images-1Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.  It has now come and gone.  There is something about the event, the conversations, the food, family and friends that are an annual highlight.

We go around the table every year and say what makes us thankful.  Most of the time I get groans but we are all glad after we did it.  This year was as always interesting to hear what everyone said.

Our friend, who we have known for over two decades told a story that I did not know.  He was a scrappy kid who always had a bunch of ways of making money up his sleeve.  After graduating college he went to work in his father’s Greek diner on Wall Street.  He worked hard.  One guy who came into the diner all the time for lunch saw something in him.  He asked him if he wanted to come work for him on the trading floor.  Our friend is one of the most successful currency traders.  That one person changed his life.

Fred has a story like that too.  His high school teacher told me he should go to MIT.  He did not even know about MIT.  He followed his advice and it changed his life.  My Mom told Fred to go to business school.  It wasn’t even on his radar.  Two people changed the trajectory of his life.

One of our guests is from Bangladesh.  He was born in the US and left at 2 years old.  He will be graduating college in the spring.  He is happy to have a US passport.  His friends who came over here to go to college have 14 days to get a job or they will be deported.  14 days.  I can not get that out of my head.  We have the best and brightest around the globe come to educate themselves in our country.  Most of them want to stay here and work or even settle down but our country gives them the boot after 14 days.  You can’t even get a reservation in some NYC restaurants 14 days in advance.

This generation of graduates have so many different job opportunities that I did not have when I graduated.  They are interested in making a difference, being happy and finding balance in their lives.  They aren’t all interested in taking a job from the few companies that come recruit on college campuses like a Goldman Sachs or large bank.  They want to work at start-ups in technology, media, food or even non-profits.  Why wouldn’t we want those kids who came here to get an education stay here for awhile to figure out their future?

My friend told me a different story about the refugees in Germany.  He is invested in a start-up food company.  In Germany getting a VISA happens quickly.  You can get one within a few days that will last 5 years.  They are embracing immigration.  The first hire they made was a Syrian refugee who was a pharmacist in Syria.  The guy that they hired changed the entire production line and re-calibrated all of the vinaigrettes.  Incredible hire.  I love this story.  A win win for everyone.

Immigration laws must change.  We are losing some of the brightest young people who came from across the globe to be educated to be tossed back in two weeks.  It makes zero sense

The crazy fear that is being stirred up around immigration is disturbing.  Our entire country is a nation of immigrants.  History has proven that people who want to put up walls and treat one group of people differently will end up on the wrong side of history.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ella Dyer

    So well seaid!

  2. awaldstein

    Yup–second generation Russian/Polish Jew here couldn’t agree more.

  3. William Mougayar

    It’s a good message you have given, but there needs to also be prosperity and opportunity that is spread elsewhere, so that people feel they have opportunities to do well where they are from too. Otherwise, it feels that we have given up on helping to solve the roots of some problems out there, and if we don’t solve them, it opens up other issues.I’d like to see prosperity, opportunity, equality, freedom, innovation, and openness in all parts of the world. I like this quote by Pierre Omidyar: “Everyone is born equally capable but lacks equal opportunity.”

    1. Gotham Gal

      Great quote

    2. LE

      I am more interested in what can be done for the people that are living with crime and poverty in “bad neighborhoods” in our country to be honest. There is so much work to be done in the US I can’t wrap my head around worrying about what problems there are in the rest of the world. Drive through Camden NJ, Newark NJ or North Philadelphia or any town in the US. Unlimited work to be done here.

      1. William Mougayar

        I agree, but I wasn’t advocating that the US is the one that should solve the world’s problems and spread opportunity around. It’s a collective effort by those that have been more fortunate than others. That said, these parts of the world need to help themselves to start with, and that can start by eradicating corruption and inept governments.You are right. I drive sometimes in certain US neighbourhoods and it’s pretty bad. Add parts of Baltimore or Buffalo to your list.ᐧ

  4. JLM

    “His friends who have come over here to go to college have 14 days to get a job or they will be deported.”I have no idea from whence you have received this information but it is patently untrue. Quoting from State’s website:”Students with F visas have an additional 60 days after the program end date listed on Form I-20, and any authorized practical training, to depart the United States.”If a foreigner applies for a student visa (F-1 for college, M-1 for vocational school) and it is granted then he is entitled to be in the country for as long as he is enrolled in college including if he decides to take a semester off.Such visas require an interview at the US Embassy in the originating country and can be granted 120 days before the start of classes and the student may arrive as early as 30 days before classes.Interestingly enough, a foreigner on a student visa is not allowed to travel about the country though there is no way to enforce this provision.There is no enforcement mechanism in place to deport students when they graduate. Doesn’t happen. There are formal programs to extend legal status in the country which are part of the original student visa process.A student visa does not entitle a graduate to work in the United States as part of the original agreement.That same foreigner may apply for a work visa which may entail finding a job. That application can be made while the foreigner is otherwise legally in the country on his student visa. A student could apply for a work visa two years before they graduate.The work visa may have differing requirements — as an example, a bona fide offer of employment — and may depend on the target industry.The idea that anyone is being deported from the US today is total nonsense and has been for decades.We are not deporting foreigners who overstay their tourist visas. We are not doing anything to students who overstay their student visas. We have been extraordinarily generous on work visas including programs like the H1-B program.This is the legal immigration overview.Illegal immigration is rampant and if a person obtains a social security number and a driver’s license, it is virtually impossible to determine if they are in the country legally or illegally.Here is a good website link that has a lot of info as noted above:…It is impossible to believe that anyone who is in this country legally cannot stay — legally or illegally — when we can’t stop the flow of illegal immigration. Immigration is so hopelessly broke, I feel sorry for those who try to do it legally.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Gotham Gal

