- In a letter signed by a coalition of 40 of his colleagues, the co-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Immigration Task Force brings attention to around 200,000 Indian nationals who “will die before achieving lawful permanent resident status.”
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), the co-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Immigration Task Force, is calling to end the employment-based green card backlog, due to which Indian and Chinese nationals face decades-long wait to become permanent U.S. residents. In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a coalition of 40 members of the U.S. Congress, led by Krishnamoorthi, requested that the budget reconciliation package provide relief to the 1.2 million individuals stuck in the employment-based green card backlog, strengthening our economy in the process.
“I led 40 Members of Congress in a letter to Congressional leadership calling for an end to the arbitrary country cap on employment-based green cards,” Krishnamoorthi tweeted. “There are 1.2 million people stuck in this backlog waiting to contribute GREATLY to our economy.”
Under the current system, no more than 7% of employment-based green cards are available to individuals from a single country, the letter notes. “As a result, individuals from countries with large populations — such as India and China — face decades-long wait times to achieve lawful permanent resident status,” it adds.
“Indian nationals face a particularly daunting backlog of 80 years, and an anticipated 200,000 will die before achieving lawful permanent resident status,” reads the letter. Highlighting that “this arbitrary cap is keeping some of the world’s most talented individuals from permanently calling America home,” signatories noted that this encouraged them to take their inventions, expertise, and creativity to other countries instead.
Most workers in the employment-based green card backlog are already in the United States on temporary nonimmigrant visas, such as the H-1B visa for workers in specialty occupations, “that are renewable but greatly restrict beneficiaries from reaching their full potential,” the letter notes. H-1B holders are unable to change jobs or start their own businesses – “despite the fact that they have been shown to boost overall productivity, wages, and new patents,” it adds.
“In order to fully unlock the economic potential of high-skilled immigrants, a pathway to lawful permanent residence must be cleared and the system must be reformed,” the letter urges, adding that the reforming this immigration system “will be especially helpful to the United States as its economy and workforce continues to recover from the pandemic.” And “failure to provide a path to lawful permanent residence for the 1.2 million people in the employment-based green card backlog, most of whom are H-1B visa holders, would be tantamount to staging an economic recovery with one hand tied behind our back,” the letters warns. “Permanently relegating H-1B holders to nonimmigrant status while China, Russia, and other major powers are ascendant on the world stage – and hungry to be home to the innovators of the 21st century – is simply nonsensical. This can and must be addressed in the budget reconciliation package currently under negotiation.”
Krishnamoorthi was one of the original cosponsors of the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which passed the House last Congress. In an earlier interview with American Kahani, Krishnamoorthi said he, along with California Congressman Zoe Lofgren “are the champions for the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrant Act which removes the per-country cap for H-1B holders.”
He said he was “honored that the House passed our bill last Congress; we were not able to get through the Senate. So this time around I am really looking forward to getting it, not only through the House and the Senate but signed into law,” he added.
Krishnamoorthi is the original co-sponsor of the legislation that has been proposed by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D.Calif.) and Sen. Bob Melendez (D-N.J.) to put comprehensive immigration reform forward. He is also the original co-sponsor of the DREAM Act. “There are South Asian Dreamers as well,” he said. “We need to get them on a path to citizenship“I am going to continue on all these fronts as a co-chair of this task force and we need to get some victories on immigration.”