Impeachment hysteria, rigid White House stance stall immigration reforms

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White House photo of the 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, on Capitol Hill May 15, where President Trump, during his address, brought the family of slain Indian-American police officer Ronil Singh of Newman, California. (Photo: White House)

NEW YORK – Capitol Hill is in impeachment hysteria. That’s bad news for bills to take shape into legislation, as partisan gridlock comes into play, political gamesmanship rules.

There’s no deadline as to when normalcy could be restored. The wrenching timing has hit hard especially, legal immigrants in limbo for a Green Card, as well as those overseas hoping for permanent residency to join extended family members.

Caught in the wretched mess is the highly anticipated bill “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019,” or S.386. The bill sought to increase the per-country cap on family-based Green Cards from the current 7 percent to 15 percent, and to eliminate the 7 percent cap for employment-based Green Cards. It would have expedited Green Card for especially Indian nationals.

S. 386 has strong bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate, and Its companion bill, HR 1044, was passed by the US House of Representatives in July. There were minor irritants along the way, with only one Senator, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, stalling it from moving ahead.

It seemed that hurdle would be crossed within days or matter of weeks, with smart lobbying and bargaining with Durbin. Then hell broke out over Ukraine. Democrats are today baying for impeachment. S. 386 is perhaps the last thing on their mind to take care of.

However, it’s now evident that even if the bill did come to pass there were higher powers waiting in the wings who were ready to throw a spanner in its progress.

There are wheels within wheels on Capitol Hill with the master charioteer sitting in the White House. If high skilled immigrants were hoping against hope that perhaps, just perhaps, this new bill would yet see daylight before the impeachment imbroglio came to an end, came yet another blow through a TV interview this week which made it clear that the Trump administration is in no mood to give any succor for legal immigrants already here.

Stephen Miller, the White House senior policy adviser, and architect of all hawkish policies to restrict immigration – legal or otherwise, to America, responding to a question by Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs, made it clear that the bill is going to see its demise in the Senate, not move forward for reconciliation with the House, before it could have gone to President Trump’s desk for his approval.

Dobbs, staunch and fierce anti-immigration advocate, gave a loaded question to Miller: “In the Senate, there is a Senate Bill 386… the rights for legal immigrants legislation that would double…the H-1B visas and in so doing it…most of those visas (will go to citizens of)] China and to India…Is the president going to veto the damn thing?”

Miller responded succinctly: “Well, I don’t think that bill, as currently written, is going to be passing the Senate anytime soon,” adding for good measure, “The administration has made clear that our view on (H-1B visa) is that you cannot displace or replace American workers. And the president has taken unprecedented action in the immigration space to do exactly that, including most recently with the public charge regulation to keep newcomers from taking advantage of our welfare system.”

The fact of the matter is that it’s not just the wait for a Green Card that has taken away the quality of life for a lot of legal immigrants. It’s also the fear of traveling overseas with a growing fear that they would be barred from getting back on one pretext or the other.

An example is a family of four – with two small school going children who are American citizens, who are at present stranded in India for the last six weeks because of additional paperwork required for visa stamping, as reported by The Washington Post. The father of the two children is on an H-1B visa, the mother on an H-4 visa.

Their vacation has turned into a nightmare.

Life for immigrants like Saurav Mazumdar and Ishita Menon and their two young children stranded in India, is now as hard as passage of any immigration bill on Capitol Hill. Every dream of theirs is turning into a nightmare.

(Sujeet Rajan is Executive Editor, Parikh Worldwide Media. Email him: sujeet@newsindiatimes.com Follow him on Twitter @SujeetRajan1)

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