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Opinion 3 News India Times December 22, 2017 - NEW YORK he holidays are ruined for tens of thousands of im- migrant families in the US. Ominous rumors, speculation and warnings from immigration ex- perts and lawyers have finally come true: the Trump Administration has shown their hand after months of remaining stoic. They are moving forward to terminate the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or work permit, for H-4 visa workers - given to spouses and dependents of H-1B visa workers – in 2018. The protectionist and obnoxious move by theWhite House, to curb and kill the aspirations of skilled profes- sionals who have been living in the US for years or decades on an H-4 visa, is yet another trashing of an Obama Ad- ministration rule. It’s also yet another slap in the face of skilled immigrants, who are increasingly on a slippery slope till they get a Green Card, or permanent residency. The Trump Administration issued a notice, titled ‘Re- moving H-4 Dependent Spouses from the Class of Aliens Eligible for Employment Authorization’, on December 14, as part of its ‘Unified Agenda’, a bi-annual list of regulations by various federal agencies. In it, the administration plans to propose an official rule in the Federal Register by Febru- ary, 2018, and thereafter all existing EADs given to H-4 visa holders will be trashed, and no new ones will be issued. The move has been hanging in balance for more than two years now, after a group called Save Jobs USA filed a lawsuit in April 2015 arguing that EAd to H-4 visa holders threatens American jobs, and pulls down salaries. It gained momentum after Trump became president, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared the H-4 EAD rule “hurts American workers.” In February this year, the Trump Ad- ministration asked for a 60-day pause to allow the new ad- ministration to assess the case. In issuing the statement, which is sure to see a lot of highly skilled women break into tears, go into emotional distress, the Department of Homeland Security didn’t cite any reason, saying only it was acting "in light of" the "Buy American, Hire American" executive order that Trump signed in April. The rule to give EAD to some H-4 visa holders was met with elation by tens of thousands of mostly women, a lot of them from India, who got freedom to legally work and earn money for their family. They rejoiced, felt they finally ‘be- longed’ in America; were not second-class citizens, who could become a wife and mother at their free will, but were prohibited by the government to work, unless to do volun- tary service for no pay in their local community. Indians are the largest holders of H-4 visas, comprising nearly 80% of the 125,000 issued in 2015 alone.Women ac- count for 90% of all H-4 visas. Over 41,000 of EADs were approved in the year-ended September 2016, according to theWall Street Journal. During the next year, more than 36,000 applications were approved, through June. An Indian woman, Meghna Damani, who left her adver- tising job inMumbai to marry and move to the US, told Quartz in an interview last year, of her excruciating ordeal on an H-4 visa with no EAD: “I could not work and I real- ized I did not have a sense of purpose.” She battled severe depression during this time, a manifestation of the pres- sure that many H-4 spouses feel after years of remaining unemployed just to be able to live with their partners, noted the report. “I wanted to just die. To no longer feel this guilt, this wastefulness. To no longer feel like a bur- den,” she added. The DHS dropped another bombshell, on December 14, apart from their statement on the H-4 EAD, which is sure to make the entire H-1B community panic and agonize, as well as make Indian outsourcing companies in particular jittery about future hires: it mentioned plans for changes to the H-1B visa program. India accounts for 70% of all H-1B workers, of the 85,000 visas issued annually. While not being explicit, DHS said they are in the process of revising the definition of what occupations are eligible for the program "to increase focus on truly obtain- ing the best and brightest foreign nationals." The H-1B visa has been roiled in controversy since the Trump Administration took over. Premium processing for H-1B visas for an additional fee was suspended; the appli- cation for computer programmers was made harder, and the Request for Evidence (REF) have gone up alarmingly, which delays or even cancels an H-1B which has been is- sued, putting both workers and companies in limbo. The new declaration by DHS is far more serious: it’s likely that soon the DHS may bar all low level technology workers (read that as those who are not from reputed uni- versities in India, or those without years of experience at a top notch overseas multinational company, and those who won’t be offered a six figure or close to six figure salary) to be barred from applying, for an H-1B visa. Next in the line of Trump’s move against legal immigra- tion: to end the diversity visa lottery (which is fine, and it’s time to do it) and clean up the act of ‘chain migration’ – where family members can sponsor relatives, and replace it with a skills and merit-based visa system. Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter: @SujeetRajan1 H-4VisaEADToBeTerminated In2018, H-1BVisaRules ToChange Sujeet Rajan Executive Editor Parikh Worldwide Media T he Federal Communications Commission just changed the internet. The commission votedThursday afternoon to officially end the series of rules structuring what's known as "net neutrality." In its most basic formulation, net neutrality en- sures that telecomproviders don't discriminate in provid- ing Internet service to consumers by price or content. