As you are already aware, a lot has happened in the last week. We believe it is important for you to know what has transpired so you can judge the situation for yourself. We have been advised by our lobbyists not to speak-up because we will be attracting the wrath of Senator Durbin. In addition, we have also been strongly advised by our General Counsel to not post this message.
We have been told that it is unwise to speak truth to power in Washington, D.C. We have been told that Democrats in the Senate are much more hierarchical and that other Senators are afraid to speak up or stand up to Senator Durbin. We are also told that Senator Durbin is vindictive and will come after immigrants and their families in the backlog. Strategically, we should stay quiet because that is what we have been strongly advised to do. But the pain of continually not having our humanity recognized by our employers, the government, and now even members of Congress who claim to care about immigrants’ rights is too much for us to bear.
That is why, after much deliberation, we have concluded that regardless of the consequences it is necessary for us to share this so everyone knows the truth. It is more relevant that we stay brave and speak the truth to power on this 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who taught us that there is nothing more powerful than the truth. We know that the goal of equality cannot be achieved by waiting for the aggressor to act in a reasonable manner. We are told that although there is no other hold from any other Democratic Senate Office, it is possible that Senator Durbin will force other Democratic Senators to find an excuse to put a hold on our bill in retaliation against us for telling the truth about what is happening in the background. It will be extremely unfortunate, but so be it. We are at a point where we are prepared for any consequence, even if it means that Senator Durbin will make sure that we are never treated as equals. Constituents gave Senator Durbin the power of his position so he could use it “for” the betterment of his constituents. Instead, he has used it to attack Indian immigrants who have done no harm to him or anyone else.
We are prepared to fight for our equality even if it takes 10,000 years. We will find other advocates/lobbyists and we will find another General Counsel if that is what it comes down to. Other Members of Congress might be scared of Durbin, but we are not. We will keep on fighting for our rights and we will keep on fighting for equality.
The truth is – the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act makes the system fair and equal for immigrants. Last Thursday, at his pre-staged “Constituent Coffee” event with non-constituent Iranians and Chinese, Senator Durbin attacked the Fairness bill calling it a bad bill. How is equality bad? Here is a first-hand account from an Indian-American woman, a constituent, who attended Senator Durbin’s “Constituent Coffee” event, which was supposed to be cordial instead of being nasty and hostile towards Indian immigrants.
Senator Durbin’s position on S.386 is exactly the same as the position of FAIR, which is designated as a hate group by the SPLC. Senator Durbin is pitting different immigrants against each other, but somehow, he wants everyone to view him as “pro-immigrant”. At one point during his charade at “Constituent Coffee” last Thursday, Senator Durbin spoke as if he doesn’t want immigrants to be pitted against each other. However, his entire “Constituent Coffee” event was designed to pit Iranian and Chinese immigrants against Indian immigrants. In that event, he pretended that Green Cards were given to countries and not to individuals.
The fact is that the current system is discriminatory and unfair towards over a million souls in the backlog, who face severe quality of life issues. Almost everyone in Congress has acknowledged that the current system is discriminatory. Senator Durbin’s argument against the bill is no different from the arguments presented by those against removing segregation and discrimination.
Senator Durbin’s argument runs counter to almost every civil rights reform in history. His argument sounds like the demand of a segregationist who might say – “We’ll allow people of color to ride the bus as long as you promise that White people will always have a seat”. Those opposed to desegregation also argued that “removing segregation will only help specific people of color and it will make other people wait longer for the seats at the restaurant”. Isn’t this exactly Senator Durbin’s argument against the bill S.386/H.R.1044? How is Senator Durbin’s argument different from those promoting segregation or systematic discrimination against a specific group of people or the erroneous idea of “separate but equal”?
Senator Durbin’s mere acknowledgment that the current system is “unfair” is not sufficient. He cannot share a universal belief in fairness and equal treatment under the law but also believe that the burden of a scarce resource should never be shared. Senator Durbin is using the pretext of increasing green cards to object to the Fairness bill. It is unfair for a representative to promise equality and fairness only when there are unlimited resources. Resources will always be scarce no matter what. The necessity for equality is predicated on the understanding that resources are not unlimited. Hence, the need for a system that promotes equal treatment for the available resources (in this case green-cards). That is fairness, that is justice, that is the origin! Senator Durbin can either be for equality, or against it. It can’t be both at the same time, interchangeable at his convenience.
Senator Durbin has told others in Congress that he wants to kill this bill by adding a poison pill. That is why he is pretending that he wants to add more green cards, which he knows cannot be added to this bill as it will kill this bill. The only reason he wants to kill this bill is that it will help Indian-Americans already residing in the United States by creating a system where all immigrants treated equally under the law regardless of the color of their skin or country of their birth.
Posterity will never forgive those who ask for a ransom for equality. At different times in the evolution of our society, those standing in the way of progress have always predicated their demand for unlimited resources (in this case more green-cards) as a precursor to equality and fairness. Now, Senator Durbin is saying, he will not allow the removal of per-country limits to create a more equal system unless a lot more green-cards are added to the system. Senator Durbin knows all too well that Congress cannot increase green cards. So, essentially, Senator is trying to kill the bill because he wants to hurt Indian immigrants stuck in green card backlog, including their children who came to this country with their parents, but are aging-out and are forced to self-deport. And all this because of a preconceived bias and prejudice that Senator Durbin holds against Indian immigrants.