      immigration is so hopelessly broke is so true.

      1. JLM

        .It is broken to an extent that it cannot be accidental. It is being broken daily and on purpose. The border states are in a different world than the rest of the country. The Rio Grande Valley in Texas might as well be part of Mexico and we might as well move our southern border to Austin.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  5. TejDhawan

    And boom. Sen Cruz introduces legislation to further restrict the student focused programs in this bill introduced yesterday (Dec 10).…A highlight (Title 1, last bullet) : Prevent continued use of the non-statute-based Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program,and the creation and use of other similar programs, which have also been used to displaceAmerican workers under the guise of student training.The other highlights related to the H1b program are pretty interesting also, especially the salary floor proposed.

    1. JLM

      .There is the immigration law as passed by the Congress. There is immigration practice as applied by the administration. There are the laws which the administration ignores or guts by executive action.There is a huge gap between the law and all the other things.As an example — the “optional practice training program” which you cite above.That flows from a provision in the immigration program which pertains to how long those holding student visas may remain in the country after they have completed their education.”Students with F visas have an additional 60 days after the program end date listed on Form I-20, and any “authorized” practical training, to depart the United States.”The intention of the law as to allow those educated in a particular subject — an example might be physical rehab — to obtain short periods of practical training affiliated strictly with their degree granting institution.The training was to be “authorized.”In practice, there has been a proliferation of not strictly correlated programs which are used to extend student visa stay periods. Not the intention of the law.In addition, nobody authorizes these extensions.This has become a cottage — maybe an “estate” — industry whereby students sign up for things called “practical training” without bothering to inquire as to whether the training is either required or “authorized.”It is a scam and has been for a long time.One comes to the US to learn how to fly. Goes to Embry-Riddle and then wants to stay to build 1,500 hours so they can apply for their ATP license (which has a 1,500 flight time requirement).It is long past time to clean up immigration including the existing laws which are not being enforced. Perhaps a good start would be to start enforcing the existing laws?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. TejDhawan

        Having brought on OPT holders from a nearby university in my past employment, I do know that the college foreign student office assisted the student in filling out the authorization request on USCIS forms. It was the formal USCIS form that allowed the employment (as interns) to begin and it specified a strict calendar time for the employment. It required federal and state taxes to be withdrawn from the interns paychecks.Those breaking the law should be dealt with…. with laws already on the books as you also suggest in your last sentence.

        1. JLM

          .The employment as interns is the basis of the first level of abuse. That is how it gets started by the most “honest” of those involved.The original intent was for education related authorized TRAINING not for intern based jobs with pay and other benefits.There are multiple levels of abuse involved here — the “student” has become a worker and the employer is tempted to pay less than far market value as part of the scheme.This is a perfect example of how immigration has slipped its anchor and is essential drifting out of control.This has nothing to do with criminal immigrants or terrorism but it is a perfect example of how far the practice has wandered from the enabling legislation.Nowhere am I criticizing the desire to outrun the coverage of the law and in some instances I applaud the actual outcome. I very much like the idea of keeping folks we educate in the country — as taxpayers.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. TejDhawan

            I disagree.Intent of law is publicized through the federal register and the register clearly uses the word employment when providing the authorization to work. The system would be far more abusive if the only way for f1 students to work was to receive free internships.Here is the link to one of the two CFRs that opened the opt program…See section 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)-(12)It is employment that ensures taxes would be paid, and it is employment that requires the employer to validate the authorization via use of everify.Exploration of immigrants by a few American employers isn’t new and has existed for each New class of immigrants, from the Irish in textile mills of 1850s to the Burmese in meat packing today.

          2. JLM

            .What you say as to the law is theoretically correct. What happens in reality is not anything like that.What you are quoting are Federal regulations — the regulations which are supposed to breathe life into the law. It is not the underlying legislation.In fact, they far exceed the authorization given by the law and immigration rules — particularly under this President — are either too broad or too narrow or simply not enforced.This is not uncommon but in the immigration arena, it is far worse than anything other than, say, the EPA.E-Veryify is supposed to be used by every employer in the United States. It is not.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. TejDhawan

            First, eVerify, is not required to be used by employers. Employers like me have voluntarily used it, but USCIS neither required it under President Bush, nor under President Obama.…Second, none of our governance is done through the bill introduced in Congress or eventually signed into law. The bills signed into law are codified in these federal regulations by the agencies responsible. Regs are the administrative rules that outline exactly how the bills would be governed and implemented. From a brief history of the CFR, it has been so since 1937.

