When are those green cards, work permits coming?
By Sujeet Rajan
NEW YORK: In his beautifully structured, emotionally-laden speech, President Barack Obama addressed the anxiety of millions of legal immigrants for relief in their patient wait for Green Cards, work permits and visas with these two brief sentences, which surely seemed like garlands of hope, but didnâ€™t smell like flowers:
â€œSecond, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy, as so many business leaders have proposed.â€
‘Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?
What does Obama really have in mind, apart from stating the by now, obnoxiously obvious?
More importantly, are those sentences going to translate into a shower of Green Cards for legal immigrants who have waited in line for years and decades, played by every rule conceivable, but seen their hopes sink with every retrogression of priority dates?
Are Obamaâ€™s words going to finally translate into work permits for H4 visa holders, or are they going to have the grand humiliation of having to see illegal immigrants here for only five years get work permits ahead of them? Even more importantly, did those words he uttered really address the concerns of H4 visa holders at all?
Ok, it does seem, going by Obamaâ€™s words, as if more skilled workers are going to be allowed to seek jobs. But, how many more H-1B and L-1 visas are there annually in those two sentences by Obama, which he didnâ€™t expand on?
Are all graduate students on F-1 visas going to get some additional benefits? Or only those students studying in the STEM streams?
Dear readers, your guess is as good as mine.
Frankly, I donâ€™t know. It would be heaping more cruelty on legal immigrants waiting for permanent residency, work permits, by guessing what the president has in mind to implement by way of executive action.
One thing is for sure: the White House clarified in a press release that Obama’s entire program won’t go into effect for ‘several months.’
Add to that, the Republicansâ€™ vehement opposition to executive action on immigration reform; threats of defunding even the Department of Homeland Securityâ€™s department that issues work permits â€“ in order to thwart the issuing of work permits to likely five million illegal immigrants who might benefit from the executive action.
So, a paramount question: are even legal immigrants not going to get work permits if that happens?
Anyway, no point in delving into the realm of the unknown. At least for now.
One has to just wait. Hope for the best.
Perhaps, the smell of roses might waft in soon.
After all, spring is only a few months away.
(Sujeet Rajan is the Editor-in-Chief of The American Bazaar)