iNDICA NEWS BUREAU
Pointing to the green card backlog, Immigration Voice has urged the administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to “to remove the systematic discrimination and life-long indentured servitude” of H-1B visa holders from India and “to protect future Indian immigrants from the industrialized process of wholesale exploitation.”
Immigration Voice, a nationwide nonprofit of high-skilled immigrants, called on the administration to “stop issuing such new H-1B visas until the discriminatory per county limits on employment-based green cards are finally lifted and immigrants from India are no longer treated as indentured servants in the United States.”
Due to the per-country limits on employment-based green cards, it said, the current system is “legalized form of indentured servitude that promotes the interest of a handful of employers and perpetrates an industrialized process of wholesale exploitation of skilled Indian immigrants.”
Aman Kapoor, president of Immigration Voice, issued a statement in response to the Biden administration’s decision to allow employers of H-1B visa holders to begin registration online for the H1-B visa lottery, starting March 9, 2021, for the fiscal year 2022.
“Each year, the United States conducts a lottery to admit approximately 85,000 new H-1B Visa workers on what are known as ‘dual-intent work visas’,” Kapoor said.
“These H-1B visas allow workers to enter the United States to work in high-skilled occupations with the intention of ultimately receiving lawful permanent residency (green cards) if they perform well on the job. Each year, approximately 70 percent of those new visas (or nearly 60,000 visas) are issued to workers from India, many of whom enter the United States with their spouses and minor children, with dreams of pursuing a better life for their family and fulfilling their American Dream by working hard and playing by the rules.
“At the same time, discriminatory per-country limits established during the time of segregation restrict Indian nationals to receive only 8,400 of the 120,000 employment-based green cards available each year,” he pointed out.
“As we speak, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service tells us that this discriminatory and arbitrary cap on the number of Indian nationals who can receive lawful permanent residency each year has created a backlog of over 1 million people waiting for green cards, with a wait time of over 195 years. In fiscal year 2030, the line is expected to grow to 436 years. A majority of the green card backlog consists of women and children, who will eventually die in these backlogs.”
He called the per-country limits on the employment-based green card system “100 percent, an Indian Exclusion Act.”
In reality, Kapoor said, this implies a de facto ban on employment-based green cards for any new Indian national entering the United States on an H-1B visa.
“It means that if Vice President Kamala Harris’s mother had come to the United States today, under such a system, she would never have gotten a green card in her lifetime,” Kapoor said.
“The course of Shyamala Gopalan’s daughter’s life would have been entirely different if she had been preoccupied with her mother’s possible deportation, as opposed to living her life as an American.”
Immigration Voice has over 130,000 members, who are taxpaying, law-abiding, high-skilled immigrants.
“Almost every day, we hear reports that one of our members has died while in the backlog, leaving their spouse and children without immigration status such that they must immediately self-deport to India or face actual deportation or life in illegal status,” Kapoor pointed out.
“Every day, we hear from members with homes and families in the United States who are stuck in India because they traveled to perform the last rites for their deceased mother, father, or a relative, and now cannot get a visa appointment, or their visa stamp has been arbitrarily denied by a United States consulate in India.
“Every day, we hear from members who say they have held the same job for 15 years and USCIS has suddenly declared they don’t have the right education to do the same job they have been successfully doing for 15 years. Therefore, they are forced to immediately leave the Unite States with their spouse and kids, or they will all be in illegal status.
“Every day, we hear from members who say they thought they had two more years of H-1B status left, but the last time they came to the airport, their passport only had 6 months of validity, so their stay was cut short by CBP, and now they are subject to illegal status and are facing a 10-year ban from re-entering the United States.
“Every day we hear from members saying that their employer is sexually harassing them, and they can’t do anything out of fear they will lose their employer-sponsored visa, and their kids will be forced back to India.
“Finally, and most commonly, every day, we hear from people who cannot resign from jobs where they are exploited by their employers, who cannot get promotions in jobs despite their qualifications, cannot start companies based on their innovative ideas, and cannot develop their own world-changing patents,” Kapoor said.
He added: “If the current law is not changed, we will soon have the situation where there will be hundreds of thousands of people in senior citizen status working in Silicon Valley. Companies will be left to decide whether to retain these employees for the rest of their lives so as to not cause their deportation or to terminate their employment and cause their deportation when they are no longer able to perform their jobs due to declining health.”
Only India-born high-skilled workers face such discrimination, Kapoor said.
“Workers from virtually every other country can obtain lawful permanent residency within one year of entering the United States. Clearly, the current system has deeply racist outcomes targeting immigrants from India,” he said.
“This is an unconscionable scenario that has been allowed to exist for far too long by lawmakers looking to score political points rather than actually solve this practical problem that they all purport to care about solving. Under this system, over 60,000 additional Indian nationals will unwittingly be lured to enter the United States this year (and every year) to engage in a life of indentured servitude where their very existence and the lives of their families will be completely subject to the whims of their employer, new administrations, or even individual immigration adjudicators having a bad day.”
Immigration Voice called on the Biden administration to use its authority under INA Section 212(f) to exclude any new individual born in India who are not currently in the United States legally from obtaining a new H-1B visa for the first time in Fiscal Year 2022.
Kapoor said: “In the current system, the only people who benefit are unscrupulous employers, staffing companies across various industries who profit enormously from maintaining the status quo, and immigration lawyers who profit from being able to process the maximum number of immigration applications possible by keeping Indian immigrants tied to an endless line of renewals of H-1B visa applications while also double-dipping to keep the green card pool open for people from other countries.
“Until the United States law treats all human beings equally as promised by the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States should stop accepting people to come here to live as third-class visitors with no rights other than fulfilling every demand of their employer or suffer the consequences of deportation,” he added.