Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Indian tech professional Srinivas Kuchibhotla, speaks at the rally.
Cold weather may have come knocking for Chicagoans a little early this year, but the wind and the chill did not deter hundreds of Indian nationals who gathered in the city for a community rally to protest against Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s decision to block a Senate bill that would remove country quota in allocating Green Cards.
Hundreds of Indians stuck in a green card backlog attended the rally on November 3, in front of O’Donovan’s restaurant in Northern Chicago where Durbin hosted a fundraiser. Many had brought along their school- and college-going children for the march titled, “Stand for Equality.” The participants held banners and placards urging Durbin to reconsider his block on S.386, or the “Fairness for Immigrants Act 2019.”
Tens of thousands of Indian nationals have been building up the momentum to raise awareness about the Green Card backlog that specifically affects them.
Nita Kumar, a Chicagoan who attended the protest, said that she made it a point to participate in the protest because, as a community, “we wanted to send a message” Durbin that “we are not going anywhere, we want to be heard and we want people to know that there is a lot of angst and frustration in the community.” She added, “We are not asking for any additional Green Cards. All we are saying is that that employment based Green Cards should be merit-based and not based on country of origin.”
Despite the cold, the crowd remained at the venue for two hours with flags and banners. Children shouted slogans such as, “Treat us equal, not separate; Pass 386; We love Illinois and We love USA.”
Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Indian tech professional Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was shot dead by a white nationalist in Kansas two years ago, addressed the gathering. She has been actively campaigning for fair immigration policies in the US since her husband’s tragic killing.
Sahil Singh, one of the attendees, said it was Dumala’s efforts that served as an inspiration. “It was so powerful to see her rise above her personal tragedy and be there for everyone going through immigration crisis,” he said.
Nita Kumar agreed. “When you see someone overcome personal loss and still have the courage to stand with everyone else to help them, you know it’s not your cause alone,” she said. “We all know, when Dumala suffered such a massive loss, she also had to deal with the legalities of immigration during her period of bereavement.”
Aman Kapoor, a representative of Immigration Voice, a nonprofit helping high-skilled future Americans, said events such as these are important. “There are so many misconceptions and ignorance about S.386 that we need to come out and tell the world that all we are demanding is equality.”
He added: “Consider this: An unborn child, from a country like Paraguay or Uruguay, can get a Green Card sooner, if he were to apply than an Indian high-skilled professional who is currently in line for Green Card.”
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