It is only human to feel pain when we witness the suffering of another human being. We write this message to plead to the humanity of Senator Durbin.
A simple online search will show the following stories of US immigrants (all from India). These stories have three things in common:
- This is a small sample of all who died just within the last year while waiting in the 100+ year green card backlog.
- Their bereaved family is in disarray and despair as they have not just lost a spouse or parent, but also their right to live and work in the USA as their home is uprooted and they have to self deport. The death of a backlogged parent forces American citizen children to also leave their homes.
- This would not have been the case had Senator Durbin allowed bill S.386 to pass to make the system equal and fair for all.
Please read these stories, because one day each of the 1.2 million tax-paying law-abiding Indian immigrants in the current employment-based green card backlog will have a similar story. No one can survive a backlog of 100+ years. This backlog is deliberately preserved by the direct actions of Senator Durbin, and it achieves only one outcome – the ongoing systematic ethnic cleansing of lawful Indian immigrants. Read these heart-wrenching stories, incontestable proof of how the backlog is proving to be a form of ongoing ethnic cleansing targeted at a particular community.
Rest in Peace …. our compatriots who died in the limbo of the backlog:
- February 29, 2020 – Anjanee Kumar Batchali
- February 21, 2020 – Eajaz Ali Mahaboob Basha
- February 21, 2020 – Abheesh
- February 20, 2020 – Gautam Wadhwa
- February 19, 2020 – Prashanth Kommireddy
- February 14, 2020 – Ananda
- January 3, 2020 – Balaji Murugavel
- January 2, 2020 – Yashwant Gawade
- January 1, 2020 – Latha Pendem
- December 31, 2019 – Arun Nethala
- December 14, 2019 – Koti Thondapi
- December 09, 2019 – Bhavesh Patel
- November 23, 2019 – Kalidass Rajarathinam
- November 12, 2019 – Prashanth Padal
- November 19, 2019 – Yogi
- November 6, 2019 – Kanthavel Ramachandran
- November 4, 2019 – Suresh Kadali
- October 30, 2019 – Shiva Chalapathi Raju
- October 13, 2019 – Niranjan
- June 7, 2019 – Mukesh Deshmukh
- April 13, 2019 – Prateek Sinha
- March 22, 2019 – Suresh Lingam
- March 9, 2019 – Shrinath
- February 10, 2019 – Srinivas Mukhyla
- January 18, 2019 – Sriram
It is evident that Senator Durbin’s prejudice towards Indian immigrants prevents him from sympathizing with these families. Instead, he continues to delay the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act. Hence, for us, these bereaved families are Durbin-widows and Durbin-Orphans.
In October 2019, Senator Durbin started negotiating with Senator Lee to change the Fairness for High-skilled Immigrants Act (S.386/H.R.1044) after putting his hold on the bill. It took considerable effort to bring Senator Durbin to the negotiation table. Senator Durbin demanded that he will only negotiate if all discussions and negotiations were held in secrecy. He demanded that no other Office or outside groups be kept in the loop about the negotiations unless the deal is final between Senator Durbin and Senator Lee.
As a principled and honorable man, Senator Lee kept his side of the bargain even though Durbin Office was leaking the contents of these negotiations to anti-immigrant groups, shady immigration lawyers, and Iranian groups, all of whom have made systematic efforts to derail S.386.
Not a single other Republican Office saw the contents of the Lee-Durbin compromise until it was finalized. Senator Lee made a deal in good faith, and at the end of the deal, Durbin agreed to work with other Senators if anyone needed changes to Durbin-Lee compromise language:
”SENATOR LEE AND I HAVE REACHED A BIPARTISAN AGREEMENT ON WHAT WE THINK IS A REASONABLE APPROACH AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE IT IS ACCEPTABLE TO OUR COLLEAGUES TO MOVE FORWARD.”
~ Quote from Senator Durbin’s speech on the Senate floor, video here
After the Durbin-Lee compromise was reached, other Senate Offices and DHS/USCIS (who will have to implement the law) were able to review the new compromise language. After careful review, other Senate Offices plus DHS/USCIS requested very minor edits to the compromise language – which is a fair ask. These edits still honor the spirit of the bill and the changes that Senators Lee and Durbin negotiated.
We believe that it is reasonable to accommodate these minor technical edits requested by the Senate Republicans and by the USCIS so the bill contains language that enables easy implementation.
Below are the three (3) specific changes requested in response to the Lee-Durbin compromise. As you will see, these changes are so minuscule that anyone who pretends that they can no longer support the bill due to these changes is simply looking for flimsy excuses to perpetuate discrimination based on national origin. (Please note: Immigration Voice did not request any of these changes; our primary goal is passing a law that ends discrimination.)
Change #1 “Do No Harm Clause”: The current language of the bill has included a “Do No Harm” clause, which existed prior to Senator Durbin’s negotiations. The agency said that this current “Do No Harm” language is too vague, and it will open up room for interpretation and unnecessary lawsuits. So, the agency provided the number of currently approved immigrant petitions (I-140) and asked that this number of green cards be added to the transition period in lieu of the “Do No Harm” clause.
So, the proposed change is to replace the current 3-year transition of 15%, 10% and 10% reserved green cards to 9-years transition of 30%, 25%, 20%, 15%, 10%, 10%, 5%, 5%, 5% reserved green cards for non-backlogged countries.
