The Donald Trump administration's plans to change several immigration laws may have sent jitters among many foreign workers in the US. However, Trump's proposal to implement a "merit-based" immigration system has been lauded by these workers and several Indians spoke up in support of this plan over the weekend.
Over 800 Indian-Americans, who are highly-skilled workers struggling with the long wait for a Green Card, participated in a rally in front of the White House on the weekend and appreciated Trump's efforts to bring in parity when it comes to the immigration rules. During the rally, they also demanded that country quotas for Green Card approvals be scrapped.
Hundreds of Indian-American travelled to Washington DC from places as far as California, Texas, Chicago, Florida, New York and Massachusetts, and urged Trump to discontinue the country quota system.
"We are looking strictly for a merit-based immigration. That will bring prosperity and fast economic growth of the US," the Press Trust of India quoted Krishna Bansal, national policy and political director of Republican Hindu Coalition, as saying at the rally.
"We are with President Trump for taking initiative towards a merit-based immigration system," he added.
Each year the US grants 9,800 Green Cards to individual countries while the number of applicants goes up by about 50,000 every year. But the participants of the rally believe that if this norm is scrapped, the situation may be favourable to them.
"Thirty percent of the country's skilled immigrants come from India, but they have to wait several decades before being eligible for Green Cards. These are people who are already here, contributing to the economy, paying their taxes and raising their families," Bansal explained, according to the Hindu.
Several other people echoed Bansal's thoughts. Krishna Mullakuri, another participant, whose application for Green Card has been pending for five years, said that a merit-based immigration system would be a win-win situation for the US as well as India.
Meanwhile, it is not just H-1B workers that have been waiting for the Green Card backlogs to be cleared. The issue is said to be haunting even high school students. Akshita Ramesh, 13, a student of Ronald Regan Middle School in Virginia, explained that her family is still awaiting a Green Card even though she moved to the US when she was one-and-half years old.
She explained that colleges are often sceptical when it comes to giving admissions to immigrants, no matter how great their grades are. "I didn't t know that being on an H4 could mean that it will be much harder for colleges to accept me, no matter how good my grades are," she explained.
Ramesh also explained that it is unfair that she is considered an immigrant in a country she has spent her life in and has to wait years to get a residency permit. "And all of this just because I was born in a different country that I barely even lived in? It sounds scary when I think the day I would turn 21, I would be made to feel a bit like an outcast, or a misfit in the country that I grew up in," she noted.
This was one of the few pro-Trump rallies since he became the president and slogans such as "Trump loves Hindus," "Trump loves India," "Trump bringing Ram Rajya," and "Indians love Trump" were seen on banners.