Durbin Calls On Congress To Pass Legislation To Increase Number Of Green Cards Available, Eliminating The Backlog
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, today made a unanimous consent (UC) request to immediately pass his 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. Senator John Thune (R-SD) objected on behalf of Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).
Along with eliminating the family and employment green card backlog over five years, 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.
“In our broken immigration system, there are not nearly enough immigrant visas – known as green cards – available each year. As a result, many of the immigrants to this country are stuck in crippling backlogs for years, sometimes decades,” Durbin said. “I’m happy to sit down and discuss this issue with the senior Senator from Utah or any other Senator. If we work together in good faith, I believe we can reach an agreement – a bipartisan agreement on legislation that can pass both chambers and be signed into law.”
Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor are 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.
Today, 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.
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.
The bill is endorsed by national organizations representing the business, immigrant, and labor communities, including: American Immigration Lawyers Association; All of Us; American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA); Ancient Order of Hibernians; Asian Americans Advancing Justice’ Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)-USA; National Iranian American Council Action; New American Economy, National Education Association; South Asian Americans Leading Together; United Chinese Americans; United Macedonian Diaspora; and United We Dream.
Specifically, the RELIEF Act will:
- Eliminate the family and employment green card backlog over five years in the order in which applications were filed;
- 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;
- Lift country caps; and,
- Extend the “hold harmless” clause from H.R. 1044 that exempts immigrant visa petitions approved prior to enactment from the lifting of country caps to petitions approved for five years after enactment.
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