Will Trump’s proposed immigration reform benefit Indians? What will be its impact on Green Card backlog?


“The proposed immigration reform is unlikely to ever become law,” says Attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford.

President Donald Trump once again brought to fore one of the most sensitive topics in contemporary America – immigration reforms. Last week, while announcing a broad, largely undetailed framework of an immigration plan, the president spoke about cutting back family-based immigration, and instead favoring a merit-based system. He also signaled that changes will be made to the green card system, introducing academic excellence, language proficiency and professional skills. While there remains a debate on whether such proposed changes can be implemented, the American Bazaar spoke to renowned attorney Rekha Sharma-Crawford its impact on Indians in the United States.

What would you say about the new merit and points-based immigration policy that the Trump administration is planning to introduce? Will it have any advantages for Indians?

The new proposed system, though unlikely to ever become law, is a departure from the current immigration system, which places greater emphasis on families. The devil is in the details, so it is hard to say what it will and will not do without seeing the specifics. But Indians generally tend to be well-educated and highly skilled. So if the plan were to reward these qualities, it is very likely that it would benefit Indians and high skilled individuals [from other nations]. That said, not all Indians would necessarily fit within these categories because there is still a strata of unskilled laborers which is currently present in the US as well. Finally, those Indians on DACA will not be included in Mr. Trumps proposed changes.

The “Build America” visa proposes to hike the quota for skilled workers from 12 to 57 percent. Some say that this move is likely to be advantageous for Indians. What would you say?

Again, I think there is merit to believing that Indians will see a benefit, but the exact nature remains unknown until we see the details.

What would you say about the impact of new policies on the Green Card backlog?

Changing course after millions have been waiting for many years raises a bit of a red flag. The administration has indicated that the new plan will take these backlogs into consideration under the new points system, but has not provided any details on how that would occur. I can see where someone who has waited for years is all of a sudden thrown out of contention because the points system places them lower than a new applicant. There are also other logistical issues relating to derivatives and age outs. It is easy to say we need a whole scale change, but without any details, there is no way to know what those changes will do and the greater impact they will have.

What will be the immediate fall back of this proposed policy?

Mr. Trump is without power to change the law. He must rely on Congress to act. Many on Capitol Hill have already indicated that they will not support this type of a change without a remedy for Dreamers, those on TPS and those who have been subject to family separation.  This plan is really no different from the one that Mr. Trump has proposed repeatedly and which has been rejected over and over because it fails to address significant issues. It is unlikely, in my opinion, that this announcement will move the ball forward in any meaningful way.


Threat of deportation is real for undocumented South Asians in US (April 17, 2019)

New US visa rules makes migrating to Canada more attractive for Indian professionals (April 5, 2019)

How Netra Chavan channeled her own frustrations to build an H4 and H-1B visa support system (February 14, 2019)

RHC’s H-1B rally demands elimination of Green Card backlog, protection for ‘DALCA’ children (February 10, 2019)

Trump talks about changes in H-1B Visa, including a possible citizenship (January 11, 2019)

Trump’s tweet on H-1B and path to citizenship evokes lukewarm response (January 12, 2019)

Waiting for the Wait to End: The human face of Indian immigrants caught in the Green Card backlog (December 4, 2018)

H-4 and H-1: Time for Indian immigrants to speak up on immigration policy, says author Amy Bhatt (January 5, 2019)

The unstable life of Indians on H-1B visa in the US due to visa renewal policy (October 28, 2016)

High-skilled Indian workers, DALCA kids, rally on Capitol Hill to clear green card backlog (June 15, 2018)

Reverse brain drain – the experience of three couples who moved back to India from the US (January 20, 2014)

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