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June 24, 2021

Memo: EAGLE Act (H.R. 3648) harms diversity and fails to fix backlog

Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s recently-introduced EAGLE Act (H.R. 3648) risks reducing the diversity of the green card process, pitting groups of immigrants against each other and would ultimately fail to fix the green card backlog.

National Iranian American Council Action continues to believe that any viable legislative fix for the backlog is one that makes more green cards available to clear it, like the Biden administration’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal in the U.S. Citizenship Act.

As the Congressional Research Service noted on last year’s version of the EAGLE Act (H.R. 1044/S. 386), ending the country caps alone “would not alter the growth of future backlogs compared to current law.” While Indian and Chinese nationals would face shorter wait times, the burden of the backlog would instead shift on to a diverse group of communities as the backlog continues to grow. The solution to the backlog is thus not merely shuffling the line, but raising the number of green cards available for the first time since 1990. A far better formulation is offered by the U.S. Citizenship Act, which would clear the backlog by recapturing unused visas, exempting certain groups from the caps and raising the number of employment-based green cards that are issued each year. 

A number of organizations representing diverse immigrant communities came together in the 116th Congress to warn against legislation that merely ends country caps without adding new green cards, and instead supported proposals like the RELIEF Act (S. 2603/H.R. 5327). As 24 organizations warned in October of last year, Congress should not “settle for a bill that would create new problems without solving the underlying challenge at hand of too few green cards available.”

NIAC Action continues to believe that it would be a major mistake to end country caps while ensuring that the backlog continues to grow, and instead urges legislators to find a sustainable, long-term solution based on the Biden administration’s comprehensive reform.

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