Whether you have heard it, read about it or lived through it, there is no question our immigration system is broken. As we discuss legal immigration through a variety of lenses, be it specific merits, country caps, or humanitarian immigration, the current system is just not meeting our nations needs for the 21stcentury. Congress needs to address this now.
This is why, in January of 2017, I threw my support behind H.R.392, the‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’. H.R.392 seeks to modernize current immigration law to better meet the needs of the nation’s industrial and technology sectors by eliminating the arbitrary 7% cap imposed on employment-based green cards allotted per nationality. For example, this means that someone who comes to our county from India, China, or Mexico, (countries from which the majority of the skilled labor work force comes) will be forced to wait decades longer for a green card than immigrants from other nations. This bill has already received the support of more than 322 bipartisan cosponsors, yet Congress has yet to act.
The majority of applicants for one of the five employment-based green card programs have been legally employed in the U.S. for many years under one of the 20 employer-sponsored visa programs, but if they determine they want to apply for permanent residency, they cannot obtain permanent legal resident status due to these archaic, per-country caps. Often, these Individuals possess advanced degrees from U.S. universities in specialized, niche fields. They have developed skills in science and technology fields that contribute to our economy, our innovation, and our future—in fact, this group is responsible for almost 50% of U.S. patents annually. In this day and age, it simply makes no sense to be asking what country a person is from when determining eligibility for a highly-skilled employment-based green card; rather we should be assessing our country’s needs, and how they can be best met (with humanitarian exceptions.)
As this Congress tackles immigration reform, it is important to recognize issues other than just those that grab all the headlines. The ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act’ is a critical element of the broader effort to ensure that we maintain America’s rich diversity and competitive advantage through immigration and sensible legislation. This bill promotes basic fairness in our merit-based immigration system, rewarding those who are waiting patiently, while having met all the requirements for entry into our country. This is why, I strongly support lifting the per-country cap and urge leadership in the House of Representatives to bring H.R.392 to the House Floor now.