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argues that these rules have restricted both competition and investment in broadband expansion, and favor content companies like Netflix over actual providers of internet service (likeVerizon and Comcast). Pai contends that the FCCmust regulate less and collaborate more with the industries it oversees. But when the FCC has previously allowed such "corpo- rate capture" of communication regulation to take shape, it stifled innovation and reduced competition. For example, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) went to great lengths to (successfully) persuade the FCC to needlessly complicate the implementation of FM radio in order to protect its AMnetwork from competition. FM radio, which was ready in the 1930s, didn't ultimately become wide- spread until the 1960s. By contrast, history tells us that if Pai really wants to cre- ate a climate of competition and innovation, he would have upheld net neutrality. Time and again in FCC history, regu- lation has created such a climate. In fact, promoting consumption and access at the ex- pense of corporate domination is the very reason for the FCC's existence. By fostering opportunities for new en- trants, rather than promoting the interests of established corporations, FCC activism and intervention has histori- cally benefited the media industries it regulates, and the public. FCC chairmen do not loom large in popular memory of the media industry. Far more Americans can identify Ted Turner, Steve Jobs or Bill Paley than James Lawrence Fly, for instance. But the decisions made by these chairmenmat- ter. Consider for example the role that Fly - FCC chairman in the early 1940s - played in taming corporate power in broadcasting, ultimately giving Americans the ABC net- work through FCC regulations. NBC originally owned and operated two separate radio networks, named Red and Blue for colored pencil lines drawn on engineering maps. CBS and the Mutual Broad- casting System (MBS) successfully entered national broad- casting by the mid-1930s, prompting NBC executives to leverage the Blue network to prevent further competition. They inserted restrictive clauses in NBC advertising con- tracts limiting where and how advertisers could purchase broadcast time. They even undercut their own stated prices tomonopolize new business. Advertisers had no choice but to play along - NBC Red dominated the ratings and aired the nation's top radio stars. Such tactics, however, frustrated everyone in the in- dustry and limited programming choices for the public. So the FCC intervened with a ruling that denied a second sta- tion license to any network already operating one station in any American city. NBC executives were furious. They attacked Fly by plant- ing scurrilous articles in friendly media outlets. They sued the FCC, but ultimately lost in a landmark 1943 Supreme Court decision.Without further recourse, NBC completed the divestment of the Blue Network by selling the newly-re- named American Broadcasting Company to Edward John Noble, the Lifesavers candy magnate. Soon competition in network broadcasting intensified and new genres of programming emerged as ABC sought to establish itself as a competitor to NBC. The first quiz show craze, for example, began as a result of ABC programming, and a new, fully-staffed network news division began inde- pendent reporting. As new technologies developed during the 1960s, the FCC continued to play a role in encouraging diversity and access, again promoting new programs for the American consumer. In fact, there is a direct line between a FCC regu- lation and the creation of our modern cable news industry. Many Americans may remember when television sets had just two dials. One was forVHF channels (1 to 13) and the other for UHF (17 to 65). Viewers rarely tuned that sec- ond dial, because UHF stations, for the most part, aired garbage. Most stations broadcast any cheap programming they could find, which included everything fromold B- movies to shrieking televangelists to ridiculous exercise shows. Then a businessman fromAtlanta put his UHF signal on a satellite and sold it to cable TV operators. TedTurner rein- vested those profits in a cable news network (CNN), and built his Turner Broadcasting empire. But Turner's revolutionary vision depended on the All- Channel Receiving Act of 1962, a law that empowered the FCC to require that all television sets feature a UHF dial. Against the wishes of both the established television net- works andmuch of the television set manufacturing indus- try, the FCC used its regulatory power to encourage programdiversity and competition - not to further en- shrine the interests of corporations. Most Americans remain unaware of the role government regulation played inTurner's success. But, as with the cre- ation of ABC during the 1940s, Americanmedia history is filled with examples of congressional and FCC actions en- hancing competition and spurring innovation to benefit consumers. Remembering these successful examples of FCC ac- tivism in the public interest is particularly important today in the wake of the net neutrality vote. -S PECIAL T O T HE W ASHINGTON P OST WhyAjit Pai IsWrongAbout Net Neutrality T By Michael J. Socolow

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