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Green card battle continues for Indo-Americans

Indo-American Green Card Protest
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US capitol witnessed about 20,000 immigrants currently serving as frontline healthcare workers, protesting at Capitol Hill against the long wait for Green card. The Indian-American frontline healthcare workers since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic have been putting their lives in danger to save American lives. Now some of these front line workers from India are in Washington, DC, calling attention to their plight. Some are going to protest multiple times during the week.

According to an April 2020 US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) report, Indian nationals are said to be the worst sufferers of the current immigration system as they make up about 68 per cent or 800,000 of over 1.2 million people stuck in green card backlog. Most of these are people are who travelled to the US on an H-1B visa and have since applied for a change in status. Because of the large numbers and country quotas, the wait times for Indians is expected to extend significantly.

 Abby Finkenauer had introduced a Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act for recapturing green cards that were approved by Congress but unused in past years, allowing thousands of medical professionals to serve permanently in the US. But the bill failed to become legislation. While the Indian-Americans contribution during the ongoing crisis has been phenomenal, many doctors, scientists and tech workers agree that the country remains oblivious of the fact that thousands of these hardworking professionals are patiently waiting for their green cards. The wait is especially long for Indian nationals, for whom it could take many decades.

The pandemic has been brutal for many of the frontline workers and their families who lost their lives. They believe that the fact that they have no right to participate in any kind of democratic process, despite contributing to the country’s healthcare and economy, is humiliating and the world should know how they have been shortchanged into a life of perpetual indentured servitude.

Because of US law, which puts a 7 per cent cap per country for employment-based green cards many Indian doctors are stuck in a green card backlog. While India is a land of more than 1.3 billion people, the number of green cards Indian nationals get is the same as a country as small as Iceland, which has a population of 3,65,000.

Watch: Indian American protest outside US Capitol

Healthcare workers are now highlighting the treatment meted out to them, contrasting it with nationals of other countries in their profession. Immigrant healthcare workers from other countries who start working at the same time get their green cards within months, or in a year but the high skilled Indian immigrants currently have an estimated wait time of several decades. The discrepancy in the number of H-1B hired from India and the small number of green cards allotted to Indians creates a bottleneck and leads to an inhumane green card backlog.

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