Donald Trump’s policies, Kansas shooting compound woes of Indians

Indians on H1B visas, awaiting approval for their green cards, are now uncertain about their fate given the slew of legislations being introduced in the US Congress


People light candle during a vigil for Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer who was shot and killed, at a conference center in Olathe, Kansas on Sunday.  Photo: Reuters
People light candle during a vigil for Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian engineer who was shot and killed, at a conference center in Olathe, Kansas on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

New York: Anxiety among Indian immigrants in the US over the proposed tightening of work visa rules under the Trump administration has been compounded by fears in the wake of the fatal shooting of an Indian engineer in Kansas.

Indians on H1B visas, many of whom have been living in the country for nearly a decade and are awaiting approval for their green cards, are now uncertain about their fate given the slew of legislations being introduced in the US Congress and proposed executive orders, calling for overhaul of the visa programme that allows companies to hire foreign workers, majority in the technological field.

Adding to the unease is the tragic incident in Kansas where 32-year-old Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla was killed when US Navy veteran Adam Purinton opened fire at him and his friend Alok Madasani before yelling “get out of my country”.

Venkatesh, a 34-year engineer working in a major IT company in Florida, said he has been living in the US for 10 years now and was close to getting his green card approval. The father of two, who asked his last name not be used for the article nor the name of his company fearing repercussions, told PTI he is not sure if he will get his green card as the Trump administration’s imminent crackdown on the work visa programme.

He said he and his wife, who is a doctor, are contemplating whether they should move back to India as they do not want uncertainty of living in the US hamper their children’s education. Venkatesh further said that Kuchibhotla’s killing has added to the atmosphere of fear and unease among the community.

“We are now concerned for the safety of our children. The tragedy in Kansas is making our worst fears come true,” he said. He added that parents and families back home of several of his Indian friends and colleagues are worried about their safety in the US.

“We hope the situation here improves soon. We all have built a life for ourselves in the US and don’t want to live in constant fear and uncertainty,” he said. Like Venkatesh, several Indians still awaiting their green cards, are looking at working on an alternative plan in case they lose their jobs and have to leave the country.

Another Indian software engineer in New Jersey, who requested anonymity, said he has put several key life decisions on hold given the uncertain and fearful environment in America. He said he has postponed buying a house and worries about his three-year-old girl’s education.

“We cannot live with the uncertainty for the next 10 years over when and whether our green card will be approved or what will happen to our work visas. We have to think about our child’s future and don’t want her education to suffer because of the uncertainty over where we will eventually live,” he said, adding that moving back to India or any other country will also require extensive planning and resources. PTI

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