Common knowledge would dictate that in order for a traditionally under-represented ethnic group to improve their economic status, they must have equal access to resources that will aid in economic improvement. The possibility of attaining these resources directly correlates to the political and economic atmosphere, both domestic and international. This paper will attempt to determine if this theory relates to the Indian American ethnic group. The flourishing geopolitical relationship between the United States and India, combined with an atmosphere of increasing competitiveness among the international community in regards to technological advancement and innovation led to the mass distribution of H-1B visas to Indians (Pew 2012, 27). This paper will ascertain whether or not the mass distribution of work and student visas to Indians directly affected the strikingly rapid socioeconomic ascendance of contemporary Indian Americans. Throughout this paper Indian American social and economic traits will be analyzed and expanded upon to determine the plausibility of this correlation, as well as explore the possibilities of how these traits will affect the future of Indian American influence on society and politics.
II. Historical Overview and Basic Demographics
With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990, Indian immigration to the US began to flourish (Pew 2012, 10). This Act was designed to place preferential treatment on the US family ties and the skill level of immigrants. Prioritizing skill level was meant to allow the United States to remain competitive in the international labor force market (Pew 2012, 10). It allows companies to hire highly qualified international employees who can make valuable contributions that enable their respectful employers to remain competitive in an atmosphere of constant technological innovation and growth.
The passage of this Act resulted in an increase of Indian immigrants in the United States, as well the United Kingdom and Canada. Both foreign countries report that 2% of their national population is comprised of self-identifying Indians, more than twice the population of Indian Americans in the U.S (Pew 2012, 44). However, this does not mean that Indian Americans are not flourishing and growing rapidly. In recent years Indian Americans have become the second largest Asian American ethnic group, second only to Chinese Americans (Pew 2012, 45). According to the 2011 U.S. census, there are 2, 909, 204 Indian Americans in the United States, making up .93% of the total population. The majority of this population of Indian Americans resides within the Northeast, in states such as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (Pew 2012, 45). However, this paper will not focus on a particular region, instead analyzing the strikingly limited available research and data on this ethnic group from a national perspective.
III. Contingency Factors
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 prioritizes family connections, which has been a recent source of contention in the political arena. Some have argued against this aspect of the Act, suggesting that the focus should shift more towards the skill level of an immigrant (Richwine, 2009). This would allow the US to prioritize qualified skilled workers and promising students over other immigrants. Therefore it must be noted that Indian Americas were the most likely among all other Asian American ethnic groups to cite education and the United States economy as their reason for immigration. It must also be noted that they were the least likely Asian American ethnic group to list family as their reason for immigrating (Pew 2012, 45). Coincidentally, Indians are the highest recipients of the H-B1 visa, which enables qualified skilled workers to enter the United States labor force (Pew 2012, 45). In 2011, Indians were issued 72, 438 H-1B visas,...
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