The Gandhi Protest

Several readers commented on a posting earlier this week about 200 skilled immigrants from India who tried a Gandhi-like tactic and sent flowers to the government's immigration director for help in moving their green card applications along. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services forwarded the flowers to soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, saying it understood the intent of gesture.

Here's a sample:

"I wonder if USCIS really understood why the flowers were sent. It was a symbolic protest by legal immigrants AGAINST the way USCIS treated them. How could they send it in the 'same spirit' to soldiers whom we all empathize with?"
"What an inspirational act. Too bad the message did seem to have gotten lost in translation. Just imagine what would have happened in WWII if the US would have turned away the immigrating sciencists and engineers. How come some 50 years later, the US is struggling to see the value of inviting the world's best and brightest to immigrate here."
"I'm sorry that these people were tricked into coming to America with the promise of a welcome and eventually a Green Card. The fact is that H1-B immigrants were brought here in order to replace US workers."
"Viceroy Lord Wavell and his assistants laughed when M.K. Gandhi told them that one day they will be forced to leave India. What they did not understood that they were not politicians, they were bureaucrats. When the political power behind peaceful civil disobedience was unleashed, a nation took shape, and what Gandhi told Wavell became a reality.

"Something similar repeated in United States recently when thousands of legal immigrants were given a cold shoulder, despite of their merit based claim for an American Green Card. They decided to apply Gandhian way of peaceful protest by sending thousands of flower bouquets to USCIS, an American agency responsible for immigration and citizenship. Instead of offering an apology, USCIS chief decided to again ignore the immigrants and simply issued a statement that the flowers will be forwarded to the injured service members recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once again a bureaucrat miscalculated the power hidden behind a peaceful protest. Now the power behind flowers is becoming a media mainstream story. NY Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Yahoo News are a few to name. Bollywood, has recently issued a statement providing its full support to Immigration Voice, the non profit organization behind the flower campaign.

"An American way of fighting injustice 'A law suit' is on its way, the usual rallies and demonstrations are about to begin. However, in America, its first time after Martin Luther King Jr., that someone has tried to apply Gandhi's way to fight injustice. It is yet not clear that what would be the outcome of this campaign, but there are rumours that USCIS is already discussing internally to reverse the discriminatory decision which caused this embarrassing flower campaign against them.

"It's amazing to witness that 60 years after Gandhi's demise, his ideology is still relevant. We are sure its gonna remain relevant till there are Lord Wavell's in this world. Lord Wavell's can momentarily laugh thinking that unorganized immigrants are helpless, but when the peaceful protest will demonstrate its political power, they surely will realize what Gandhi and Gandhian ways are all about."

By Dan Beyers  |  July 13, 2007; 6:00 AM ET  | Category:  H1B Visas
Previous: Champion of Financial Savvy Makes Stop in D.C. | Next: Morning Brief 07.13.07


Please email us to report offensive comments.

I am completely agrees, We cannot afford to ignore talents. America is built upon talents and if we ignore them in such a way, just slamming doors on their face..... will send a wrong message to them.

In order to keep edge on global economy, We must have a young and talented people but seems like it's being ignored.

God bless America !!!

Posted by: Raj | July 13, 2007 12:30 PM

It was not just Indians who protested by send flowers. People from Other countries like China, Poland etc..

Posted by: Shybin | July 13, 2007 2:59 PM

As a highly skilled H1B worker in the US, let me the set the record straight on a few common misconceptions:
- Many of us come from upper middle class families and didnt come to the US 'seeking quality of life'. We already had it.
- Many of us have graduated with distinction or higher from TOP US universities where we competed with 'local' talent and aced the programs, with NO SPECIAL FAVORS
- All of us are PASSIONATE about the PROMISE of the GREAT AMERICAN DREAM. We work hard because we want to, not because we need to. (Hint: We are ambitious and can hence go to any country in the world!)
- All of us are an INTEGRAL part of this society, paying 28%-33% of our $100K+ jobs as TAXES that go back to the US economy
- All of us continue the great tradition of the US being a melting pot

Go back to the age of the Gold Rush. We are the new Gold Rush. We are the new Lewis and Clarke. We are adventurers, learners, experiments, believers, doers.

We are not lowly paid 'tech slaves'. Get the media misconception out of your heads.

We are PROUD to be part of the Great American Fabric. We strengthen this country with our diversity. We will continue to contribute selflessly to make this a greater, stronger nation.

