800 Indian-Americans march in support of Trump’s new immigration policy

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A man holds the flags of India and the U.S. while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade in New York August 16, 2015. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Files

At least 800 Indian-Americans participated in a march outside of the White House on Saturday, Feb. 3, in support of U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to implement a “merit-based” immigration system in the country along with demanding the discontinuation of India’s country quota for Green Card approvals, according to a PTI report.

According to the PTI report, Indian-Americans marched with signs saying “Trump Loves Hindus,” “Trump Loves India,” “Trump bringing Ram Rajya” and “Indians Love Trump,” under the banner of the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC), an organization led by Chicago-based businessman Shalabh Kumar who happens to be close to Trump.

These marchers were all IT professionals and workers who had come from all over the U.S. including California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Illinois and New York.

Krishna Bansal, the National Policy and Political Director of RHC, told PTI that “Trump’s proposal to end family unification immigration would open up more space for Indian skilled workers.”

According to the PTI report, nearly half of the one million Green Cards which are issued every year go to close relatives of American citizens regardless of their skills and the Trump administration wants to restrict this practice.

“Thirty per cent of the country’s skilled immigrants come from India, but they have to wait several decades before being eligible for Green Cards. These are people who are already here, contributing to the economy, paying their taxes and raising their families,” he told PTI.

Bansal added that the group also supported several other proposals including; building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, ending the diversity lottery program for Green Card allotment and the ending of ‘chain migration.’

According to PTI, Indian applicants are often at disadvantage when it comes to acquiring a Green Card as the current country approval rate for India in 7 percent allowing 9,800 people to receive them every year while more than 50,000 people join that queue each year.

The Trump administration has not indicated its views on this issue, but marchers in front of the White House told PTI that the president’s declared preference for “merit-based” immigration would tilt the balance in their favor, according to the PTI report.

Krishna Mullakuri, whose Green Card application has been pending for five years, agreed with the view and told PTI that the emphasis on merit as the primary criteria for allowing new entrants into the country would work to India’s advantage.

According to PTI, Saturday’s march was not only kept to endorse Trump’s immigration proposal but also to highlight the issues concerning the legal residents who are already in the country.

“While the current discussion is primarily focusing on those who illegally entered the country, we are working with the lawmakers to get some attention on this group that reached this country legally but face uncertainty now,” Bansal told PTI.

Another immigration issue which was brought up on Saturday was about the protection of ‘dreamers,’ or undocumented residents who were brought into this country illegally as children.

According to PTI, protection is provided for them under an Obama era executive action which will end in March if new legislative action is not taken as the Trump administration has offered a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented residents if Democrats agree to tougher restrictions on legal immigration and enforcement.

The Indian American marchers on Saturday supported this policy saying “Dreamers Pay for the Wall” and “Make American Strong Again” as Bansal told PTI that since the President’s proposals were generous, those being offered a path to citizenship would be happy to pay any fees that would help fund the building of the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

But it was the future of their children which many marchers were concerned about as upon turning 21, their children would lose their dependency status and will have to be deported back to India.

“These are legal dreamers. Colleges are reluctant to admit them as their visa status has to be changed midway through the course. And once they are graduates, they go back to the end of the queue, again starting with an H-1B application,” Ramesh Ramanath told PTI.

“While they address the issue of dreamers, this question also should get priority,” he added.

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