WASHINGTON, D.C. — Every immigration reporter on Capitol Hill knows the disdain many in the Indian green card backlog have for Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Online immigrants from India mock Durbin as the “immigration champion” in tweets, emails, Telegram chats, and comic strips where the Democratic Whip is accused of ignoring their plight over and over and over again.
To this organized chorus of Indian immigrants, Durbin is not advocating for their causes. They even have a website alleging that Durbin is racist against immigrants from India.
They also have a bill on the Union calendar in the House of Representatives.
The Equal Access to Green Cards for Legal Employment Act of 2022 or Eagle Act is an obscure bill, strangely bipartisan in the House with a low-key advocacy organization, Immigration Voice, that was on Capitol Hill this week for meetings with staffers for Republican Senators Josh Hawley (MO), Mike Lee (UT), and Tom Cotton (AR), plus the Senate offices of Democratic Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) and Tina Smith (MN).
Advocates said they were well-received in all of their meetings, with top marks given to Hawley’s staff on Monday.
“Senator Hawley’s office was our best meeting of the day,” said an advocate over coffee in the House Longworth Cafeteria.
Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA) got high praises from the advocates on Tuesday at the same coffee spot.
“It seemed like they really understood the issue and the bill,” another Immigration Voice advocate said.
The bill is more obscure in the Senate, according to one of Immigration Voice’s top lieutenants who revealed the following with Latino Rebels: “Name one Republican Senator who opposes the Eagle Act, but don’t call it the Eagle Act because they won’t know what you’re talking about. Instead, call it the ‘Mike Lee’s per country immigration bill’. The senators will know what you’re talking about if you call it that.”
Durbin seemed unaware of the Eagle Act in March when Latino Rebels asked him in a hallway interview. Latino Rebels asked again on Monday, this time attributing it to Senator Lee. As predicted, Durbin knew right away the bill in question.
“To help the people from India at the expense of everyone else is their solution,” Durbin said. “You can imagine everyone else has a different opinion so we’re trying to find some middle ground. The clear solution is more green cards so they don’t have to wait 25 years.”
Republican orthodoxy is to oppose any new green cards until the U.S. border with Mexico is “secure”—a political term with moving goal posts and endless appropriations from the public purse to the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies.
The decades-long wait times for green cards Durbin refers to are particularly long for immigrants due to per-country caps that limit how many green cards can go to family-and work-based visa holders from a given country. The Eagle Act eliminates the employment-based cap altogether while increasing the family-based cap from 7 to 15 percent.
The Eagle Act does not create any additional green cards. It reshuffles existing allotments. Green cards are the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel—permanent permission to remain in the United States untethered from any family or employment-based sponsorship.
Roughly 75% of temporary H1-B visas currently go to immigrants from India, which means Indians have the longest green card queue, a backlog that can’t be cleared due to the per-country cap. Several H1-B immigrants were among the nearly 60 Immigration Voice advocates who met Monday night at Jyoti, an Indian restaurant in Adams Morgan for a dinner buffet. Loads of immigrant optimism were shared over an open bar at the off-the-record dinner which was attended by the organization’s president, Aman Kapoor of Virginia.
The following day Immigration Voice was back on the Hill early, soldiering through a timeline of meetings with lawmakers and their staffers.
“Cotton really went to bat for us,” an Immigration Voice member said at the Senate’s Dirksen Cafeteria. “He is one of the best Republican senators for our issue.”
The worst senator on the issue, according to this member?
“Durbin, of course,” the member said.
Meanwhile, the Eagle Act has 83 cosponsors in the House, including eight Republicans and Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal, an immigrant from Chennai, India.
Immigrant Voice members keep wondering if Durbin worked with Cotton on the right and Jayapal on the left to pass ultimately pass the Eagle Act in this Congress.
“[Durbin] needs to do something to be redeemable,” JM said in a Telegram chat frequented by backlog immigrants from India.
“In his long career, Senator Durbin has sabotaged more immigration bills than the bills he has helped pass. He has not been able to make any impact whatsoever on immigration, and I am very eager to see him achieve literally anything for any group,” said Akshar Prabha Desai, another member of the chat.
Pablo Manríquez is the Washington correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports
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maybe durbin just feels, like most people i know, that we arent responsible for indians. india is.
Indian immigration has to be curtailed. They flood the system because they, India, has a mafia like grip on H1B, a program that frankly should be ended so minorities can progress.
I personally know Indian-Americans who fight against H1B program. In the last ten years alone 1million Indians have taken advantage of the H1B program as a backdoor to stay in the US. And I also know many Latinos and Blacks who have lost their jobs due to H1B.
India is overpopulated and has no pop. growth program. So their quota should be the smallest possible. Also, most H1B are well to do Indians who can find work in India, but the amount of money sent back to India from the US is so large, that it has produced a really rich and powerful lobbying group for their wants. No wonder you see so many Indian politicians rising to prominence in the US. All financed by the rich Indian cartel.
American minorities must fight that or you can kiss any chance to go up in some industries goodbye.
Since the avalanche of H1B visas, training budgets and hiring of entry level Americans came to a halt.
I think it makes sense to put country cap on H1B as well
[…] The Eagle Act does not create any new green cards, a distinction advocates hope is not lost on Capitol lawmakers in the upcoming lame duck session. Instead, the bill eliminates the employment-based cap altogether and increases the family-based cap from 7 to 15 percent. Immigration Voice is an advocacy group at the forefront of pushing Congress to pass the Eagle Act. […]
Us is not responsible for Indians, why US is responsible for other nations, Iran is responsible for iranians, stop giving them green cards .. no entry for europe too .. either stop immigration from everywhere or treat all of them equally. Or stop taxing indians and make profit out of indians … Why single out one community and discriminate..
The company sponsor indians.. your fat ass is not responsible for anyone anyway.. ask US companies to only get ppl from US..