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We The Legal

We The Legal

By Ananya R.
Legal immigrants are everywhere in the US workforce and yet, the dialogue on immigration policy, its politics and impacts rarely include our voices, stories and first-hand lived realities.

We invite everyday immigrants behind the scenes, beyond the rhetoric and the cacophony of online debates, to talk to us about the role of immigration in shaping the trajectory of their lives and livelihoods.

This podcast is hosted by me, Ananya R. Our producers are Anvit and Arjun.
For more information on the podcast, go to wethelegalpodcast.com/. We can be reached on Twitter @wethelegal.
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S2: Quick update
We have a quick announcement about the season 2 release.
00:47
August 24, 2021
S2: By Design — Trailer
Season 1 was a conversation on the pathway from coming to the US as an international student and going on to navigate the employment-based immigration pipeline to Permanent Residence. It was a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of the employment-based immigration processes- work visas, student work authorizations, application for permanent residence etc. We talked about the various unseen struggles in that pathway through the voices of guests who had experienced them. In Season 2, we start with asking a larger question. How did we get to the system we now have? What came before it? What is its legacy and how does it all tie into the serious problems in immigration today?
02:40
August 15, 2021
Looking back
When we started We, The Legal we did so with the aim of defining the problem. Indeed, that was the name of the introduction episode! Now, 4 episodes down the road we hope that we have conveyed the details, depth and disruption behind some of the most common issues in the employment-based legal immigration system that we have today. We chose to be vulnerable, open, transparent. We picked guests who could provide a wide lens on the issues behind their professional facades and often significant accomplishments. But, while the series of four episodes concludes with us tying up the loose ends, the issue goes on as does the endeavor we have embarked upon, to shine a light on the lives being lived on this path. If you have been, thank you for listening to a podcast that gives everyday immigrants a chance to share their stories. We want to hear from you, our listeners, no matter where you happen to stand on the arena of immigration. As an audience, a stakeholder, a curious bystander or out on the streets, far away from it all. Have something to share with us? Leave us a voice message here (which might be featured in a future episode!). Alternatively, you can find us on Twitter/Instagram at @wethelegal and you can email us at wethelegal@outlook.com. Share your opinions and stories, your anecdotes and challenges because the tapestry of this discussion is made rich by all of those who participate in it factually, respectfully and productively. Note: The conclusion episode was recorded nearly 6 months back, prior to the pandemic and the recent spate of immigration related actions taken by the administration. Some elements of the episode therefore, reflect a different time but hey, while the times may be different, the issues are very much the same, and indeed, have sometimes compounded.
14:37
August 08, 2020
#4 The cost of the American life
When Lisa arrived in the US in 2012, for a Masters' program, immigration was far from her mind. As the urgent knock of the real world intensified around graduation, it appeared that there would be a few steps in this process and by as long as the rules were followed, immigration would be mostly procedural. Nearly 8 years after she first arrived, we talk to Lisa about the emotional toll of a turbulent immigration journey. We reconcile who she was, who she has become and what parts of herself seem to have been lost to this stressful path and what a threshold of tolerance might look like for her, when she reconsiders if the costs are worthwhile after all. You can find more details on our website — We, The Legal
54:51
July 31, 2020
The Green Card backlog — A chronic struggle
What happens to you, if you came to the US as a kid, along with your parents on a visa who decide to pursue life in the US long term? The typical happy ending would be that you and your parents, become legal permanent residents and eventually, citizens by naturalization. This idyllic happy ending though, is not the reality for applicants who are caught in the gauntlet of the Green Card backlog. For the children in these families that grew up with a sense of belonging to the US, the reality is more than just disappointing- it is destabilizing to the point of ripping families apart and utterly changing the course of life itself. This past week, amidst discussions on the latest round of Covid-19 relief, a deeply important discussion, but largely unnoticed discussion took place in the Senate. Important enough that we have decided to take this week to pivot to the topic of the consequences that children of immigrants stuck in the Green Card backlog face. One such child, whose life stands at the brink of this destabilizing reality, is 16 year old Sarvani from St. Louis, MO and this week, we introduce you to her life, her challenges and the cost that a fractured immigration has inflicted on her and her family. Listen to our bonus episode, and follow along to the article here.
06:38
July 25, 2020
#3 Path less trodden
