In response to: ‘The high cost of Trump’s pointless war on immigrants, sanctuary cities’

By Letter to the Editor, by Sebastian Kelle

Why would anyone move from Germany to the U.S.? Usually, the reasons for this are pretty sound and straightforward: someone gets a job offer, gets accepted to a university or they have someone significant waiting for them. But in my case, all I had was two suitcases, a diversity visa, and the burning wish to try something completely new.

As a researcher in the public sector in Germany, I had reached a point where my career wasn’t satisfying my interests. So, one day, I quit my job and hopped on a one-way flight to the U.S. The adventure had begun.

The migration itself was a big step to take, and ate up the majority of my savings. I had crossed the “point of no return” soon after I arrived. But after a period of traveling and job seeking, I decided to settle down in Chicago.

Chicago appealed to me as an international city and one of the country’s major business hubs. It’s a place where immigrants have a chance to bring in their skills in nearly every branch of the economy.

Becoming self-employed helped me to pay my bills while looking for a permanent job. As an IT-professional I am often doing contract work, simply using my laptop from home. Although there still are ups and downs, I am now living a pretty good life with my partner. In the long run, however, a permanent job is the ideal and safer option.

You have to consider this: on paper, I would be an ideal candidate for several employers. I have a terminal degree in Computer Science, I’m in perfect health, and I speak several languages fluently. Yet, I’ve had no luck finding a regular job. Perhaps I don’t have the right connections. Maybe, similar to credit history, the job history that I built overseas is disregarded.

Still, being the type of immigrant who has had luck in a new country, especially given current government policy, I can only wonder how difficult it must be for other immigrants who have had less fortune.

What amazes me most though, is that the numbers are saying that finding a job should be no problem whatsoever. According to new data from New American Economy (NAE), while Illinois struggles to stay ahead in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), many open opportunities remain unfulfilled. In 2014, nearly 145,000 open STEM jobs were advertised online, yet the state only had 8,649 available STEM workers to fill them — a clear example of demand outpacing supply. This means a lot of potential job growth in our economy is left on the table.

Simply put, my experience in the job market doesn’t line up with what’s actually available. Immigrant workers have high potential to become members of our workforce, fill critical labor gaps, and contribute to economic growth. If Congress enacts policies that make it easier for immigrants to integrate into the workforce, we’d be doing the Illinois economy, and the US economy, a big favor.

Sebastian Kelle

IT Professional in Education Technology

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