Durbin Attempts To Pass Legislation To Protect Children Of Immigrant Workers In The Green Card Backlog
Republican Senator Mike Lee Objected To Durbin's Unanimous Consent Request Once Again
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, made a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass the Protect Children of Immigrant Workers Act, a simple provision to allow children to keep their place in line for a green card and be protected from deportation until they can get their own green card. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) objected. Lee also objected to this unanimous consent request earlier this week.
“I made a simple proposal to Senator Lee. While we continue to debate the best way to fix the green-card backlog, let’s make sure that no children of the affected families are harmed or deported. Just that simple. I offered a new bill, very simply stated – the Protect Children of Immigrant Workers Act. This brief three-page bill would ensure that children do not ‘age out’ while waiting for a green card,” Durbin said. “It would not increase the number of green cards. It would not provide any special benefits. It would simply allow children of immigrant workers to keep their place in line for a green card and be protected from deportation until they could get that card. Senator Lee said he had not had a chance to review it, so I wanted to return to the floor today. I believe it is timely and important and now he’s had a chance to look at it.”
Durbin concluded, “I have met many of these young people. It breaks my heart to hear their story that they may reach a point where they age out and be deported. That’s why I wanted to offer this specific, single provision. There is no reason they should be punished for a broken immigration system. It’s beyond their control, but it’s not beyond our control to help them.”
Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.
Last year, Durbin introduced the Resolving Extended Limbo for Immigrant Employees and Families (RELIEF) Act, which would eliminate the family and employment green card backlog by increasing the number of green cards. The RELIEF Act would also help keep American families together by classifying spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits, protect “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition, and lift country caps.
Durbin has also introduced bipartisan legislation to quickly address the plight of immigrant doctors and nurses who are stuck in the green-card backlog, which poses a significant risk to our ability to effectively respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Close to four million future Americans are on the State Department’s immigrant visa waiting list, in addition to hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. who are also waiting for green cards. However, under current law only 226,000 family green cards and 140,000 employment green cards are available annually. Children and spouses of LPRs count against these numbers, further restricting the number of available green cards.
In October 2019, Durbin, along with all Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats, called on Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, to hold a hearing on legislation to address green-card backlogs. The letter has gone unanswered.
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