In essence, the “Do No Harm” provision was functionally recreated through a provision of the bill that dramatically expanded (more than doubling) the number of green cards reserved for the non-backlogged countries for the next 9 years.
Thus, the new proposed language achieves the same goal as the “Do No Harm”. How can any reasonable person be opposed to this change?
Change #2 “Early Filing” Wait Times: Durbin-Lee compromise has a provision called “Early-Filing” of applications for Adjustment of Status for immigrants with approved immigrant/green card petitions. But the issue is that the agency is not currently equipped to receive and process hundreds and thousands of Adjustment of Status applications. Therefore, to hire the resources, background check, and train adjudicators, the agency requested to have an opportunity to prepare for thousands of Adjustment of Status applications of the current immigrants, and, to space out the flow of applications. That is why the agency requested that the Early Filing provision would not begin for 1 year after the bill passes. In addition, individuals would be required to wait 2 years before qualifying for Early Filing of Adjustment of Status petitions, to prevent everyone from applying at the same time and creating bottlenecks or resource constraints.
Again, this is a million times better than the status quo, even though none of the changes help the current backlogged individuals. The “Early Filing” track is in parallel to the current system in which immigrants with approved immigrant petition can file Adjustment of Status when the priority date is current. But as always, Senator Durbin is fully capable of potentially holding up the bill over this, even though the “Early-Filing” provision with 1 year in implementation and 2 year wait time to file Adjustment of Status – is a million times better than the current system.
Change #3 50/50 Ban effective date in 3 years: The Durbin-Lee compromise included a provision called 50/50 ban. It means any company with more than 50 employees can no-longer have more than 50% of their employees on H1 visa or L1 visa. Immigration Voice wholeheartedly supports this provision.
However, currently, the H1 visa dependent companies pay an additional $4,000 for each H1 visa petition. This money is allocated towards funding DHS programs including entry/exit biometrics as well as funding healthcare for 9/11 first-responders. That is why there is a concern about the effects of a 50/50 ban on the agency budget and workload if the 50/50 ban was implemented immediately.
Therefore, the USCIS proposed that the implementation of the 50/50 ban will be phased over 3 years to coincide with commitments made for fee revenue from these visas to fund DHS programs including entry/exit biometrics as well as funding healthcare for 9/11 first-responders.
Clearly, there are legitimate reasons for these proposed changes.
As evident, there are legitimate reasons for these three (3) proposed changes. And even with these proposed changes, the new system under this bill will be a million times better for each and every immigrant approved for an employment-based green card.
These changes are requested by a group of Senators and the agency (DHS/USCIS). We have heard that these Senators are receptive to any reasonable arguments why such changes should not be made and if there are alternative proposals to address these concerns.
However, as we have suspected and shared all along, Senator Durbin and his staff are insincere in these negotiations because their goal is to add a poison pill that the other side cannot agree to. With regards, to the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, Senator Durbin’s prejudice towards Indian immigrants is well recorded.
Given his history, we believe that Senator Durbin is looking for any little reason to walk away from the negotiations merely to blame the other side or specifically blame Senator Lee.
That is why we need all reasonable people to call Senator Durbin at (202) 224-2152 and ask him to –
- Keep negotiating to find a reasonable compromise.
- The Fairness of High-Skilled Immigrants Act has existed since 2011 in its current form. For the last 10 years, 100% of the Employment-Based green cards had per-country limits. At all rates, whatever transition was required must have already happened by now. Every bit of transition already took place and the only set of people “Harmed” is a million tax-paying law-abiding immigrants from India, who are dying in the backlogs. Tell Durbin Office that – anyone who stops negotiating will be held responsible for all the deaths of immigrants in the backlog and the self-deportation of their widows and children.
- If Senator Durbin is unwilling to accept or negotiate these changes with Senator Lee, we will see this as Senator Durbin trying to make excuses to kill the bill and he alone will be responsible for all the human tragedy occurring.
- And if Senator Durbin does not let this bill pass, then it will be the final proof that Senator Durbin is directly responsible for the systematic ongoing ethnic cleansing of Indian immigrants from the US.
When you call, you should also ask Senator Durbin that –
- Senator Durbin, why do you think that Indian immigrants should wait in the backlog for 100+ years to file Adjustment of Status, and then die in the backlog before filing Adjustment of Status. But somehow, other immigrants cannot wait two (2) years to file Adjustment of Status? Also, these two (2) years to file Adjustment of Status will be an equal wait time for all future immigrants in the employment-based category, including future Indian immigrants. Why are you against Indian immigrants being treated “Equally”?
- Only Indian immigrants are “irrevocably harmed” by the current system. As evident from each of the stories of the families (above), the “Harm” is already done. More than 50% of the backlog comprises women and children. The only real and sensible “Do No Harm” provision in this bill would be if Congress would add reparations for the wrong done by years of Per-country limits. But instead of helping the immigrants already “Harmed” by the current system, Senator Durbin continues to push for provisions to further harm Indian immigrants under the guise of “Do No Harm”. Senator Durbin makes a false claim that the “Do No Harm” provision has been eliminated, whereas the truth is that the vague “Do No Harm” language has been replaced with clear language that has the same intended outcome with a nine (9) year transition period for removing per-country limits with larger number and percentages of visas that are reserved for non-backlogged countries.
- This bill now takes away preferential treatment from some folks to make the system “Equal” for everyone. Taking away preferential treatment is not “Harm”, it is called “Equality”.
Senator Durbin, please stop this systematic discrimination NOW!