“Walk of Equality” was organized by the Illinois immigration Forum, with the support of several Indian groups from the Midwest.
Thousands of Indian nationals descended upon the City Hall in downtown Chicago to peacefully to protest the long Green Card backlog that they are subjected to the impact that is having on their lives.
The peaceful march, organized by the Illinois Immigration Forum, attracted people from different parts of the Midwest, who came to Chicago to make their voices heard and urge Illinois Senator Dick Durbin to support the Senate bill S.386 Bill, which would remove the country quota on Green Cards, which bars citizens of any one county receiving from more than 7 percent of the Green Cards issued in a year.
As a result of the quota tens of thousands of Indian nationals are forced to wait for years and decades.
The protesters who gathered in Chicago were professionals who had been contributing to the American economy and are often left with no choice but to put their lives on hold, given the extraordinary wait time for Indian nationals on their journey to obtain the Green Card.
The US House of Representatives passed the H.R. 1044 or the “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act,” in July, to eliminate the country quota. But S.386, its companion bill, has been stalled in the Senate.
Sen. Mike Lee, the main sponsor of S.386, has been trying to bring the bill to the Senate floor through a process called “unanimous consent.” But, while the “unanimous consent” allows Senate to pass a bill without subjecting it to the standard procedures, a single senator can block it.
S.386 was initially blocked by Sen. David Perdue. Later, when the Georgia Republican reversed his stand, it was blocked by Durbin.
Most Indian immigrant activists say the new bill will provide equal opportunities for all deserving candidates to obtain permanent residency and not penalize eligible candidates based on the country of their origin. However, its opponents argue that the new bill, if passed, would lead to most green cards being issued to Indians, thus destroying the diversity of the US immigrant pool.
The protesters arrived holding banners and signs that read “Senator Durbin help our children.” Many demonstrators also wore t-shirts saying: “Equality for all.”
Not surprisingly, the protesters were also met with a smaller group of demonstrators from “Support Alliance of US Immigrants,” who say that the bill would unfairly discriminate non-Indian immigrants.
But they were outnumbered by the Indian activists, who were flew and drove in from nearby Midwestern states, as well as from the East Coast to be a part of the Walk.
Venkat Reddy, who organized the walk and has been in the US for a decade, says that the current backlog unfairly puts Indians at a disadvantage.
Supporters of the bill also maintain that it is essential that the S.386 is passed so that deserving candidates gets their due.
“Merit-based, high skilled, H-1B community legally arrived in the US with their families,” says Netra Chavan, who manages the largest immigration group on Facebook. “They already underwent stringent personal and professional background checks. These families applied for Green Cards decades ago, and have been following the legal procedures. Now they are stuck for decades in the Green Card backlog line with approved Green Card status or I-140.”
Chavan says they fear losing the status while they wait for H-1B extensions. “Being stuck in this cycle is frustrating for these talented and highly experienced legal immigrants,” she says. “The reason for this backlog is that too many applications were accepted toward Green Card and only 7 percent of all applications are issued a Green Card every year from one country. In the current scenario, the Indian H-1B community feels as a major victim of this country quota discrimination. And that’s not the only thing, the community is also facing a lot of hate-crime under the current administration.”
Chavan adds, “We must not forget that these individuals are playing as crucial role in the US. Just being born in India or any other country with a high population should not be a stopcock for high skilled immigrants.”
The supporters at the Walk also voiced other concerns, including the status of children on H-4 dependent visas, who age out once they turn 21. They fear that during their long wait, thekids may lose their status and would have to leave the country they call home.
“The walk is a kind request to Sen. Dick Durbin to remove the hold from S.386,” Chavan says. “We request him to remove the hold and do not let this discrimination happen to so many law-abiding, peace-loving and merit-based immigrants.”
@SenatorDurbin Your constituents are walking for equality and we request you to stand with your constituents and help pass S386. Please be on the right side of history#seperateisnotequal #walkforequality #GreenCardEquality pic.twitter.com/rZXdgd5paT
— Srikanth Paladugu (@paladugu_sri) October 10, 2019
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