And while we are it, we wont forget that our own future generations might take it more lightly and risk messing up their careers. Anyone that has 'life handed to them in a platter' ends up messing it.

So, please take your heads out of the sand, quit being protectionist and complaining the someone moved your cheese. Look at how you can move and be flexible, nimble and adaptive.

Inspiration. Ideation. Innovation. Hardwork. Dedication. Focus. Results. Rewards. Since when have we decided to change the ingredients of the American Dream?

Posted by: The Great American Dream | July 13, 2007 4:30 PM

H1b workers are not cheap. Check any SAP or Oracle ERP consultants billing rates with any US company. They might be paying atleast $100/hr. if our country has sufficient skilled workers .. do we pay this much ?

Posted by: IT consultant | July 13, 2007 6:59 PM

Skilled workers in the tech industry are highly professional and ethical in their ways and work with pride in what they do. When it comes to immigration, everybody is a strict adapter of law and abide by the rules as they pursue their "Adjustment of Status"/GC and eventually the American Citizenship. The USCIS and DHS should be well aware of the fact that their actions have serious repercussions on these professionals. These workers have come here with an American Dream. So please fulfill your promise of providing it.

Posted by: EarthColor | July 14, 2007 6:14 AM

The blog is littered with grammatical and linguistic erros. For example, "What they did not understood that they were not politicians, they were bureaucrats" and "We are sure its gonna remain relevant till there are Lord Wavell's in this world". I am sorry, but this does not portend a good picture of smart and skilled immigrants.

Posted by: Harshad | July 14, 2007 2:42 PM

"I am sorry, but this does not portend a good picture of smart and skilled immigrants"

Lets skip the grammar lesson ok. We are not aspiring to be writers.

We speak the language of chipsets, enterprise software systems, biochemical and biomedical technologies, neural networks, AI, fuzzy control systems,
composite materials, nano technology, etc. etc.

And, by the way we also follow the ways of Gandhi and Dr King when it comes to creative protest against unjust systems.

Posted by: mahesh | July 14, 2007 9:27 PM

San Jose Peace March was a call for ALL to understand that we all are LEGAL human beings. We wish AL those concerned to understand the issues and appreciate it.

Posted by: USA-We Love You | July 14, 2007 10:06 PM

San Jose Peace March was a call for ALL to understand that we all are LEGAL human beings. We wish ALL those concerned to understand the issues and appreciate it.
We want us and USA to grow, to be a nation which cares for human beings and its values.

Posted by: USA-We Love You | July 14, 2007 10:11 PM

So invoke Gandhi to get GC? the two don't mix, Green card takes you further away from your mother country, please explain why use Gandhi here?

Posted by: Trivedi | July 15, 2007 12:44 AM

re: So invoke Gandhi to get GC?

Rejoinder: With the advent of the internet and businesses ruling the world economy, there are no countries, just corporations. Gandhian principles are not just applicable in the country of Gandhi's origin, but everywhere.

Posted by: sleepless_in_seattle | July 15, 2007 1:14 AM

Just because highskilled indians think in their selfrighteousness that they are needed doesnt make it so. That they are puting native americans out of jobs doesnt seem to mean anything to them. Just like it is not for the employee to decide whether he is needed by the employer, it is not for immigrants to decide whether they are needed or not. It is for the american nation to take decision on such issues. If the employer decides not to choose you for the job you dont go sending him flowers to change his decision. On the surface it may look kind but in reality it is nothing short of arrogant. And by the way if they are so highskilled and talented there is nothing preventing them to harness their talents and skills in their own country till their own country is the envy of the world. Untill this happens I am inclined to think that their aquired reproductive skills are rather the result of our ability to create and spread scientific knowledge and technological knowhow to anyone willing to learn it and reproduce it.

Posted by: peter | July 15, 2007 1:51 PM


how about trying to find out what the protest was really about first?
people who follow the laws, simply expect the government to do the same. The flowers were a non violent protest related to a recent administrative bungle up.
no one is sending employers flowers and no one is making US immigration policy- but we are legally authorised to work and to apply for permanent residency UNDER YOUR LAWS AND CONSTITUTION. and the same laws don't insist we play dead for you.
making derogatory remarks about another nation and people must make you feel so much stronger and better. But these were not just indians- these people are from all over the world. even the media missed the point. anyway 25% of doctors in the US are foreign born, and 25% of startups in technology are from immigrants. so what huh? we are just a burden for a hard working dude like you- round us up in the square and horse whip us before deporting.
as for india- it's growing much faster than the US, has more jobs with excellent salaries in technology sectors and increments are 15% a year- and yes many people are going back. happy?

