Several immigrants, along with many Indian immigrants, protested on a countrywide “Day Without Immigrants”.
The demonstration developed in places such as New York and San Francisco, culminating in a big rally outside the White House, with the goal of increasing pressure on US President Joe Biden to prioritize the protection of immigrants and the implementation of reforms for them. Activists from other nations who have been resident in the United States urged the Biden administration to include a path to citizenship in the Build Back Better measure.
Several families drove to Washington, D.C., to fight for the change, while others chose not to go to work, take their children to school, or make any purchases on Monday. According to the organizers, the goal is to demonstrate the economic impact that the immigrant community would have if they did not spend money or offer labor.
The urge for reform arises as the United States has approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants and many documented immigrants. According to advocates, there is a lot of resentment directed at the Biden administration and Democratic congressional leaders for promising immigration improvements on the campaign trail but failing to deliver.
Aged 24, Sumana Kaluvai, grew up in America as a de facto American, but she now fears self-deportation and family separation. She and her advocacy group The Hidden Dream joined the protest in San Francisco, California, to express the concerns of an estimated 200,000 young immigrants who have been living lawfully in the US for years as dependents of their parents on temporary work visas.
Many visa dreamers, like Sumana, lose their legal immigration status when they turn 21 and are forced to choose between returning to their original countries where they have spent little time, transferring to an F-1 visa, or staying in the US illegally to be with their families.
“There are thousands of engineers in companies like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and others around the Bay Area, that keep these companies afloat. Companies hire our parents on various employment visas but then they don’t support them when it comes to filing for green cards or supporting their families through the long and uncertain immigration journey. That’s why I am here so that people like me of Indian origin come out and tell their stories,” Sumana said.
Under the legal system, some families have undergone slow-motion family separations. An Indian immigrant and human rights activist, Vara Ramakrishnan, came out to support the “Day Without Immigrants” on a frigid winter morning. The tenacious advocate emphasizes visa limitations and enormous backlogs for green card applications, particularly for Indian nationals who must wait for generations for permanent status.
Vara is realistic about the long odds that any immigration reform will face, but she also believes that more Indian immigrants must come up and tell their experiences. “Very few (Indian) immigrants are activists, Gandhi would be ashamed of us people! You need to be out on the streets”, Vara said.
Many protesters are preparing another march near the White House in Washington on February 28, a day before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. In the United States, 14% of the population was born in another country. Of that total, 31 million are documented, but approximately 12 million are not permitted to remain in the nation.
Seven to eight million of the 11 million people work in the labor market without benefits, and the Infrastructure Construction project featured an immigration component. But unfortunately, the Senate parliamentarian has eliminated any likelihood of this component of immigration being included in that bill because it is not economic, as she has ruled.
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