re- ceived all their schooling here, while at the same time granting recent arrivals, or even those who haven’t come to the United States before, preferential treatment based on where they were born? Sujeet Rajan is Executive Edi tor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: Follow him on Twitter: @SujeetRajan1 T Sujeet Rajan Executive Editor Parikh Worldwide Media