Posted by: paskal | July 15, 2007 3:08 PM

Lets all just agree to this point first.This is a nation built by immigrants. Atleast 90% of the so-called Americans are immigrants. They took over from the native americans. How'd they've felt if the native americans had decided to kick them out? The same applies to the current situation. No Peter or Tom can stop this movement which is slowly but gradually picking up. The legal immigrants played by law all these years, carrying each and every paper needed to lawfully stay in this country and the same law which brought them here to improve America's economy and technology is illegaly showing doors to hundreds of thousands of high-tech people who are now adjusted to American lifestyle. How fair is this??? Let the Gandhian movement proceed and show this nation the power and values of M.K Gandhi.

Posted by: Buddyinus | July 15, 2007 3:42 PM

I agree. People who are legal & in the country should be given priority and treated gracefully. They pay our taxes Fed, Social Security, Medicare and abide by our law, which is much better than someone jumping the "wall".

I would say have a thumbrule/criteria like having SSN #, Driving Record, Criminal Record, Proof of paying US Taxes & in the USA for more than 5 years. If all good or excellent grant Permanent Visa a.k.a GreenCard.

Posted by: Thumbrule | July 15, 2007 5:04 PM

I agree. People who are legal & in the country should be given priority and treated gracefully. They pay our taxes Fed, Social Security, Medicare and abide by our law, which is much better than someone jumping the "wall".

I would say have a thumbrule/criteria like having SSN #, Driving Record, Criminal Record, Proof of paying US Taxes & in the USA for more than 5 years. If all good or excellent grant Permanent Visa a.k.a GreenCard.

Posted by: Thumbrule | July 15, 2007 5:05 PM

My dear indain friends,
Please dont respond to those who dont understand this globalized economy. Let those ignorant bark to death.

Posted by: Thomas | July 15, 2007 5:14 PM

My dear indain friends,
Please dont respond to those who dont understand this globalized economy. Let those ignorant bark to death.

Posted by: Thomas | July 15, 2007 5:14 PM

I believe that everyone who comes here should have a chance to become a citizen. This country was built by others from other countries in the first place. We are supposed to be the land of the freedom.

Posted by: Jay | July 15, 2007 7:43 PM

Peter and Trivedi,

We are not asking that America change its immigration laws.
All we are saying is that America and its nodal agency for immigration matters (USCIS), has already approved our petitions for legal immigration. They also stated that on July 2 you can apply for green card based on that approved petition, and then they flip-flopped on July 2.

We love the United States and thats why we are here to contribute and live the American Dream. We ask the federal government to show that it is really the leader of the free world, to stop this flip-flop and honor its word to legal immigrants.

As for Gandhi, his methods are globally relevant and not just for India. His methods were already introduced in America by another great man Dr. King. Now a group of highly skilled legal immigrants of all nationalities around the world, are adopting his method to protest injustice meted out to them by the USCIS.

Posted by: mahesh | July 15, 2007 8:11 PM

After paying all the taxes and doing everything legally, dependents (wife(mostly well educated) and childrens H4) of H1-B visa holder can't get SSN# so they can not do jobs. I still do not understand if they can help in moving the economy why they are not letting they work. H4 visa holders childern have to get F1(international students) visa to study in college, meaning they have to pay twice the regular fees.

Posted by: Nirali | July 15, 2007 9:04 PM

With the recent USCIS screw-up, thousand's of people lost thousand's of dollars for lawyers fees, medical exam expenses, change of travel plans, loss of productivity at work (as many people took time off from work). Most of all the frustration faced because of this behavior of USCIS. We totally understand that perm residency is a privilege and not a right. However, Is it fair to play with people's money, time, efforts, sentiments and hopes, just because we are legal immigrants?

Posted by: DD | July 15, 2007 9:14 PM

Justice needs to be done at least to the most talented of all immigrating people .....

Posted by: Cody | July 15, 2007 9:16 PM

As one respondent commented, these people can go to any country they want. So why the US? After all, the US's religions are alien to most of you. The US's customs are alien to most of you.

Read a book titled "While Europe Slept". It vividly illuminates many of the underlying reasons why we Americans are skeptical at handing our culture to you.

