“We fail if we stop working,” Aman Kapoor, co-founder and president of Immigration Voice, said in response to Senate Bill S386, or The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, which was blocked by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) on Oct.17.
If passed, the act would have created a fair and equitable “first come, first served” system for receiving employment-based green cards, ending the quota system that has left a million Indian immigrants in a decades-long queue.
After much effort, on July 10, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives by 365 votes to 65, the first bipartisan immigration bill to pass through either chamber of Congress this year.
Kapoor, who has been fighting for years to get rid of the country quotas for green cards, told indica, “Passing a bill is not an event, it is a process. And we are going through the process and will get the bill done.”
In a press statement earlier, Kapoor had said Sen Durbin “knows full well” that he was blocking a bill written by Democrats and whose sole purpose was to end discrimination based on national origin.
The Immigration Voice president told indica, “Indian immigrants are seeking equality, but Durbin is opposed to equal treatment of Indian immigrants.”
The senator, however, denies this charge. His office sent indica an email about a new bill introduced by Durbin.
Emily Hampsten, Director Of Communications for the senator, said Durbin and Sen Patrick Leahy (D-VT), introduced the RELIEF Act Wednesday(Oct.16) which would eliminate the family and employment green card backlog by increasing the number of green cards on offer.
“One of the most serious problems in our broken immigration system is that there are not nearly enough green cards available each year,” Sen Durbin said. “As a result, immigrants are stuck in crippling backlogs for years.”
According to him, the solution is not to lift country quotas but to increase the number of green cards. “I’m proud to introduce this commonsense legislation to finally eliminate the family and employment green card backlog,” Sen Durbin said.
Sen Leahy said, “America at its core is a nation of immigrants, but too often our outdated immigration laws close the doors on those who would make enormous contributions to our communities and economy. The mismatch between the supply and demand for green cards has left millions of immigrant families in legal limbo, stuck in a years-long backlog waiting for the chance to contribute to our nation. This commonsense legislation—the crux of which was contained in comprehensive immigration reform, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate in 2013—would eliminate this backlog and is long overdue.”
Close to four million people are on the State Department’s immigrant visa waiting list, in addition to hundreds of thousands already in the US who are waiting for green cards.
However, under current law, only 226,000 family green cards and 140,000 employment green cards are available annually. Children and spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) count against these numbers, further restricting the number of available green cards.
Specifically, the RELIEF Act will:
- Eliminate the family and employment green card backlog over five years in the order in which applications were filed;
- Keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits;
- Protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition;
- Lift country caps; and
- Extend the “hold harmless” clause from HR 1044 that exempts immigrant visa petitions approved prior to enactment from lifting of country caps to petitions approved for five years after enactment