Rep. Krishnamoorthi, other lawmakers, demand relief for H-1B, high-skilled workers

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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, posing for photo on Capitol Hill. Photo:courtesy Facebook @CongressmanRaja

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL, called on his Congressional colleagues to join him in sending a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the need to address the employment-based green card backlog as part of budget reconciliation.

Any package that addresses longstanding immigration priorities must include relief for the approximately 1.2 million individuals unable to receive a green card primarily due to country-based discrimination, Rep. Krishnamoorthi and several other lawmakers announced Aug. 23, 2021.

“I am pleased that tackling our broken immigration system is part of the budget reconciliation discussion,” said Congressman Krishnamoorthi. “However, it is imperative any immigration package include provisions to address the employment-based green card backlog, which is damaging American competitiveness and abandoning 1.2 million people to perpetual nonimmigrant status..”

Rep. Krishnamoorthi called on colleagues, “to immediately raise this important issue with leadership and ensure that relief for backlogged high-skilled workers is included in the final package. Our economic recovery from COVID-19 depends on it.”

The text of the letter Congressman Krishnamoorthi is leading, along with Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Deborah Ross (D-NC), will be sent in one week.

It notes that American economy has largely rebounded from the depths of the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but 8.7 million remain unemployed2 and the recovery is still fragile. Millions remain unable to
pay their rent and student loans, and Medicaid/CHIP enrollment grew by over 10 million during the pandemic3. At the same time, the 2020 Census revealed that the U.S. population grew at the slowest rate since the 1930s,
which will put further strain on social safety net programs as the population ages without new additions to the labor force, the lawmakers argue.

Despite this picture, under current law, the American economy is unable to access the full international talent pool of high-skilled workers already present and working in the United States today, the letter says, like the scientists, inventors, health care workers, entrepreneurs, and other professionals that give the United States its edge over its global competitors today.

“This is because there is effectively a green card ban on
high-skilled immigrants from India, China, and other countries with large populations of workers eager to remain in America and power forward our economy and social safety net programs for generations to
come” the letter says.

Right now, no more than 7% of employment-based green cards are available to individuals from a single country, which has created a decades-long backlog for would-be immigrants from India and China, they note.

“Indian nationals face a particularly daunting backlog of 80 years, and an anticipated 200,000 will die before achieving lawful permanent resident status,” the letter notes.

This arbitrary cap is keeping some of the world’s most talented individuals from permanently calling America home, encouraging them to take their inventions, expertise, and creativity to other countries instead, the lawmakers warn.

Failure to provide a path to lawful permanent residence for the 1.2 million people in the employment-based green card backlog, most of whom are H-1B visa holders, would be tantamount to staging an economic recovery with one hand tied behind our back, they say.

The letter demands that the situation of H-1B visa holders “must” be
addressed in the budget reconciliation package currently under negotiation.

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