This year, we witnessed the emergence and political victories of many Indian-American leaders in the current American political scene. They have emerged leaders from diverse educational and professional backgrounds although with something in common: the urge and the mission to serve the community at large. This blog post highlights the achievements of some of these leaders who have consistently made an impact to their multi-cultural communities in the U.S. These leaders also reveal an insight into their commitments in their chosen disciplines. Sapana S. Shah won a berth in the Edison Municipal Council of New Jersey. She has been has been working with the Edison Board of Education since 2011. The young attorney at law specializes in litigation matters relating to personal injury, municipal court matters, criminal matters, employment discrimination, business & commercial litigation, and family law.
This year, Raj Mukherji, a former Deputy Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey won the State Assembly elections to New Jersey’s 33rd Legislative District. He was part of the American military intelligence after he enlisted in the Marines post the 9/11 attacks; he is known for his philanthropic activities too. He attended the University of Pennsylvania from where he earned a Master’s degree. He now joins the state assembly post with fellow Indian American Upendra Chivukula in New Jersey.
Upendra Chivukula is the first South-Asian American in the 120-member state legislature and he is also the highest ranking South-Asian elected to office in New Jersey. He has been a member of the New Jersey state assembly since 2002. He is the first Indian-American to be elected to the New Jersey General Assembly and the fourth Indian-American to be elected to the state office. He has also been a recipient of awards including New Jersey Technology Council’s Legislative Advocate for Technology Award, NJ Small Business Development Centers’ Legislative Award, induction into the High-Tech Hall of Fame, New Jersey Policy Research Organization’s – Leader of Innovation, NJ Small Business Development Centers’ Legislator of the Year Award, NAACP Edison/Metuchen Branch – Adam Clayton Powell Award, and the ADL – Americanism Award.
This November, Latha Mangipudi won the special elections for State Representative in Hillsborough District 35 in New Hampshire by a margin of 59%-41%. She is a trained Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) by profession and she is known for her role in the field of education at Nashua, where she resides with her family. She also works with people with special needs and she is member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Town Councilman, entrepreneur, and business development executive Steve Rao emerged winner in the Morrisville City Council election in North Carolina this year. He is now the only Indian-American in the Council and was the only incumbent to return to office.
The impact of illegal immigration in the U.S. has been a topic of widespread speculation and debate for some time now. With context to what attracts illegal immigrants to the U.S. is the search for greener pastures and economic opportunities; illegal aliens or illegal immigrants to the U.S. come from all parts of the world. Despite the enforcement and the initiation of tougher measures by the U.S. immigration and other authorities to limit illegal immigration, the former’s desire to reach America is so strong that nothing in the world can dissuade them from not doing so. As the rest of it goes, they settle for the lowest wages possible and work in industries including construction, agriculture, and food-processing. Here lies the catch about why there is a demand for illegal immigrants: a globalized economy, the requirement for low-skilled labor at times of seasonal employment, the lack of a robust verifying mechanism for employers in the U.S. while hiring foreign workers, and the availability of labor at very low wages as compared to what American workers quote or demand. Further the American immigration policies have limited provisions for legal and permanent economic migration in the case of low-skilled workers. It is important to note that the American education system creates a small segment of people who are either high-school dropouts or have doctorates, thereby leaving a gap that needs to be filled by foreign workers. Therefore there is a dearth of workers required to complete seasonal low-skilled jobs or very high-skilled jobs.
George J. Borjas, economist and professor at Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School summarizes the impact of immigration as – “The laws of supply and demand imply that, other things being equal, an increase in the number of low-skilled immigrants will lower the wages of comparable native workers, at least in the short run, because they now face stiffer competition in the labor market. In contrast, high-skilled workers may gain from the influx of immigrant labor. Not only will they pay less for the services these laborers provide, such as painting the house and mowing the lawn, but by hiring immigrant workers they will be able to specialize in producing the goods and services to which their skills are better suited.” This summarizes the fact that today with the transition of most of the world economy from manufacturing to an economy that is knowledge-based, it has provided for mass immigration. This is how low-skilled labor is fulfilled by immigrant workers in the U.S. Most of them take up these jobs as they fetch higher wages than what they would earn in their home countries. Furthermore, there is also the ‘network-effect’ in which immigrants in the U.S. bring in more immigrants from their home countries due to whom the market for low-skilled labor in the U.S. has become very competitive. There are some American states that are more volatile in terms of the influx of illegal immigration; however the numbers are catching up in the other states. Although certain reports on immigration state that the number of illegal immigrants to the U.S. has dwindled, the U.S. market has fewer jobs right now and it is rife with stiff competition. However there is the other side of the opinion; a New York Times/CBS News Poll report revealed that 53 percent of Americans thought that ‘illegal immigrants mostly take the jobs Americans don’t want’ and that ‘without illegal immigration labor, it would almost certainly not be possible to produce the same volume of food in the country’. Some banking corporations wanted to initiate mortgage for illegal immigrants to attract investments; however that sort of initiation and the uncertainty of an unpredictable loom large. The debate continues and time will tell.