Playing By The Rules

The text came from out of the blue over my work messaging system. “I need to talk to you. It’s important,” one of the people who I manage pinged me.

I responded to her reply, afraid that the project she had been working had experienced another setback. When I assigned her to the project I hadn’t realized I was sending her into a hornet’s nest, but like so many IT projects, one really can’t tell what the project is going to be like until one’s knee-deep into it. I texted her my phone number, and my office phone rang within seconds.

“I have to resign,” she said.

“What?”

Like many of our contractors, Sri (not her real name of course) is from India and has been living in the United States for several years with her husband and young children. Sri has been a part of my team  and has done solid, dependable work even though I feel that like many Asian women she doesn’t get the respect she deserves in the predominantly male IT field. A few months back she became the scapegoat for the project deadlines being missed, so I stepped in to provide cover and bore some of the heat while she continued her work. Within days she had fixed the problems and the project had gone quiet, humming along with short boring status meetings and the occasional emails, but the stings hadn’t worn off just yet. Had she kicked the nest again somehow? Did someone push her over the edge?

She explained that she and her husband had been waiting for years for their green cards, and had just learned that it would take another half a year – possibly longer – before they came through. Meanwhile their work visas were expiring this summer. The school year was starting in India in the Spring and she didn’t want her kids to be left behind, so she had to quit and return to India in the next few weeks so that they could enroll and attend school. Her husband would finish up his assignment and and reunite with his family in June.

I was dumbfounded. I had enough work to keep her busy well into the year, but I knew what she was dealing with. Having worked abroad I have waited for visas to clear or traveled outside the country simply to get my passport stamped with the correct visa. Knowing the rules and playing by them was critical to succeeding in a foreign country as a researcher or worker, at least it was until recently when American liberals decided borders didn’t matter.

Sri is a diligent worker and I’m sure I’ll run into her again but not for a little while. She’s playing by the rules, returning to her country and waiting in line for her turn at the elusive Green Card.

She’s a hardworking mother and wife who cares about her children’s education enough to cut short her stay so that they don’t miss out on their education. Her family is exactly what we need in our country, and is the modern version of my Irish ancestors who risked everything to come here. Like them Sri’s playing by the rules and paying the price.

Think about Sri the next time you hear a liberal justify illegal immigration.

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