Tension builds as H4 visa holders await cues from Save Jobs USA vs DHS case hearing

Nikhila Natarajan
US Ambassador Nikki Haley expressed regret to African ambassadors who were outraged by President Donald Trump's alleged description of African countries.

It's a nerve wracking wait for H4 visa holders and their familiy members before we know what exactly happened in the Jan 2 court case hearing of DHS versus Save Jobs USA which has put the entire universe of H4 dependents on tenterhooks for many months now. H4 visa holders who got work permits in Obama's final year are now on cliff edge and their extended families in their home countries are worried on next steps because of innumerable real-life situations that are at risk - mortgage payments, other sunk costs and just the crushing uncertainty of a career in limbo.

While we wait on that update, let's cobble together the signs to see where its pointing. In the process, readers will find crucial links below that add context to the sweeping regulatory changes that are afoot since Trump took over.

Link: What USCIS said to the court

Court order on November 17, 2017 to hold off until January 2, 2018

First, the case itself. Save Jobs USA v. United States Department of Homeland Security, Case No. 16-5287 (D.C. Circuit) is not a new one. It's been going on for years. The reason the January 2, 2018 date adds an edge to the cliffhanger is because it is situated in the political blueprint of the most disruptive US Presidency in the history of the United States.

Many of the festering issues around grey areas in immigration law and rule making have existed for decaces - ever since America opened its doors to outsiders in the mid Sixties. What Trump's has done is to double down, take action or be seen to be taking action and communicating that swiftly to the white voter in a cornfield in Nebraska who never was affected by the H1B or the H4, for example, but is perfectly happy to resist the un-Americanness of the outsider.

Media baron Stephen Bannon is only too happy to wear Trumpism's superhero cape and do exactly that. Long an enabler of the resentment agenda that Trumpism embodies, Bannon's Breitbart newspaper tells the H4 story the way Middle America wants to hear it - "Trump opens up 80,000 white collar jobs to Americans" proclaims the headline of this uncompromising rightwing paper. Now, whether these 80,000 folks being skewered are actually holding paying jobs or just a piece of paper with an EAD stamp is irrelevant in Trumpism's larger scheme for the America of its dreams.

Before the crucial mid term elections comes, an encore of the call to arms that foretold the Trump victory in 2016 is afoot, this time at a more sophisticated level. It plays to the economic insecurity that swept up America in a giant tidal wave in 2008 with the greatest financial collapse since the Great Depression. For Americans who don't work on Wall Street and couldn't care less about the house of cards that is the American mortgage industry, scapegoats come handy; for politicos, they are undeniably essential props to distract the base. Obama was one such and now that he is gone, the brown man or woman with a job and a paycheck is a logical alternative to attack.

Many US Presidents have experienced how Congressional gridlock can stymie policy changes and Trump is no exception. While Trump prices that in, his sights are set on two goalposts in this order - the midterm elections this November and the next US election in 2020. Seen through those lenses, it's no surprise that the H4 visa is being killed with a thousand cuts. It's the kind of stuff that sounds good on the political megaphone. It drowns out the voice of the daily wage worker whose head is spinning - "But when's he going to raise my base pay to $ 15 an hour? That's not happened yet."

The answer is found here, in this signature line from nearly every important decision by Trump: "By rescinding yet another Obama-era attempt to hamstring (American) businesses, Mr. Trump has made clear that his job is nowhere near finished."

Cancelling out Obama's legacy has always been right on top of Trumpism's agenda. The H4 EAD happens to be in that bucket list.

Related links: More than 100,000 H4 dependents got work permits last 3 years

Ace immigration attorney Cyrus Mehta on the H1B visa on Planet Trump View More