Sandhya came to the US as a student, pursuing a non-STEM degree, not realizing the unfavourable immigration path this decision would put her on. The limited conversation around legal immigration, tends to be slanted wholly towards tech and tech-allied sectors, with immigrants in non-STEM sectors largely forgotten even in their own communities. Later in life, Sandhya obtained a Green Card by marriage, a path that is considered almost a "shortcut" to American Permanent Residency, with those on this path subject to some poorly concealed prejudices. She shares her journey on the two unusual paths she has inhabited, and shows us elements of the legal immigration process that even we aren't familiar with, making us as much of an audience as you! References: For green card backlog- https://www.cato.org/blog/150-year-wait-indian-immigrants-advanced-degrees For opt and stem extension- https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/training-opportunities-in-the-united-states Opt and stem extension application- https://www.uscis.gov/opt Opt and stem extension unemployment days - https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/unemployment-counter H1B Cap - https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models H1B Lottery - https://www.murthy.com/2019/12/16/frequently-asked-questions-about-h1b-cap-and-electronic-registration-system/ Green Card Backlog - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2020/visa-bulletin-for-july-2020.html H4-EAD: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses EB1: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-first-preference-eb-1 I-797**:**https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/form-i-797-types-and-functions\ H1-B Program: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/immigration/h1b STEM Fields: https://www.ed.gov/stem#:~:text=These are the kinds of,disciplines collectively known as STEM Green Card for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens: https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-eligibility/green-card-immediate-relatives-us-citizen
52:28
July 17, 2020
#2 Visas and the work-life
Sumit is the quintessential legal immigrant — a Silicon Valley techie. We talk to him about where the line is between immigration regulations governing the activities of foreign nationals like him, and life itself, being constrained by those very regulations. He tells us his thoughts behind career choices, furniture purchases, and indeed, buying a car and home. In doing so, he shows us the many unintended consequences that current legal immigration policy can have in the lives of those that walk this path. References: For green card backlog- https://www.cato.org/blog/150-year-wait-indian-immigrants-advanced-degrees For opt and stem extension- https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/training-opportunities-in-the-united-states Opt and stem extension application- https://www.uscis.gov/opt Opt and stem extension unemployment days - https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/unemployment-counter H1B Cap - https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models H1B Lottery - https://www.murthy.com/2019/12/16/frequently-asked-questions-about-h1b-cap-and-electronic-registration-system/ Green Card Backlog - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2020/visa-bulletin-for-july-2020.html H4-EAD: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/employment-authorization-certain-h-4-dependent-spouses EB1: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/permanent-workers/employment-based-immigration-first-preference-eb-1 I-797**:**https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/form-i-797-types-and-functions\ H1-B Program: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/immigration/h1b STEM Fields: https://www.ed.gov/stem#:~:text=These are the kinds of,disciplines collectively known as STEM
47:14
July 10, 2020
#1 The beginnings: Student life and beyond
It's hard to picture the extent to which government agencies and policies can pull the strings of life, until you lead the immigrant existence. Immigration policies, some of them archaic and clunky, often end up impacting every aspect of an immigrant's life- from the roles one is employed in, travel plans and even something as mundane as renewing a driver's license. So, what is living life in this framework like? What is the good, what's the bad? We sit down with Arjun, a young tech professional and a friend from graduate school, to pull back the curtain on why he's here and what keeps him going, in the face of serious immigration-related challenges. References: For Green Card backlog- https://www.cato.org/blog/150-year-wait-indian-immigrants-advanced-degrees Current status of Green Card backlog - https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2020/visa-bulletin-for-july-2020.html For opt and stem extension- https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students/training-opportunities-in-the-united-states Opt and stem extension application- https://www.uscis.gov/opt Opt and stem extension unemployment days - https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/student-records/fm-student-employment/unemployment-counter H1B Cap - https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-1b-specialty-occupations-dod-cooperative-research-and-development-project-workers-and-fashion-models H1B Lottery - https://www.murthy.com/2019/12/16/frequently-asked-questions-about-h1b-cap-and-electronic-registration-system/
51:03
July 04, 2020
Defining the problem
Who is a legal immigrant? What are the paths to legal immigration in the US? Where do those that work in the US on visas, fit into all of this? The introductory episode of We, the legal gives you clarity on these topics, breaking down the complexity of legal immigration into bite-sized pieces. Note - We mistakenly referred to the USCIS as US Customs and Immigration Services. USCIS is, in fact, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Sources: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/yearbook_immigration_statistics_2017_0.pdf
06:36
June 28, 2020