As the Congress and Trump dance around the issue of immigration?
The American immigration system continues to fail on different levels….
An estimated 800,000 immigrants who are working legally in the United States are waiting for a green card, an unprecedented backlog in employment-based immigration that has fueled a bitter policy debate but has been largely overshadowed by President Trump’s border wall fight and the administration’s focus on migrant crossings from Mexico.
Most of those waiting for employment-based green cards that would allow them to stay in the United States permanently are Indian nationals. And the backlog among this group is so acute that an Indian national who applies for a green card now can expect to wait up to 50 years to get one.
The wait is largely the result of an annual quota unchanged since 1990 and per-country limits enacted decades before the tech boom made India the top source of employment-based green card seekers.
The backlog has led to competing bills in Congress and has pitted immigrants against immigrants, setting off accusations of racism and greed and exposing a deep cynicism about the prospects for any kind of immigration reform in a polarized nation. The debate centers on the potential benefits of a quick fix to alleviate the wait times for those already in the backlog versus a broader immigration overhaul that could allow more workers to seek permanent residency, address country quotas and expand the number of available green cards.
Among those pushing for a quick resolution are business leaders, who worry that a congressional stalemate — doing nothing at all — could push Indian workers out of the United States and cause others to seek easier paths to citizenship in other countries.
The crisis of employment-based green cards burst into the open in October after a narrow bill to address the issue nearly passed the Senate in a unanimous consent motion, after sailing easily through the House. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) stepped in and blocked it.
The bill’s supporters cast it as an easy and obvious fix — and one that “arguably has wider and more bipartisan support than any other immigration bill that’s been considered in this body in recent years,” its Senate sponsor, Mike Lee (R-Utah), said after Durbin objected. “The reason for that is, it’s focused on a single, serious, solvable problem that I think we can all agree needs to be solved.”
But Durbin and other critics of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which aims to provide relief to Indians by eliminating the country quotas for employment green cards, said it isn’t so simple. Because the bill did not increase the overall number of green cards, they argue, the backlog will worsen, wait times for all nationalities will extend to 17 years, and a trickle-down effect will make it difficult for working professionals from anywhere other than India to come to the United States.
Durbin proposed his own bill, the Relief Act, which eliminates the country quotas but raises the number of employment and family-based green cards. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) also proposed a comprehensive bill….