Around the world, America is known for a simple promise: no matter who you are or where you come from, you are welcome here. Impact works to help our nation live up to that promise for South Asians and immigrants from all over the world. We must live in a country with equal opportunity, where all immigrants are treated with dignity and respect, and given a fair pathway to citizenship.
Indian Americans are the second-largest group of immigrants entering the United States — but for too long, we’ve been held back by a broken immigration system that prevents too many of us from reuniting with our families overseas and realizing that fundamental American promise.
Right now, 1.2 million people are waiting for their Green Card interviews because of a cap system established more than 30 years ago by the U.S. government, and that queue is expected to double by 2030. A majority of those 1.2 million are Indian immigrants, often friends, family members, and neighbors of Indian Americans already here, suspended in limbo and separated from their communities while time moves on. But a law established decades ago limits any single country from making up more than 7% of the Green Cards issued in any given year. That outdated statute disproportionately harms Indians, and means that at this rate, more than 200,000 will die before they receive their green cards.
That’s not only an injustice to those whose lives are thrown into chaos, it’s also a setback for the U.S., which badly needs their labor. Even worse, that backlog means more than 200,000 young Dreamers here in the U.S. today who are dependents of long-term visa holders will age out of those visas when they turn 21. These Dreamers, mostly Indian, on average arrived in the U.S. when they were 5 — but risk self-deportation after waiting 16 years for the security of a Green Card.
There’s no reason why the U.S. needs to exclude young people already in America, suspend the lives of hundreds of thousands of Indians in limbo, and make a point of denying security and citizenship to our communities. Additionally, upwards of 630,000 undocumented Indians may reside in the United States and have no clear path to citizenship.
The answers are straightforward: we need legislation to ensure immigrants are truly welcomed in the United States. The H-1B visa program, which has brought so many Indian physicians, engineers, and academics to the U.S., will of course be a part of that solution. But successful reforms must also welcome essential workers, store clerks, hospitality workers, and so many more.
We need the U.S. Congress to:
- Establish a pathway to citizenship for all Dreamers by passing the Dream and Promise Act
- Bring security to all Dreamers by passing the America’s CHILDREN Act
- Abolish discriminatory per-country caps for permanent residency in the United States by passing the EAGLE Act
- Amend our immigration laws to increase the number of family and employment-based green cards issued each year.
In coalition with our brothers and sisters in the movement for immigrant justice, we believe we can and must build a humane and fair immigration system that recognizes the fundamental dignity and humanity in all of us. Because we believe no matter who you are or where you come from, you must be welcome in America.