High-Skilled Immigrants Act Would Hurt Muslim Immigrants, Foreign Nationals from Smaller Countries

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Late last month, Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KA) convinced the House Appropriations Committee to include his legislation, the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (H.R. 392), into the 2018 Department of Homeland Security funding bill.

According to the National Iranian American Council, the amendment would eliminate per-country limits for employment-based  permanent residency and produce serious strains for individuals from smaller countries, especially Iranians and other nationals already subject to the Muslim travel ban. This means that certain nationals, including Iranians, will face dramatic increases in wait times to adjust their status, as larger countries would flood the system with additional applicants. Previously, the US State Department described country caps as ‘a barrier against monopolization.’

In reaction to the inclusion of the amendment in the Homeland Security Funding Bill, Jamal Abdi, President of NIAC Action, the political arm of the National Iranian American Council, issued the following statement:

“The pathway to citizenship must remain an opportunity that is shared equally by individuals of all nations – this is a fundamental pillar of our immigration system. However, this amendment, under the guise of fairness, could result in Iranian immigrants, and other foreign nationals from smaller countries, to be forced to wait years to see immediate family members or begin the process of earning US citizenship.

“The path to permanent residency and citizenship for talented men and women from underrepresented countries, especially smaller nations in the developing world, is fraught with difficulties. The per-country limits ensure that the aspirations of these individuals are not obscured and our naturalization pool remains diverse. Even a cursory examination of the State Department’s immigrant visa statistics reveals that without these limits, nationals from a handful of high-population countries will account for the vast majority of green cards.

“Congress should not rush through any legislation that significantly reduces or eliminates per-country limits for permanent residency without undertaking basic steps to ensure that Iranians and other nationals that have nearly been locked out of the visa system entirely by the Trump administration are not further disadvantaged by changes ostensibly designed to level the playing field

“Our elected lawmakers should seriously consider all ramifications of this legislation before labeling this an easy fix to a complex problem.”

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