Does "Upwardly Global" Mean Downwardly Mobile For American Workers?
July 20, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Within the last few years, three of my ten nieces and nephews have left Guatemala, where they were born (their mothers both married Guatemalans when our family were expatriates there) and moved to the U.S.

Two of them have relocated in California and the third, in Florida.

All are employed. One works in a middle-management job in the hotel industry, the second is in international sports broadcasting and the third in retail.

Since they are bilingual, well-groomed and educated, they had no trouble landing work.

But, odd as it may seem, I'm of two minds about their recent relocation.

On the one hand, I'm delighted that they have left Guatemala's cultural and economic wasteland.

At the same time, I have to wonder if they have taken jobs that would otherwise have gone to job-seeking Americans, or to the employed among us who want to improve their station in life.

I have, after all, spent most of the last twenty years arguing on behalf of the ever-shrinking American middle class.

Then again, who really knows? In the immigration-mad world in which we live, illegal aliens may have filled the jobs my relatives now hold.

The rub in all this is that my nieces and nephews ARE Americans. Well, make that "Americans." Even though they were born in Guatemala, visited America only occasionally and consider themselves Guatemaltecas through and through, they have U.S. passports.

They are, because of what is known in citizenship law as ius sanguinis ("right of the blood"), as American as you or me.

My nieces and nephew are American citizens (actually dual citizens) with passports that allow them the freedom to come and go from the U.S. as they please.

According to Section 301 of the INA [8 USC § 1401] the following classes of people have US citizenship from the time of birth:

  • Anyone born in the US and subject to its jurisdiction (basically meaning anyone other than a child of foreign government representatives with diplomatic immunity);


  • Anyone born outside the US, if at least one parent is a US citizen and certain residency or physical presence requirements were fulfilled by the citizen parent or parents prior to the child's birth;

  • Anyone who is found in the US while under five years of age, whose parents cannot be identified, and who is not shown prior to his or her 21st birthday to have been born outside the US.

Under the provision that grants citizenship to children born outside of the U.S. and who have at least one citizen parent who satisfies "certain residency or physical presence requirements," my nieces and nephew qualify as citizens.

In other words, their citizen mothers lived in the U.S. for a period long enough to meet immigration law requirements.

Whatever impact my relatives' presence in the U.S. may have on the labor market is beyond anyone's control. No part of ius sanguinis will be changed anytime soon. In fact, efforts to alter these laws have been only in "more liberal direction", according to dual citizenship expert Rich Wales.

However, non-citizen legal immigrants, green card holders, present an altogether different challenge.

A recent Associated Press story stated that immigrants expect to land jobs equal to positions they held in their home country. Whether or not they have skills equivalent to those of native Americans is questionable. [Educated Immigrants Often Cannot Connect With Jobs That Match Skills, by Julianna Barbassa, Associated Press, July 14, 2007]

A bank vice president in Honduras does not necessarily have the same abilities or training as a Manhattan-based Citibank vice president.

But in our corporate world, addicted to affirmative action, ability may be less important than diversity.

Check out what John Bradley, director of human resources at the investment bank JP Morgan Chase had to say.

"This (legal immigrants) is clearly an under-leveraged talent pool. We're in constant need of a supply of talent and this is a viable, well-trained source that we hadn't focused on in the past."

Reading Bradley's comment, the uninitiated might think that JP Morgan Chase has to scramble to find personnel. Of course, the exact opposite is true. The prestigious firm can pick and choose among thousands of qualified American prospects.

But instead, Bradley—and dozens of other Fortune 500 corporations—now rely on Upwardly Global (see its website here), a nonprofit organization with offices in New York and San Francisco that, according to founder Jane Leu, [email her] recruits "well-educated legal immigrants" and helps them "sharpen their ability to market themselves and connect with employers interested in their skills."

JP Morgan Chase is the "premier partner" with Upwardly Global. Predicted Bradley: "I'm convinced that over the next 12 months you will thank us for being part of this."

How much you thank JP Morgan Chase may depend upon your point of view.

If you are an immigrant from one of the 50 countries and coached by Upwardly Global in the intricacies of the job interview, you're delighted.

But if you are a displaced American professional, the chances are you'll be more angry than thankful.

Most infuriating is the sense of entitlement.

Remember that every legal immigrant voluntarily decides to migrate to the U.S.

Before embarking on his trip, they presumably weighed many factors. Top among them would be job opportunities.

What would make any immigrant think that they would immediately be at the head of the line for professional positions? What starting job would they expect to hold—partner at Goldman, Sachs?

But the Upwardly Global website is full of unsubstantiated claims and mumbo-jumbo about the value of foreign-born workers like this one from consultant Ed Hubbard:

"Ignoring foreign-born workers' contributions because of bias can cost companies as much as 25% of an eight-hour workday."

And this tripe from former Bank of America Executive Vice President of Corporate Diversity Development, Valerie Crane:

"Corporate culture crosses all geographies, and we have to balance global with local needs, corporate values with local, and ensure a culture of inclusion."

If you live in New York or San Francisco, where Upwardly Global maintains offices, and have some time on your hands as summer winds down, attend one of its events for an eye-opening experience. See the schedule here.

The stakes are high for all of us. Note that one of the Upwardly Global "success stories" is that of Columbian-born Clara Ines Torres who, when she first came to America, was a part-time Spanish tutor.

But Torres has moved up in the world. Currently, thanks to Upwardly Global she works for Catholic Charities as a paid immigration advocate.

Great! Just what we need!

More immigration advocacy!

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.