Pramila Jayapal and Shri Thanedar among co-sponsors of bill creating roadmap to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants
A group of 100 Democrats, including two Indian American lawmakers have introduced a new bill seeking to eliminate the country-quota for green cards and reform the H-1B visa program coveted by Indian professionals.
The US Citizenship Act 2023 introduced by Congresswoman Linda Sanchez also creates an earned roadmap to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, TPS holders, and some farmworkers with an immediate path to citizenship.
It also provides all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes with a five-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation.
Indian American lawmakers Pramila Jayapal and Shri Thanedar and are among 100 members of the House of Representatives who have co-sponsored the bill.
“As the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, I am honored to introduce the US Citizenship Act today… a bold, transformative framework that will finally fix our broken immigration system,” Sanchez said in a statement.
“The US Citizenship Act will help us grow our economy, make our borders safer and more secure, and deliver a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants already living and working here,” she added.
Nearly 4 million people in the US with approved family-sponsored petitions are waiting for an immigrant visa to become available, and an estimated 4.4 million American citizen children have at least one parent who is undocumented.
According to Sanchez the measure grows the â€œeconomy by making changes to the employment-based immigration system, eliminating per-country caps.â€œ
It also makes it â€œeasier for STEM advanced degree holders from US universities to stay, improving access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, giving dependents of H-1B holders work authorization, and preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system.â€
The bill reforms the family-based immigration system to keep families together by recapturing visas from previous years to clear backlogs, including spouses and children of green card holders as immediate family members, and increasing per-country caps for family-based immigration.
It also eliminates discrimination facing LGBTQ+ families, provides protections for orphans, widows and children, and allows immigrants with approved family-sponsorship petitions to join family in the US on a temporary basis while they wait for green cards to become available.
The bill also creates a pilot program to stimulate regional economic development and incentivizes higher wages for non-immigrant, high-skilled visas to prevent unfair competition with American workers.
It bill recaptures unused family-sponsored visas since FY 1992 and exempts from the numerical limitations — spouses, permanent partners, and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents; derivative spouses and children of principal applicants; and individuals who have been waiting to be reunited with their families for more than 10 years.
The bill also alleviates lengthy wait times for individuals from higher-admission states by raising the per-country limits from 7% to 20%.
Foreign-born workers make up 17% of the workforce and undocumented workers comprise approximately 4.4%. An estimated five million undocumented workers are serving in essential roles as front-line workers.
The bill expands current protections to ensure that the death of a sponsor does not prevent the immigrant from establishing eligibility for the relevant benefit and prevents the children of fiancees of US citizens from aging out of the visa application and green card processes.
Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries emphasized the role of immigrants in the making of America as he called for an immigration law overhaul.
“We do have a broken immigration system here in the United States of America, and it does require a thoughtful and comprehensive solution, an approach that is anchored in our values as a country based on two pillars.
“One, a nation anchored, of course, in the rule of law, but a nation of immigrants, people who come from all across the world to form the gorgeous mosaic that is America and the diversity in America that is and should continue to be the envy of the world,â€ Jeffries said.