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Feminist Argument For H-4B Work Visas

by Rob Sanchez

"Immigrants bring with them the values and beliefs of their home country and are unlikely to assimilate into American culture" - Peter Brimelow - Alien Nation

A new study was published from Boston University that makes a feminist argument for allowing the spouses of H-1Bs to obtain work visas. [1] [2] [3]

Currently the spouse of an H-1B can apply for an H-4B visa to live in the U.S. but they are denied the right to hold paying jobs. Spouses can apply for an H-1B, and in fact it's not uncommon for married couples to both have H-1B visas. In many cases, the spouse opts to stay in her home country while her husband works in the U.S.

NOTE: Most H-1Bs are male, so the assumption is made here that the spouse of an H-1B is female.

Anita Raj, who conducted the study, notes that wives of H-1Bs have a high incidence of abuse by their spouse. She writes that this abuse is a cultural phenomenon, although she stops short of admitting the reality that spousal abuse is endemic to Asian cultures - especially Indian cultures who comprise the majority of the H-1Bs that come into our country. Keep in mind that Raj is judging these foreigners by using American ideological standards which in all likelihood are not shared by the Asian couples she studied (see Brimelow quote above). Spousal abuse, while abhorrent by our Western standards, is quite accepted in many cultures.

"I can't say that South Asian women have partners who batter them more than other populations of women, because I don't have the data to make a comparison," she says. "But what we can conclude is that domestic abuse is very pervasive, and there are culturally specific and immigrant-specific issues that increase a woman's vulnerability and affect her ability to seek help.
Raj's solution to this spousal abuse is to allow the wives of H-1Bs to work. Apparently she doesn't consider homemaking and taking care of kids as work. Her assumption that allowing spouses of H-1Bs to have jobs will reduce abuse is based on ideology and not scientific fact. A joint study by Pradeep Panda of the Centre for Development Studies Trivandrum, and Bina Agarwal of the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi says that, "there seems to be no clear relationship between risk of violence and employment status." [4] [5]

Allowing these mostly unskilled wives to work at Wal-Mart salaries is not going to magically save them from abuse. Imposing American style feminism on these married couples is unlikely to solve the abuse problems because social engineering can cause unintended results. In many cases working wives aren't allowed to keep what they earn so they are unlikely to be able to afford to be self sufficient. The United States will bear the brunt of the social and financial costs if these women need housing and welfare after they leave their husbands. According to a series of studies carried out by the Washington-based International Center for Research on Women in collaboration with independent Indian researchers: [6]

In many Indian states, working women are asked to hand over their paycheck to the husband and have no control over their finances. So, if they stop doing so or start asserting their right, there is bound to be friction."

Abused wives might not get much relief even if they have the skills and education to find higher paying jobs. According to that same study, educated women, who might qualify for better jobs, tend to suffer even more abuse.

Raj proposes to give abused spouses the ability to get jobs so that they can divorce their husbands and become permanent residents of the United States:

"H-4B visa holders are legal residents of the U.S. who are being denied the right to work and the right to self-petition for legal permanent residency in the U.S.," Raj said. "These policies violate basic human rights and must be changed for the U.S. to demonstrate a commitment to eliminating policies that increase women's risk for violence."
If we accept the fact that empowering these Asian women to work would reduce spousal abuse, then isn't it equally valid to say that the native born American women that will be displaced by this new expansion of our workforce will suffer an increase in abuse? I highly doubt that Raj has considered the social consequences of her feminist agenda to allow more foreign women to work in the United States.

Raj's study is just another thinly veiled excuse to allow more foreign workers to flood our labor market. It appears that these feminists will attempt to sneak some legislation through Congress next year to authorize H-4B visa holders work petitions. It will be disguised as a women's rights issue instead of what it really is - a new guest-worker program.

She expects the proposal to come up in the legislature next year as part of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2000.


[1] Human Rights Violations Among H1-B Visa Holders' Spouses

[2] Research Briefs

[3] Study links immigration status to abuse

[4] Home and the world: Revisiting violence

[5] Women who own property are less likely to face marital violence: study

[6] In India, Domestic Violence Rises with Education

About The Author

Rob Sanchez is the webmaster and creator of and publisher of the "Job Destruction Newsletter".

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.