Millions Still Waiting for Green Cards

Passing the Senate’s immigration reform bill would clear the backlog of immigrants seeking to become legal residents of the United States and receive green cards. According to an opinion piece by The Washington Post’s Editorial Board, at least 4 million newcomers would receive “normal” legal immigration in a decade beginning in 2015 – a number that would take 25 years under today’s legislation. Communities throughout the country would see a surge in legal immigration, and this surge would also help national as well as local economies.

Because current annual limits for green cards cannot meet demand, there’s a backlog full of millions of potential immigrants that are waiting years. Some of those on the backlog include brothers and sisters and married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. The source stated that some of these individuals have been waiting for more than 20 years to receive a green card. Due to the time it takes to receive a card, some have lost interest in becoming American citizens while others have died waiting.

The bill will re-unite families who have been torn apart and also clear the exceptionally long backlog, the Editorial Board stated. Also included in the bill is an aim to avoid the creation of these backlogs in the future. The Senate wanted to create additional opportunities of highly qualified workers by establishing a merit-based system assigning points to those interested in obtaining a visa with advanced education and fluency in English. The bill will also award points for attributes that help to better America’s competitive edge in the global economy.

According to USA Today, there were more than 4.4 million people waiting to receive a green card on November 1, 2012. However, because the State Department doesn’t include immigrants already in the U.S. with a pending green card application, that number could be as high as 5.5 million.