Immigrants, lawmakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and other concerned members of the community gathered in San Jose, California, on September 8 for the Summit on High-Skilled Immigration. The event, organized by the national grassroots group Immigration Voice, highlighted the urgent need for Congress to reform America’s broken and discriminatory high-skilled, legal immigration system. Many participants urged Congress to pass H.R.3012, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, and eliminate discriminatory country caps for green cards.
“Our hope is that this Summit will provide the energy necessary to push H.R.3012 over the goal line,” said Aman Kapoor, Co-founder and President of Immigration Voice. “It’s useful for people impacted by the backlogs to get together to see that they are not alone and that Immigration Voice is working hard to find solutions. We started the group just over six years ago, and we now have members of Congress and administration officials participating in our events. It’s a real testament, I think, to the power of Immigration Voice’s grassroots members around the country.”
Among those who addressed the 2,000 Summit attendees were:
- U.S. Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Ranking Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
- Aman Kapoor, Co-founder and President of Immigration Voice
- Vivek Wadhwa, Vice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University
- Francis Cissna, Director, Immigration Policy, Department of Homeland Security Office of Policy
- Scott Corley, Executive Director, Compete America
Immigration Voice President Aman Kapoor welcomed Congresswoman Lofgren to the Summit and introduced her to the audience. Kapoor spoke about founding Immigration Voice and watching the organization grow to more than 90,000 members. He described the real human cost of being stuck in the green card backlog and the impact that immigration delays have on the U.S. economy. Kapoor stressed the importance of removing per country caps and passing the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. He also thanked Lofgren for her early and strong leadership on this important issue.
Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) addressed the audience and took questions from those in attendance and from Immigration Voice members who had submitted their inquiries via video. She spoke eloquently about the need for immigration reform, both for employment-based immigrants and others. She strongly supported the elimination of per-country caps and expressed her commitment to work for passage of H.R.3012 in the House of Representatives if the bill makes its way through the Senate.
United States Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) then addressed the crowd via a pre-recorded video statement. Chaffetz, the primary sponsor of H.R.3012, thanked Immigration Voice and the high-skilled community for its efforts and committed to continuing his work to pass the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
Following the remarks by Aman Kapoor, Representative Lofgren, and Representative Chaffetz, the audience viewed a documentary film produced for the event. The film, “The Lost Decade,” tells the story of the green card backlog and the work of Immigration Voice. It explains the importance of removing discriminatory country caps and details the legislative history of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act.
The documentary was followed by a panel discussion on high-skilled immigration that included Vivek Wadhwa, Francis Cissna of the Department of Homeland Security, Scott Corley of Compete America, Nick Maduros of Delta Policy Group, and Dr. Puneet Arora, a leading member of Immigration Voice. The panel engaged in a lively discussion about the way forward for immigration reform and the impact of green card backlogs on immigrant families and the U.S. economy.
Vivek Wadhwa addressed the broad bipartisan support for high-skilled immigration and said that he was encouraged by the strong support for high-skilled immigration among Republicans. He urged those attending the summit to get involved at the local level and to enlist the support of their American friends for the cause of high-skilled immigration. He also encouraged Immigration Voice to address the issue of start-up visas once the per-country cap legislation is completed.
Francis Cissna of the Department of Homeland Security reaffirmed the Administration’s support for the removal of per-country caps. He thanked Immigration Voice for working constructively with the Department and encouraged the group to continue working with DHS on possible administrative measures to alleviate the impact of the green card backlogs.
Scott Corley of Compete America, a coalition of businesses that rely on high-skilled immigrants, commented on how important employment-based immigrants are to their employers and to the U.S. economy. Maduros, meanwhile, discussed the personal hardships faced by immigrants stuck in the green card backlogs.
Find out more about Immigration Voice, the green card backlog, and the September 8 events at http://www.immigrationvoice.org.
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Immigration Voice is a national grass-roots organization of legal, high-skilled immigrants living in the United States. The group has 90,000 members across the country and represents the interests of the nearly one million skilled immigrants and their family members caught in the existing green card backlogs.