You sponged off our universities, generally in in programs that had difficulty attractng American. Many of you are quite competent. So be competent in India or China.

Posted by: monsterblahg | July 15, 2007 10:23 PM

Peter, how typical, I knew before i even read this article there was going to be some moron (you!) that would spout this drivel in the tired old trademark condescending American style..

" "Just because ___ doesn't make it so" (followed by some completely irrelevant example which has been shoe-fitted into your opinion to be used as some sort of supporting logic (why do you people insist on using unrelated examples and think they can be applied universally?). And then..blah blah blah taking our jobs blah blah blah.. taking our jobs wahh wahh wahh" "

How typically arrogant and condescending. I'm sick of seeing this cookie-cutter argument used for everything by you self-righteous Americans. Really, it's getting old, fast.

Instead of going all over the place trying to assemble your lame examples, why don't you just admit that you're a prejudiced douche? We all know it already. Quit hiding in the closet.

Posted by: All Canadian | July 15, 2007 11:21 PM

Basically, monsterblahg is trying to say America is for white people.

Do you even understand the damn issue here? The USCIS used the old bait and switch. These immigrants went through all the hoops of the little USCIS game and met all requirements and were even practically INVITED by the USCIS, only to have the door shut in their face at the end. For the USCIS to lure, bait, promise, and THEN deny at the final stage is not the immigrants .

Posted by: monsterblahg_is_hiding_in_his_closet | July 15, 2007 11:37 PM

Prejudices upfront: I was born in the good ol'US and A, but am of Indian descent.

The fact is that there are not enough skilled humans in the US to support the demand from various technology sectors. And the floodgates to allow skilled immigrants into the US is not large enough either.

And as a political aside, I would think that our current war efforts globally to spread democracy would inspire Americans to support the labor trade with India --- the world's largest democracy.

Posted by: Raj | July 15, 2007 11:58 PM


To say that these students "sponged" off of American universities is a grave misconception; foreign student rates are often 2 to 2.5 times the standard rate. An education from an esteemed American institution means so much to them that they are willing to pay the price. And you are right in that foreign students tend to enter programs that fail to attract American students; is that their fault? At a time when engineering and science students are needed more than ever, you think this is a bad thing? These foreign students are "taking" jobs that wouldn't have been filled in the first place, but are critical to the American economy. Without these positions filled, American innovation would grind to a halt...and move elsewhere to more fertile ground. Keep in mind that China already produces more engineering graduates in a year than all American graduates in all areas of study.

Unfortunately, what you say about these individuals being competent abroad is exactly what is happening. You only need to look at the accelerating growth rates and standards of living in all of Asia to see the truth of that statement. En masse, these highly educated, supremely capable individuals are leaving for their home countries where they can now live a life comparable to one here. There, they are starting companies, hiring their countrymen (and women), and creating the next set of innovations that will drive the future global economy. America, with it's re-emergent bigotry and shortsightedness, unfortunately, might be consigned to failure.

Also, these immigrants are not asking to have your culture "handed" to them; they already have their own (and why trade down?). All they are asking for is an opportunity to be granted what several years of lawful living within the country and paying taxes should have already given them.

Posted by: A Student's Thoughts | July 16, 2007 3:07 AM

"..our current war efforts globally to spread democracy"

I hope thats a joke.
I'm on your side, but come on, who are we kidding? We all know that America's "spreading democracy" slogan is a rhetorical argument and COMPLETE BS (at the barrel of a gun btw democratic is it to force democracy?).. The sentence itself is just crazy. Lets stop lying to ourselves and perpetuating these fake talking points which are already over-used and beaten to death by the media.

Spreading democracy?
Rebuilding Iraq? heh..
Operation Iraqi "freedom"?
'Alleged ties' to Al Qaeda?
-We need to murder these buzzwords & slogans & expose em -not perpetuate em.

Posted by: God | July 16, 2007 4:03 AM

to all canadian,
thank you for your reply,very kind and very much to the point, it was to be expected
what I predict is that flower protest is just a prelude
if the government does not cave in tougher actions will probably follow...

Posted by: peter | July 16, 2007 9:08 AM

Wow, so you're a psychic making wacky predictions now, are ya?
And you base that on what? No facts?! Surprise surprise..
Your prejudice is obviously showing..

Keep making your baseless predictions.. Like they mean anything..

Posted by: All Canadian | July 17, 2007 12:46 AM

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win...


Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2007 2:31 PM

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