Viewpoint leaves graduate student
‘flabbergasted’

To the Daily:

As an engineering graduate student looking to graduate in about
a year, I’m starting to know the frustrations of job
searching. Further, I think I can understand how frustrating it
could be for noncitizens to be turned down for interview after
interview because of their citizenship status. However, we
shouldn’t let our frustrations and bitterness drive us to
make unreasonable accusations as to why we don’t get certain
jobs, which is what I feel Walid El-Asmar did in his written
viewpoint (Following Through, 10/21/04).

I must say, when I read that piece, I was a little …
flabbergasted. Beginning with his accusation that a policy of
preferential hiring of U.S. citizens is unjust, El-Asmar moved
right into some passive-aggressive insults aimed at the quality of
the U.S. student body, and then devolved into some erratic rant
about how this all leads to suicide bombings in Gaza. I think,
overall, the underlying message is that Walid El-Asmar is pissed
because no one will hire him because they think he’s a
terrorist. I’ll make one concession and say that he might be
right about that. However, his broader argument that it is unjust
for some U.S. companies to require employees to have U.S.
citizenships is, I think, ridiculous. There are other merits to
look at besides technical skills, and I think a U.S. citizenship is
a real merit for many companies. Here are a few reasons why:

For one, a significant number of these employers are
laboratories or contractors that work on classified technology and
have to deal with issues of national security. Also, even some
non-contractors have to deal with “export control” on
some technologies. So, it really isn’t practical for them to
hire noncitizens because these noncitizens couldn’t work on
these types of projects. Besides these direct national security
issues, there is also the issue of accountability. There is a
character requirement to getting a U.S. citizenship, and a lot of
companies like to see that. Also, if a person has gone through the
trouble of getting his citizenship, it demonstrates a commitment to
staying here, increasing the likelihood that the prospective hiree
will make a permanent career of his or her new job and not run off
with company secrets to work in Taiwan (see Intel).

In the end, though, a person just might not agree with my
security and accountability arguments and still say it all just
isn’t fair. I would argue that it is indeed totally fair and
just for any country or company to look out for its own interests
and to try to maintain its own technological advantage. If that
means we enact policies to protect our expertise, including the
preferential hiring of U.S. citizens for sensitive positions, so be
it. I would expect any country to do the same. As for
El-Asmar’s frustrations with his job search, I wish him the
best, and I’d want to remind him that it isn’t just a
certain group of countries that the employers are
“discriminating” against. I know a few European
students having the same troubles finding themselves a job.

Trevor Strickler

Rackham

 

American companies justified in requiring employees to be
citizens

To the Daily:

While I appreciate the frustration of finding a job in
today’s environment, I believe that Walid El-Asmar overlooked
two major factors in his recent viewpoint (Following
through
, 10/21/04).

The first factor is simple, and hopefully not too controversial.
Many of the companies represented at the career fair were either
U.S. agencies (CIA, NSA, NRC, etc.) or defense contractors
(Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, etc.) who require employees to
obtain a security clearance.

Security clearances cannot be given to foreign nationals, and so
these types of companies do not hire foreign nationals, as they
cannot obtain the necessary security clearances. I do not believe
this is discriminatory, it’s just common sense that if
you’re doing classified government work, you need to be a
U.S. citizen.

El-Asmar continues in his viewpoint to say that “Any
nationality-based policy … is a form of
discrimination.” He neglects to mention that in many other
countries around the world, foreigners are generally prohibited
from seeking employment.

In Germany (and most European Union countries) for example,
non-EU citizens may not seek employment except under exceptional
circumstances, and even then may not be allowed to work
permanently. In Egypt, companies are restricted to the number of
foreigners they may employ. Engineering jobs are leaving the United
States and landing in countries that won’t even allow
Americans to work. Is it so wrong for U.S. companies to protect
those jobs still left and offer preferences to American
citizens?

The United States still allows foreigners to work within its
borders, but this is a privilege and not a right. I hope that we
never are in a situation like Germany, where due to high
unemployment, foreigners are mostly excluded from the job market.
However, America has neither the obligation nor the ability to
employ the world.

We allow foreigners to work here because we find many benefits,
both cultural and practical, but this is not something that should
be taken for granted. Is it unethical to make sure that our own
citizens are taken care of in their own country before others? I
don’t think so.

Ian Fette

Engineering senior

 

 

Oppose discrimination; vote no on Proposal 2

To the Daily:

Throughout America’s history, our society has made
monumental mistakes by discriminating against others. We pride
ourselves in being a land of justice, equality and freedom, yet we
consistently deny rights to individuals based on race, religious
beliefs, sex, ethnicity and now sexuality.

Michigan law already denies homosexuals the right to marry.
However, Proposal 2 requests that we add this denial of rights to
our state constitution. If voters pass Proposal 2, however, they
will not simply re-affirm their stance against gay marriage, but
will also unintentionally do much more. The proposal’s
language insists on the elimination of legal recognition
“similar” to marriage “for any purpose.”
Therefore, voters will also eliminate homosexuals’
eligibility for civil unions and more importantly, health insurance
and other such benefits from their employers. This unnecessary
removal of benefits would also deny those benefits to the children
of any homosexual couples.

Proposal 2 is not worth taking away the benefits of even one
child. No matter what stance you take on homosexual marriage, every
person within Michigan should agree that all children are entitled
to health insurance and benefits. No child should be left behind
because of discrimination. No child should be left behind because
of unnecessary initiatives. No child should be left behind for any
purpose at any time. However, Proposal 2 would leave many children
behind, simply to re-affirm what is already illegal. Homosexuals do
not have the right to marry in Michigan. Proposal 2 is unnecessary
and would hurt Michigan families and children.

Proposal 2 is also a mistake because it asks voters to rubber
stamp discrimination in our society. America has discriminated
against many groups throughout her history, most notably against
Native Americans, blacks and women. Our nation has been faced with
many choices, and we always seem to make the wrong ones. Generation
after generation, Americans have been forced to undo mistakes made
against others. We still fight daily to guarantee equality to
blacksand even women in the workforce. Michigan voters are now
faced with another choice. We may choose to yet again allow
discrimination, adding it to our much-beloved constitution, or we
can stand up against discrimination, attempting to stop the
epidemic that has spread throughout America. We can be one of the
first states to say “NO!” and we must.

We must live up to Martin Luther King Jr.’s words:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and
live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal. We must take a stand
because I to have a dream: that I will not be forced to undo the
mistakes of this generation as they were forced to undo the
mistakes of the one before them. That I will live in a nation of
true equality, in a nation where at least one state can say
‘We will not tolerate injustice, inequality, and
hatred.’ ” Please vote no on Proposal 2. Don’t
make another historic mistake.

Travis Radina

LSA freshman

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