Approximately 7,000 immigrants from India live in greater Kansas City, Kansas, in the heart of the United States also on the border within two red states.
Temples, restaurants & Indian grocery stores have been serving the community for decades.
But now proposed H1-B visa policy changes could leave several of the Indian-Americans in Kansas City and across the United States without jobs and, possibly, forced to return back to home.
President Trump recently signed an executive order intend at making it harder for firms to hire skilled international workers under the H1-B visa program. Overwhelmingly, those workers have come from India. The United States government reports that in 2015, 71% of H1-B visa holders were Indian.
“I may lose my opportunities and my career may be done,” said Akhil Kodaru, a project manager at the Sprint telecommunications company in Kansas City.
Sprint, which mostly hires H1-B visa holders through contracting companies, has had many large-scale layoffs in recent times, and several employees believe that should the firm be required to vastly increase the wages for these visa holders, they would be fired. Increasing wages is one proposal that has been made to reform the H1-B visa program.
The Donald Trump order request for a multi-agency review of the program which will take time including visa holders in Kansas City are trying to keep panic for when the full consequences of the proposed action become clearer.
“If you start worrying today then you cannot do your job,” said Vijaykumar Kalimuthu Ponnusamy. “We are here to do the job, at this point – spend some time with the family, friends, and at work – and we can be proactive in …understand(ing) the law and then be prepared for what it is.”
Like several Indians here, Ponnusamy is choosing to remain calm & continue to plant roots in the city.