          4. JLM

            .Yes and no. An employer is legally liable for hiring illegal workers (absent an argument of prudence) but the Feds will not pursue anyone — safe harbor defense — if they can prove they used eVerify.The problem is also that eVerify can take as long as six months to smoke out a fraudulent SSAN.The issue of the enabling legislation and the rules is exactly what I was getting at. The law is precise and the codification of the rules is left to the administration in power. There is no requirement for the Congress to approve many of the rules and many times the rules take years to produce.Thirty pages of a bill can generate 3,000 pages of rules. Therein lies the problem. We are governed not by the law but by the implementing rules. It gives undue power to faceless paper pushers.Once the rules are written and published, it is virtually impossible to undo something that is objectionable.A good example is the JOBS Act which was a good piece of legislation which was emasculated by the SEC in their long time consuming rule making. Three years later, some parts are still awaiting rule making.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. TejDhawan

            I haven’t disagreed on the employer’s liability…just that eVerify was not required for use.I do agree with you that the SEC has emasculated the intent, spirit, and provisions of the JOBS act vis a vis crowdfunding. Until Congress starts to codify its bills as administrative rules, the CFR is here to stay at the Federal level and its equivalent counterparts in the individual states as well.All those said, I think the Gotham Gal’s original intent of writing about immigration still stands – in absence of students matriculating into Comp Sci programs here in the US, our next best labor force is in the foreign students who are here, have learnt amongst us (like I once did), and provide them a legal pathway to join our hungry workforce.Here in Iowa where I reside, unemployment is negative in the tech sector necessitating the continued need to attract and keep the workforce being trained in Comp Sci, Comp. Engg, medicine, actuarial sciences, aerospace, energy and more at Iowa State Univ, University of Iowa and 27 private colleges.

          6. JLM

            .There is really no shortage of tech workers in America when viewed as a whole. There are local shortages when viewed on a micro perspective.There are also unscrupulous employers who seek to dramatically reduce the wages of the foreign workers who are more than willing to take these jobs.The So Cal Ed story is a perfect example of this practice.They fired Americans — these were jobs that had incumbents in place — and replaced them with foreign workers — well qualified workers, no doubt — at half the pay.This is not immigration, this is predatory management.As to education and your situation in Iowa — it is healthy when a young person can pick a course of study that results in an immediate job upon graduation. In Austin, Texas where I live the situation is similar.The impact on wages is also healthy even though I might have been put off when I was the CEO of a company hiring these folks.There should be a solid reward for taking tough college courses of instruction. It will attract more folks to these majors.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  6. LE

    Fred has a story like that too. His high school teacher told me he should go to MIT. He did not even know about MIT. He followed his advice and it changed his life. My Mom told Fred to go to business school. It wasn’t even on his radar. Two people changed the trajectory of his life.I never had a Mother in law like your mom. Boy do I wish that I did. I never forgot when you told that story (or Fred did) about the role your mom played in Fred’s choice. Sounds totally like a jewish mother by the way. Go the practical sure bet choice. Great advice. What I tell people as well.When growing up my Dad used to refer to certain women as “she pushed him” with regard to motivating their husbands. Was the woman, not the man. What that means is that the wife was a significant factor in the work and/or career choice that the husband chose. [1] Many reasons for this.So more importantly you are forgetting a significant ingredient which was you. And I don’t mean any particular advice and/or help that you gave to Fred which anyone who has read AVC knows about. I mean the thing that people often don’t think about (and please correct me if I am wrong about this) that is the fact that you were the one that schlepped him to NYC and as a result of that he was located in the right place (even if he didn’t do VC). And all of the other things that you did.When I was growing up NYC was the “Ford to City Drop Dead” days. I would never think of relocating to NYC and I didn’t have a Joanne to get me up there to take advantage of the hustle.[1] My mom held my Dad back. When he went to buy real estate he had to push her to sign the papers. Luckily he managed to do that and she is now living off of all of those investments that were made in the 70’s.

    1. Gotham Gal

      my impact there is definitely noted.

  7. jason wright

    what is US net immigration at present?in the year to June 2015 the UK’s net immigration was 336,000 (historically very high).by the end of this calendar year Germany will have taken in one million asylum seekers/ refugees/ economic migrants (unsustainable).half of the population of London was not born in the UK. most provincial English people think of London as not being English.

    1. Gotham Gal

      bravo for germany

      1. jason wright

        brave (and risky).my German friends express contrasting opinions, and all say the country is split.

  8. pointsnfigures

    I love my country so much I want to share it with everyone-except terrorists. I don’t want them. America is truly a shining city on the hill. It’s the greatest country in the world. Gary Becker did a lot of research in immigration and found there is a net economic benefit to it. But, we do have to figure out how to solve for terrorists. A minority of them can destroy a society. Scott Adams wrote a very interesting piece on the cost/benefit of immigration with terrorism: