Dear Immigration Voice,

You describe yourselves as “a national non-profit organization working to alleviate the problems faced by legal high-skilled future Americans in the United States”.

Your organization is mostly composed of high-skilled immigrants from India, and your agenda is focused on easing high-skilled immigrants’ acquisition of permanent residency. We are writing to you because while we support your demands for an end to the extremely long delays in obtaining Green Cards, we are concerned that your proposed way of achieving this through H.R. 392, or the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act 2017 can only increase racism and harassment faced by people of colour, including Indians, in the US. Trump’s campaign promise of a border security wall is part of a strategy of whipping up racism and xenophobia which has already led to a number of racist murders – including even those of highly-skilled Indian immigrants, such as Srinivas Kuchibhotla. By supporting the building of the wall you will inevitably contribute to intensifying this climate.

According to the current system, no more than seven percent of all employment-based green cards issued in any one year can be given to citizens of one country. Large numbers of highly-skilled Indians working on H1-B visas are forced to wait unduly lengths of time to receive their right to remain in the U.S. The solution offered by the proposed legislation is simple: increase the number of green cards issued to immigrants from India, ask highly-skilled Indian H1-B holders to pay more for said green cards, and use the revenue raised to fund Trump’s border security wall. The ‘good’ immigrants are let in, the ‘bad’ ones are kept out, and US citizens don’t contribute a cent towards the process. As members of the Indian diasporas, we have watched with concern as many among us ally themselves time and time again with conservative anti-immigration factions. We see ourselves as the good immigrants, the model minority. We are distinguished by our work ethic and our shiny qualifications. We are collectively fixated on merit, which can solidify into a sense of entitlement. We believe that we deserve to migrate, to settle, to build comfortable lives, as we have worked hard to do so. But merit is a distraction, a convenient method of ignoring the innumerable injustices that block access to opportunity.

Discussions about Indian immigration, particularly to the U.S, are loud on those who constitute the model minority and mostly silent on those who are not. We remind you that there are members of our own communities who are undocumented, who are poor, who are voiceless and struggling. There are scores of people around the world who are not given any opportunity for safe and legal migration. We do not believe that these people are any less deserving of living secure and happy lives. They should not be deprived of those opportunities that the rest of us take for granted. You may be able to do taxes, heal wounds, and engineer marvels – but we are all immigrants. We are all people. We agree that the present state of affairs places an undue amount of pressure on migrant workers, and that this must change. H1-B visa holders should not be forced to wait an inordinate length of time for a chance at securing their status. But this change should not come at the expense of other immigrants, particularly not those less fortunate than yourselves. This is not the solution.

Vidya Ramachandran, Manju Patel-Nair, Shilpa Shah, Ayesha Mehta (from Desis Organise)

Rutuja Deshmukh (on behalf of SOAS India Society)

Amrit Wilson (on behalf of South Asia Solidarity Group)

Sonia Mehta (on behalf of South Asian Women’s Creative Collective)

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