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Global Indians: With the US opening ‘flood gates’, migration may spike

Global Indians: With the US opening ‘flood gates’, migration may spike

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Virendra Pandit 

New Delhi: With the Joe Biden Administration virtually opening ‘flood gates’ migration to the United States from different countries, including India, is expected to rise manifold in the near future—and add more ‘color’ to the White-dominated population.

The US House of Representatives (Lower House of Parliament) has just passed two key bills that would ease getting American citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, some migrant farmworkers and children whose parents immigrated legally to the country, like those under the H-1B visa program, media reported.

The bills will now go to the Senate, which must pass before the President signs to make them law.

The number of Indian-Americans in the US is about 2 percent of the total population of 331 million, or nearly 7 million.  Besides, the US has nearly 500,000 ‘undocumented’ Indian immigrants, that is those who entered the country along with their parents.

Describing it as a critical first step in reforming America’s immigration system, President Joe Biden welcomed the passage of the fresh bill, the American Dream, and the Promise Act of 2021. The House passed it on Thursday by 228-197 votes.

It will provide relief to Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and Dreamers, young people who came here as children and know no other country, Biden said.

“I support this bill, and commend the House of Representatives for passing this important legislation,” Biden said in a statement.

Those known as ‘dreamers’ are basically undocumented immigrants who enter the country as children with parents. There are nearly 11 million undocumented immigrants from across the world, including over 500,000 from India, a policy document issued by the Biden campaign in November 2020, said.

Among others, the bill also provides relief for legal dreamers, the foreign-born children of many non-immigrant workers, including those on H-1B visas, who lose their legal status once they reach 21 years of age. It would allow many other promising young people to pursue their version of the American Dream.

The H-1B visa, the most sought after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows American companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations requiring theoretical or technical expertise. Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

“My administration looks forward to working together with Congress to do the right thing for Dreamers and TPS holders who contribute so much to our country, and to building a 21st-century immigration system that is grounded in dignity, safety, and fairness… to create a path to citizenship for the undocumented population in the United States”, Biden said.

The American Dream and Promise Act establishes a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and for certain individuals who either held or were eligible for TPS or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED).

The majority of these individuals have been in the United States for much of their lives, often with work authorization and temporary protection against deportation.

Five years after attaining full LPR status, individuals are then eligible to apply for citizenship, a path that is supported by nearly 75 percent of the American public, Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera said.

This legislation is protecting Dreamers, TPS, and DED recipients honor the truth that immigrants are the constant reinvigoration of our country, when they come here with their hopes and dreams and aspirations, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the original sponsor of the Dream Act said that “the legislative solution was long overdue for Dreamers who have devoted their lives to our country, undocumented migrant farmworkers doing backbreaking agricultural work during this pandemic to keep food on our tables.”

Undocumented immigrants are believed to be one of the largest groups among the immigrant essential workforce, making up 5.2 million essential workers, of which nearly one million are Dreamers, part of the 2019 American Dream and Promise Act, who entered the US as children.

The American Dream and Promise Act also provides relief for “legal dreamers,” the foreign-born children of many non-immigrant workers, including those on H-1B, who lose their legal status when they turn 21.

Another legislation, the Farm Workforce Modernisation Act, will allow unauthorized farmworkers to earn legal status in the US and update temporary agricultural worker programs to meet our economy’s needs. It will provide H-2A eligibility to employers having year-round labor needs, which is critical for dairy and livestock, it said.

According to New American Economy, more than 500,000 DACA-eligible immigrants are essential workers, including 62,000 in the healthcare industry alone.

Senator Dianne Feinstein said that since Obama created DACA in 2012 to temporarily protect Dreamers, more than 800,000 individuals have registered for the program. California is home to the most DACA recipients, more than one in four live in our state.

These young people didn’t break the law, many were brought here as babies or small children by their parents. They now go to school, work, and pay taxes here in the United States. They are US citizens in all but name, she said.

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