While introducing S.2603, the Illinois Democrat says Sen. Mike Lee tried pass S.386 in a stealth manner, without any hearing or debate.
While Indian Green Card hopefuls from across the country have been calling, writing and pleading with Sen. Dick Durbin, who has blocked the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019” (S.386) in the Senate, to change his stance on the bill, the Illinois Democrat has come up with his own plan to end Green Card backlog.
On Wednesday, Durbin and two Democratic colleagues in the Senate, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, introduced a new bill that would eliminate the family- and employment-based Green Card.
Titled “RELIEF or Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families Act” (S.2603), the bill proposes to amend “the Immigration and Nationality Act to end the immigrant visa backlog” and increase the number of Green Cards.
Introducing S.2603, Durbin talked about his own immigrant roots — his mother immigrated from Lithuania in 1911 — and pointed out that immigration has been a contentious issue almost since the arrival of the May Flower.
The Illinois senator, who is the Democratic whip in the Senate, criticized Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) for trying to pass S.386 in the chamber without any debate. He said that Lee never conducted any hearing on the bill and negotiated several amendments with his Republican colleagues in private. “That is not how the Senate should work,” said Durbin, who has been blocking S.386 in the Senate.
S.386 is the companion bill of H.R. 1044, or the “Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act,” which was passed by the House in July.
H.R.1044 and S.386, both bipartisan bills, propose to lift the country quotas for Green Cards.
Indian immigration activists have been pressing Durbin to reverse his stand on S.386. On Friday, thousands of Indian nationals protested in downtown Chicago against the Green Card backlog and the impact that is having on their lives.
Some of the protesters followed Durbin at a Democratic Party event on Sunday morning in Chicago.
The senator mentioned in his speech that he was confronted by some 200 protesters, who were holding a placard with his name on it. He said: “I had a chance to talk to them, I didn’t run away from them, because I wanted to find out who they were, and why they were there. By and large they were people from India, currently living in the United States and wanted to become legal here and citizens here. Most of them came to the United States bringing special skills that were needed. Many of them were in the Silicon Valley hi tech industries.”
The senator highlighted the story of a physician from India, father of a 11-year-old daughter, who is stuck in the Green Card limbo, along with 520,000 others that are seeking permanent citizen status in the country.
Durbin criticized the Senate leadership for ignoring the immigration issue, pointing out that, last year, there was only one hearing in the Senate and no vote on the floor.
Reminding his colleagues that they are there to solve the problems the country is facing, he said: “Here is a problem we are not solving: How to deal with the backlog of people highly skilled and important people, like [a] doctor from my hometown of Springfield form India, who wants to have a Green Card, giving him an opportunity to become an American citizen. You know what? I want that doctor to become an American citizen. I want him to get a Green Card. We need him in my hometown, many more like him. I want his family with him.”
Watch Sen. Durbin’s speech on the floor:
Sen. David Perdue reverses stand on S. 386, but Sen. Dick Durbin blocks vote (September 26, 2019)
House passes Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, H.R. 1044 (July 10, 2019)
Threat of deportation is real for undocumented South Asians in US (April 17, 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)