Green card rally

Hundreds of Indian Americans gathered to support high-skilled immigrants who are stuck in the green card backlog during a rally in Seattle, Wash., Feb. 25. (GreenCard Reforms photo)

Over 500 skilled Indian American workers, along with their children, held a peaceful rally in Seattle, Wash., hoping to reform the green card process.

Should the lengthy process be reformed, the waiting period — some that have stretched decades — would end.

The rally was organized by a newly-formed organization, GreenCard Reforms.

Participants at the rally urged U.S. Rep. Adam Smith to request the support of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to bring the bill HR 392 to vote and solve the issue, according to reports.

The HR 392 bill seeks to speed up green-card processing by removing quotas on merit-based green cards.

And because its constituents can afford it, the bill sweetens the proposed deal by promising to put an extra $4 billion into the federal government's pocket, the reports added.

"Every third Congressman in the House of Representative supports this. Yet the bill is not coming for vote, it's high time the Congress, Senate and White House to work on this issue," Chitti Babu, co-founder of GCReforms who has also been waiting for his green card for several years, said at the events, reports said.

Many event goers, with their children, shared the stories of legal H-4 children and how they will lose their status at 21, the reports said (see earlier India-West story here).

Smith was among those who spoke at the event as well.

GC Reforms was founded by Indian Americans who come from a diverse background including physicians, nurses, entrepreneurs, educators, researchers and technology professionals.

It focuses on creating awareness about immigration challenges faced by Indian high-skilled workers, it explained on its website,

Additionally, it seeks to garner support across the nation on targeted legislation that resolves the green card backlog, it said.

"We believe that an immigration system that does not discriminate based on the country of birth will bring in and retain the best talent for American industry and society," the organization wrote. "This will help America excel globally as high skilled immigrants have support innovation, entrepreneurship and digital transformation," it added.

One of the diaspora leaders the group has tapped is Dr. Sampat Shivangi, national president of the Indian American Forum for Political Education — the oldest Indian American political group — and the legislative director of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, who has been named the organization’s president.

GC Reforms explained on its site that roughly 300,000 primary applicants from India are waiting for permanent residency in employment based categories and may die before they receive their green cards.

"These insane wait times can be crushing for individuals and their families, forcing people to live in uncertainty for many years," it wrote. "U.S. immigration puts an age-old 7 percent per country cap for immigrants, in specialty occupations, who are hired based on skills but are awarded green cards based on country of birth. This needs to be changed to make it fair."

The mission of the organization is to mobilize support for immigration policies which will make the American dream achievable for Indian origin specialty workers.

The organization has sparked interest from many others, from all party lines.

According to a press release from GCReforms, Shivangi said this is the most important issue for the Indian diaspora in the U.S., as it impacts many physicians, engineers, teachers, nurses and medical professionals.

GC Reforms board members Kiran Kumar Thota and Sudip Gorakshakar have said that the backlog needs to be addressed urgently for the highskilled STEM graduates of Indian origin to fuel the United States’ economic growth.

Many prominent leaders spoke at the event, including state Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), former Bellevue Mayor and King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, and Bellevue Councilmember Conrad Lee, according to the Bellevue Reporter.

Among the signs people held at the rally were messages such as “Remove per country limits for employment based green cards,” “300,000 waiting for 90 years,” “What did I do wrong,” “Break the green card backlog,” “40,000 H4 kids will age out” and “Include employment based Immigration in the conversations.”

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