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IV Article in Diversity Inc
The article is members only so I am pasting the text here
The Forgotten Immigrants: Highly Skilled Workers
By Carmen Cusido
© 2006 DiversityInc.com®
May 13, 2006
Talk about the immigration debate and one pictures undocumented immigrants working in the fields, in restaurants and in hotels. But there are other immigrants deeply affected by the national debate-highly skilled foreign workers who came with their H-1B visas and hoping to obtain citizenship.
These highly skilled workers are computer programmers, nurses, doctors and college professors who have been waiting for their green cards. And while they wait, their "lives are in limbo," says Aman Kapoor, a computer programmer who started the nonprofit Immigration Voice last December. It now boasts more than 3,000 members across the country. While most of the members took action individually, it was not an organized effort until December.
"Immigration Voice is committed to feasible solutions to fix the immigration system, which is currently broken," Kapoor told DiversityInc. He arrived in the United States with an H1B visa in 1997, and in 2002, his employer sponsored him for a green card. He's been waiting since then for his green card. The usual wait is six to 12 years to process a green card, and during that time, highly skilled foreign workers "cannot get promotions, buy homes, or change jobs. In some states, people cannot get their driver's licenses," Kapoor says.
But unlike many undocumented immigrants who protested, rallied and marched, Kapoor and members of Immigration Voice have taken to lobbying Congress, which in December nixed a budget amendment that would have allowed those "waiting in line for a green card to proceed even if the quota [of highly-skilled workers] had been exhausted," according to a recent article in The Washington Post. Currently, the group is working with Quinn Gillespie & Associates, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm. Immigration Voice members opted for lobbying because most are afraid of retribution. Kapoor says, "We had to work with the government, not work against the government."
"The changes we're proposing will increase American competitiveness and innovation," says Kapoor, and they hope these changes will help legal immigrants "who have played by the rules, and [are] penalized for playing by the rules."
Some of his colleagues already have left the United States, frustrated because they're been waiting many years for a green card. One expressed his frustration in an e-mail to Kapoor, which read: "The American immigration system effectively amounts to trial. It's got all the attributes - lawyers, judges, detention centers, etc -with one exception: the defendant is guilty until proven innocent. As long this system exists, there will be enough vested interest (immigration lawyers, corrupt BCIS officials, to name a few) to keep the status quo."
The April issue <http://www.diversityinc.com/public/3940.cfm> of DiversityInc magazine reports in depth about the cost and value of immigration. DiversityInc journalists traveled to Iowa and Tennessee to write about how immigration is shaping those two states. We found that highly skilled workers are just as important to the economic future of these two states as low-skill immigrants.
"The pipeline for international engineering students is deep at Iowa State University," DiversityInc reported, and Nancy Knight, the director of diversity and graduate-student affairs for the College of Engineering, says international students in the college represent 51 percent in the graduate and Ph.D. programs.
NPR reports that businesses need highly skilled workers like Kapoor and suggests that "America may be in danger of losing its competitive edge."
In the same NPR broadcast, Jetender, a software consultant in Silicon Valley who did not want to reveal his last name or the name of the company he works for, says he came to the United States seven years ago in search of high technology and cutting- edge research. He was sponsored by his company four years ago but still is waiting for his green card, and therefore cannot change jobs or get a substantial promotion. "It is like clipping your wings, you can't fly," he says.
Progress on the issue
The issue is same but dynamics are changed. We came far ahead on the issue. Thanks to IV.
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