US President Barack Obama on Friday bypassed the Congress to announce the most sweeping reform to fix America’s “broken” immigration system to protect five million illegal workers from deportation.
The move could also benefit thousands of Indian techies seeking the Green Card.
The executive action, said to be one of the largest measures by a US President on immigration, is expected to help a significant number of Indian techies who currently have to undergo the painful and agonising process of H-1B visas to get legal permanent status (LPR), popularly known as Green Card. Under the current system, employees with approved LPR applications often wait years for their visa.
The move would also allow spouses of some H-1B visa holders to get work permits.
“Today our immigration system is broken and everybody knows it,” Obama said. “It’s been this way for decades and for decades we haven’t done much about it.”
He rejected accusations by conservatives that he was offering a free pass to undocumented immigrants, and warned in a prime-time address that he would bolster border security and make it harder for unauthorised outsiders to get into the country.
Obama described his unilateral action as a “common-sense, middle-ground approach” that would allow otherwise law-abiding immigrants to “come out of the shadows and get right with the law”.
He said a mass deportation of the nation’s 11-million-plus undocumented immigrants “would be both impossible and contrary to our character”. According to some estimates, there are 4.5 million illegal Indian immigrants in the US.
The plan would let parents of US citizens and legal permanent residents remain in the country temporarily, and would apply to those who have been in the US for the past five years. The move provides portable work authorisation for high-skilled workers awaiting LPR status and their spouses.