What is the ‘RELIEF Act’ that Sen. Dick Durbin is proposing in place of S.386?

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The RELIEF Act (S.2603) has been endorsed by many immigrants’ rights groups.

On Wednesday, Sen. Durbin Durbin, who has blocked the “Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019” (S.386) in the Senate, introduced a new bill, S.2603, or “RELIEF or Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families Act.”

It proposes to amend the “Immigration and Nationality Act to end the immigrant visa backlog” and increase the number of green cards.

The bill, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, has two cosponsors: Vermont Sen. Patrick J. Leahy and Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, both Democrats.

Will S.2603 reduce the Green Card backlog for Indians in anyway? Would it benefit the high-skilled immigrants? To find answers to these questions, let us understand the legislation entitled as RELIEF Act.

What is the current green card limit?

Currently 226,000 family-based Green Cards and 140,000 employment-based green cards are issued annually. Durbin proposes to increase those numbers, saying that not enough Green Cards are made available each year. He said: “One of the most serious problems in our broken immigration system is that there are not nearly enough Green Cards available each year. As a result, immigrants are stuck in crippling backlogs for many years. The solution to this backlog is clear: increase the number of Green Cards. I’m proud to introduce this commonsense legislation to finally eliminate the family and employment Green Card backlog.”

Pointing out the imbalance in the demand and supply chain, he said, “America, at its core, is a nation of immigrants, but too often our outdated immigration laws close doors to those who would make enormous contributions to our communities and economy. The mismatch between the supply and demand for Green Cards has left millions of immigrant families in legal limbo, stuck in a years-long backlog waiting for the chance to contribute to our nation.”

How will the Relief Act help?

According to Durbin, Leahy and Hirono, the RELIEF Act would be instrumental in removing the family and employment-based Green Card backlog over a period of five years. The bill proposes to keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of lawful permanent residents as immediate relatives and protect aging out children, who will qualify for legal permanent resident status. It will also lift the country caps.

Who is supporting the bill?

The bill is endorsed by many national organizations that represent impacted communities, including South Asian Americans Leading Together; All of Us; American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA); Ancient Order of Hibernians; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)-USA; National Iranian American Council Action; United Chinese Americans; United Macedonian Diaspora; and United We Dream.

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