President Obama’s executive order on immigration is set to open doors for many spouses of tech and other foreign workers. Our prior post in our Charleston immigration law blog focused more on the procedural end of the discussion, and in this post we explore the social effect that the inability to work has had on many of these spouses.
In 2001, Magdalena Bragun came to the United States from Poland when her husband got a job with Microsoft. She published a paper while attending law school titled “The Golden Cage: How Immigration Law Turns Women into Involuntary Housewives” in which she explored the problem using her personal experience combined with research.
Bragun noted that, because many tech workers are men, the inability to work strips many women of their identity. Not only are they unable to continue their careers as business professionals, doctors, scientists or lawyers. They are unable to do some of the basic things many citizens take for granted, like opening a bank account or renting an apartment. They are completely dependent on their husbands.
“It’s a hit on your self-esteem,” said a supportive tech worker about his wife. “One day you’re a top-notch marketing professional, the next day, you don’t have a career. It took a toll on her identity.”
His wife is very hopeful to return to school, rebuild her skills and get the training she needs to make up for the gap in her resume. She said she is “really excited” for May 26, the day when the change in federal rules is set to go into effect. “It’s going to seem like a miraculous day,” she said.
Bragun said that she was lucky to have a supportive husband, but that others are not. Some other women are entirely dependent on a controlling husband, and they have no options for supporting themselves. It is something she hopes the law will change.
Source: The Seattle Times, “Tech workers’ spouses ready, eager to work under new immigration rules,” Lynn Thompson, April 7, 2015