Law Could Sow Discord Among U.S. Immigrants

The proposed Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, while aiming to diminish some of the backlog in the system which gives immigrants permanent American green cards, may cause rifts within the U.S. immigrant population.

The bill’s critics have argued it may be promoting unfair employment options to non-permanent residents while U.S. citizens continue to look for work in the recession, according to the Washington Post. The act has also been attacked for favoring those immigration requests from workers originally residing in larger countries, such as India, over those hailing from smaller ones, like the Philippines.

Current laws only allow 140,000 green cards annually for those holding temporary work permits, and impose per-country quotas, which has greatly lengthened wait times for countries with large emigrating populations, like India.

Immigrants from smaller countries, however, believe that the new bill is unfair. The Post quoted an electrical engineer from Bangladesh who posted to an online message forum about the issue. The engineer wrote, “If this bill is passed, then thousands of people from India will get to cut in line in front of me and add three to four more years to my already ridiculous wait time.”

For some immigrants from India, however, many of whom already hold temporary teaching, government, and technology-related positions, wait times can stretch to more than 40 years, literally half a lifetime.

Southern Methodist University professor Caroline Brettell believes that one of the greatest travesties of U.S. immigration services are those immigrants who have spent nearly their whole lives in this country, but remain unable to attain higher education or permanent employment.

“Why shouldn’t smart immigrants, who might have come to the United States at six months, be able to go on to higher education? It would be economically productive and morally right,” Brettell said during the Centennial Academic Symposium in Dallas, according to the SMU Daily Campus.