Some see silver lining, others
ROBER T GALBRAI TH/REU TERS
still wary of the gray
Legal and illegal immigrants are closely watching how the
reform process unfolds, reports Ritu Jha
Back-to-backproposalsonimmigrationreformhave been some cause for optimism among workers with advanced skills as well as undocumented
First came the bipartisan Immigration Innovation (‘
I-squared’) Act of 2013, aimed at bringing long overdue
reforms to the nation’s immigration laws for high-skilled
The bill, currently in the United States Senate, proposes
to raise the cap on H1-B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 with
a possibility of raising it to 300,000 if there is sufficient
demand; removes the H1-B cap on those with master’s and
higher degrees from the US; allows H1-B visa holders’
dependent spouses to work; and greatly ups the number of
immigrant visas available to foreign workers. This is all a
result of President Barack Obama’s proposal seeking comprehensive immigration reform.
“Do not forget we got excited in 2007, too,” Bupendra
Ram, 26, an undocumented immigrant in Los Angeles,
told India Abroad. “So we have to make sure this time this
Ram came to the US with his parents from Fiji when he
was 2. He is studying for his master’s degree in speech com-
munication at California State University, Fullerton.
He has much to thank President Barack Obama’s
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for. It lets
those who came in before they were 16 and are students,
have graduated high school or are in the military, all without serious criminal records, to stay on for two years without being deported.
The DACA was passed by an executive order because of
the many versions of the Development, Relief, and
Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act, did not
make it through the legislative process.
The announcement of comprehensive immigration
reforms legislation is a relief for undocumented immigrants like Ram.
“I am waiting for my papers to get cleared,” Ram said.
“We have been waiting for long since 1986 and I think the
DREAMers have been able to push the momentum forward.” The pathway to citizenship for the undocumented,
he said, still does not look smooth.
“They are asking us to stand behind the line and already
we have been in this country for 23 years,” he said. “Our
family has paid taxes for years. I would need something
more humane — (a) clear and inclusive to pathway to citi-
Kalpana V Peddibhotla, an immigration lawyer in the
San Francisco Bay Area, said the Senate bill contains some
of the most comprehensive reforms ever proposed.
“I think it contains many features we have sorely needed
for many years,” Peddibhotla said. “Our current immigra-
tion system has harmed families, stifled our youth, and
undermined our global competitiveness.”
She added that Obama’s proposed reforms have many
commonsense features — from acknowledging that there
must have practical solutions for the current undocument-
ed population of over 11 million people living in the US, to
creating a path for students and young people who came
here as children and know the US to be their only home, to
helping families living under the strain of being separated
for years, to providing a means for businesses and employ-
ers to be more productive by being able to garner global tal-