Indian-origin US Senator Kamala Harris is in favour of lifting the existing per-country caps for employment-based green cards, her presidential campaign has said, while asserting that 95 per cent in line for legal permanent residency is primarily from India, China, the Philippines and Vietnam.
Earlier this year, Harris’ presidential campaign had started, is not doing well in recent weeks, and has been polling low among more than dozen-and-a-half Democratic presidential aspirants.
On Tuesday, she reached out to over 24 million Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the US and collectively called the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) community, which is the fastest-growing demographic group in the country.
At the same time, the demand for immigrant workers shows no signs of abating. For six consecutive years, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received so many petitions that it has hit the annual cap for H-1B visas (for high-skilled workers) within five business days of opening the filing period, her campaign said.
“Kamala believes we must do more to eliminate discriminatory backlogs and protect immigrant workers so they can stay in our country and continue to contribute to the economy,” said her campaign.
The bill, when signed into law, increases the per-country cap on family-based immigrant visas from seven per cent of the total number of such visas available that year to 15 per cent and eliminates the seven per cent cap for employment-based immigrant visas
A Green Card allows a non-US citizen to live and work permanently in America.
The bill titled ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019’ or ‘HR 1044’ to eliminate the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrants, to increase the per-country numerical limitation for family-sponsored immigrants, and for other purposes was passed on Wednesday by 365-65 votes in a 435-member House
As president, Harris will clear the family visa backlog as part of her plan for a fair and just immigration system,” the campaign said.
Most of the immigration backlogs are for family-sponsored applicants (314,000 from the Philippines, 299,000 from India, 232,000 each from Vietnam and China); more than 40 per cent of individuals stuck in the family visa backlog or approximately 1.5 million people are from Asia, it noted.
If elected, Harris will immediately reinstate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programme and expand DACA by eliminating the requirement that DREAMers apply before they turn 31 years old, raising the age at the time of entry from 15 years old and under to 17 years old and under.
In August this year, President Trump administration had announced new rules that aim to deny permanent residency and citizenship to migrants who receive food stamps, Medicaid and other public welfare.
The new rules threatened to set back the citizenship hopes of millions of mostly Hispanic migrants who work for low wages and depend in part on public services to get by.
The White House had also said that half of all non-citizen households include at least one person using Medicaid, the government-run health program.
However, the plan has been slammed by immigrant and advocacy groups saying that it would undermine democracy and penalize parents for seeking help to feed their children.
Andrew Selee, president of the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute (MPI) had said that the policies toward immigrants will have an impact on the future of the US economy.
(With inputs from PTI)