A group of Indians on H1B visa held a rally in Washington DC on Wednesday morning, demanding immigration reforms to benefit those in the country legally.
Indian immigrants, including women and children, organised an Equality Rally with the key goal of getting Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois and also the lone senator who has stalled the passing of a bill that would make receiving employment-based green cards a first come first serve system.
“These are taxpaying law-abiding skilled immigrants who are already in the country for many years — doctors, engineers, scientists and professors. They are stuck in the long green card backlog which will span 150 years! What we are doing here is protesting Senator Durban’s hold on the bill yesterday and he is making sure that Indian immigrants who are already here would not get equal treatment under the law, which is unfair,” said Aman Kapoor, Immigration Voice president.
Immigration Voice organisation banded together outside the Capitol with strong sentiments on why the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’ should be passed in order to remove the current 7 per cent per-country cap on employment visas.
Placards at the rally included ones that read, “Hate Has No Home Here”, “Senator Durbin Hates Indian Immigrants” and “Racism is a Disease”.
Another key demand of the group was that the green card backlog must be cleared as opposed to the current wait time, that could run into decades for employment-based green cards for Indians.
“Well, the American dream I think is no longer true for Indian immigrants with the way the system is today. It is very discriminatory. I wish somebody told me that when I was young, I always grew up watching American sitcoms and serials and imagined the lifestyle that I would have and I worked really hard towards it. But that, unfortunately, is not happening for me right now. So if I were to go back in, in my previous time and reset this, I would probably think otherwise,” a protestor told ANI.
The group is also aggressively pushing for legal childhood arrivals (LCAs) to receive any benefits that individuals brought illegally to the US as minors (a group often referred to as “Dreamers”) might receive legal status in the United States. H1B visa-holders, whose children and spouses get H4-dependent visas, are asking that H4 children be given green cards straight away, so they can remain in the US after they turn 21 without having to switch to another visa category, such as a student visa or an H1B visa or having to self-deport.
Seventeen-year-old Srikar Patani said that immigrants like himself live in uncertainty due to long waits for an employment visa that could take decades and the potential of being sent home after he ages out of her parent’s residency.
“This is where I live, where I grew up and I have been in India for only two years and I just do not think it is fair.” the teen added.
“I came to America with my family around 11 or 12 years ago. I still do not have my green card and I just turned 21. So I aged out of my parents’ green card process. I need to restart the whole green card process again from the beginning. With the current country cap, my chances of getting a green card and staying in America are very slim,” Tejaswi, another protestor, said.
“In the DREAM Act, we have requested him (Senator Durban) and his staff for last nearly 15 years to include children of Indian immigrants who are legal immigrants in the US, but they have systematically excluded children of Indian immigrants,’ Aman Kapoor told ANI.
ANI reached out to Senator Durbin and are awaiting a response. But as of now, the High Skilled Immigrants Act has passed the House but not the Senate.