How can anyone with a reasonable mind justify Senator Durbin’s position? Increase in green-cards, or not, the outcome of the current per-country limits system is discriminatory. 224 Democrats and 140 Republicans in the House already agree with this principle. And the proof is that 365 Representatives voted in favor of this bill in the House. Now, all 53 Republican Senators also agree with this principle, which is why there is no Hold on the bill by any Republican Senator. Additionally, fifteen (15) Democratic Senators are also Cosponsors of the bill and we are grateful for their support and leadership in removing per-country limits.
Based on Senator Durbin’s claims and portrayals of himself as a person who cares deeply about immigrants’ rights, it would be a reasonable expectation that the Senator would have emphatically supported S.386/H.R.1044, simply on the principle of equality and fairness. It will be an understatement to say we are shocked and extremely disappointed with the Senator’s position on this bill. If this bill doesn’t pass, we will make sure that our future generations know everything about Senator Durbin’s hatred towards tax-paying law-abiding backlogged immigrants.
The manner in which Senator Durbin targeted Indian immigrants at his “Constituent Coffee” event last week, deserves to be called out. Had this been discrimination against immigrants from any other groups, the community leaders and members from that group, alongside other concerned citizens would have called it out. So why are we not allowed to call out Senator Durbin? We are being asked to keep quiet when Senator Durbin’s Office puts out false information in talking points distributed to all other Democratic Senate Offices? We cannot call it out when we have emails from Senator Durbin’s staff literally asking groups who have never heard of this bill, who have nothing at stake from it, to oppose the bill? That is not how democracy works and we will not allow ourselves to be slandered in this way. Where is the outrage for Senator Durbin using his Office to attack immigrants from India?
The Iranian and Chinese students (who haven’t even yet applied for a green card, and are willfully showing a dual intent while on F1 visa, which is a violation of their student visa) with whom Senator Durbin organized his “Constituent Coffee” are online attacking Indian immigrants calling India a “shithole” country and they are openly asking to keep the “separate-but-equal” system claiming that immigrants from India are not equal. While his “Constituent Coffee” charade is on video for everyone to see him singling out and attacking Indian immigrants, we have known all along about Senator Durbin’s disdain for immigrants from India.
Here are a few relevant facts:
- For a long time, during backroom negotiations, Senator Durbin attacked Indian immigrants and our families. He systematically pushed for provisions that would exclude immigrants from India. He pushed to modify the language in ways that would make life more difficult for immigrants from India.
- During the Dream Act, Senator Durbin deliberately left out any measures to protect children of legal immigrants from aging-out because he knew all too well that these are mostly children of Indian immigrants stuck in the green card backlog. He personally pushed to exclude children of Indian immigrants from the Dream Act.
- He and his Office continue to push the stereotype that Indian immigrants are “low grade IT” workers, which is why Congress should not do anything to help immigrants from India. He doesn’t want to hear the truth that the current backlog is made up of hundreds of thousands of engineers, PhDs, research scientists, patent holders, professors and that over 15,000 Indian immigrants are doctors/physicians providing healthcare in underserved areas across the country. These immigrants also have families and kids who Senator Durbin wants to punish only because they were born in India.
- Senator Durbin had no problem in pushing for the Dream Act or DACA bill outside of a Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Immigration Voice supported the Dream Act and DACA. However, for the Fairness bill, which helps immigrants from India to be treated equally to all other immigrants from the world, Senator Durbin has no problem in demanding Comprehensive Immigration Reform as an excuse to kill this bill. But just ask Senator Durbin — what is the bill number for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), and he can’t tell you the bill number because the CIR bill does not even exist in the 116th Congress. So, this is one other way for him to attack immigrants from India.
- It will be disingenuous if someone promises you a big mansion in the Hamptons 20 years from now while you are dying of thirst and you need water today. Senator Durbin claims that he wants to give us more green cards, which he knows all too well cannot be added to this bill and it could take many years for Congress to reach an agreement on “more green-cards”. This is why he is simply trying to use this “more green-card” argument to kill the bill.
- Back in 2011, Senator Durbin was a cosponsor of the exact same bill because back then this bill also included E-3 visas for Ireland. The current bill S.386 doesn’t include E-3 visas for Ireland. It only helps people of color from India, and now Senator Durbin is opposed to the same bill which he cosponsored in 2011.
- To attack Indian immigrants and their spouses and children, Senator Durbin’s Office is putting out false information in the talking points distributed to all other Democratic Senate Offices. Senator Durbin’s staff is literally asking groups to oppose the bill. And these groups have never heard of the Fairness bill and they have nothing at stake with this bill. But to hurt Indian immigrants, Senator Durbin has instructed his staff to manufacture opposition to the Fairness bill.
The truth is this –
Senator Dick Durbin holds a deep prejudice and bias against Indian immigrants, their families, and children. And perhaps that is why he has two Indian staffers just so he can claim that “how can I hold prejudice, I have two Indian staffers”. It is the oldest trick in Congress. But we will remember this, we will tell our children and our grandchildren how Dick Durbin targeted Indian immigrants throughout his time in the Senate. You cannot hide behind DREAMERS and claim that you are a “pro-immigrant” when you systematically attack immigrant kids and their families from India. Posterity will never forgive you.
We will never forget!