Senator Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, has taken up the cause of Indian children in the U.S. who are here legally but face the prospect of losing their legal status because of the decades it takes their parents to get a green card.
In a call-in press conference Feb. 20, Sen. Paul said he was pushing amendments to protect those who came as children legally to the U.S. in the controversial and contentious immigration reform bill that appears stalled in Congress.
While politicians, activists, religious leaders and the media have been advocating for giving legal status to those who entered the country illegally while they were children – and call them “dreamers” in reference to the popular theme of the American Dream – those who came here legally by following the laws will be subject to deportation.
“We should give equal importance to DALCA kids,” Paul said, referring to Deferred Action for Legal Childhood Arrivals, a situation facing many Indian youth. In contrast, those who came in illegally are covered by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) an executive action taken by President Obama to give them a path to legalization.
“Once people are aware (of DALCA), they want to fix it. But all of it (debate) is focused on illegal immigrants,” right now, Sen. Paul said during the press conference organized by the Republican Hindu Coalition.
On how to draw national attention to the plight of DALCA kids, Sen. Paul said, “Seems the Congress will be more sympathetic to legal kids,” if they are made aware. He urged Indian-Americans to question Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Virginia, who are leading the Republican efforts in the Senate and House respectively, on what they are doing for DALCA kids. “There are not enough voices,” for this group, Paul said. “We’ve reached out, but the average Congressman has not heard enough,” Paul contended. That means going to Congress, talking to staff, sending emails. “All of these add up,” Paul said. But right now, most of the lobbying voices are coming from DACA immigrants, he noted.
Other members of Congress have also taken up the legal immigrant children’s issue. House Resolution 392, ” Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017,” which was sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in January 2017, calls for lifting the 7 percent country limit on green cards and has garnered the support of 315 members of Congress by Feb. 20, and is supported by advocacy and lobbying groups like Immigration Voice which is led by persons of Indian origin, whose stated goal is “working to alleviate the problems faced by legal high-skilled future Americans in the United States.”DALCA
And a “Dear Colleague” letter signed by members on both sides of the aisle, initiated by Sen. Paul, and Reps. Kevin Yoder, R-Kansas, and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, calls for support of H.R. 392. It points to the plight of those H-1B visa holders, a large number of whom are Indian, waiting for decades for the green card.
“… as we endeavor in good faith to come up with a compromise that would remedy the effects caused by the repeal of the DACA program, we must not lose sight of the fact, that, under the current system, when H-1B visa holders from certain countries are forced to wait decades to receive a green card, the children of those H-1B holders can fall out of legal status and would not be covered by either DACA or the DREAM Act,” their Dear Colleague letter says. “Those children who came in legally through no fault of anyone will suddenly be faced with the choice of remaining illegally in the United States or leaving the only country they have even known as home. Passing H.R. 392 is the only way to help these legal residents, a group that includes some of the most talented young students in America’s schools today,” it adds.
Sen. Paul, during the press conference said, “We’ve been advocating for more employment-based immigration. … We are advocating for doubling that number,” he said, noting that EB visas numbered approximately 140,000.
In a Feb. 18, letter to President Donald Trump, RHC says there is a current green card backlog of 3.4 million family/chain applicants, and 1 million backlog of highly skilled applicants, waiting for green cards, and that the wait time is 3-4 years for the first category and about 60 to 70 years for the second. “And due to Country Limit Cap of 7% from any single country, like India, only 8400 or 0.787% went to high-skilled applicants including their dependents,” RHC contends in its letter. A side-effect of the wait time is that some 200,000 children, RHC says, who came legally with their parents would become illegal if their parents do not get green cards before these kids turn 21. The organization has launched an awareness campaign calling the 60-year wait “unacceptable” and demanding immediate green cards for “LEGAL Dreamers.”
The largest number of H-1B or high skilled visas are taken by Indian immigrants, thus it can be presumed that a large number of DALCA kids would be of Indian origin.