The year comes to an end on an ambiguous note for lakhs of Indian families in the United States, who have been waiting for a green card for decades. The US Senate Parliamentarian has turned down ‘Plan C’ for comprehensive immigration reform included in the $2.2 Trillion Spending Bill known as the Build Back Better (BBB) Act.
The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act on November 19, which offered for the recapturing of unused family and employment-based green card numbers from 1992 to 2021. This provision was estimated to save nearly 1.5 lakh unused family-based green cards and nearly 1 lakh odd employment-based green cards that expired on September 30, this year.
This and other measures, such as paying a supplement fee and bypassing the green-card queue or the country-specific numerical limits, would benefit a large number of Indians. For unregistered individuals, the BBB Act provided work permits and deportation protection for five years, renewable once for a total of ten years.
This parole system was supposed to cover 70 lakh people. The Senate Parliamentarian then reviewed the immigration provisions to determine whether they can be included in a budget reconciliation/spending bill. The Bill would then be sent to the Senate for consideration.
The parole provision, according to Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, is outside the scope of the spending bill. The regulations associated with green card recapture, on the other hand, have not been acknowledged.
According to US Tech Workers, a non-profit comprised of American workers, “the Parliamentarian has not made a comment on the green card recapture provision.” Democrats are reluctant to allow immigration provisions that benefit Big Tech to pass without amnesty for illegal aliens. For them, it’s all or nothing.”
In the meantime, the immigration lawyers are voicing their opinions on whether the Democratic Senators should push through the provisions relating to green card recapture or whether the Parliamentarian’s opinion (which is advisory in nature) should be ignored.
For the time being, it is ambiguous what the future holds for the tens of thousands of Indians who are stuck in the green card backlog.
The BBB bill was introduced with a broad social and environmental spending plan that Democrats hope to pass through the budget reconciliation process to avoid a Republican filibuster in the Senate.
The House bill aimed to provide immigration parole and work permits to 7 million undocumented people, as well as a framework to recapture unused green cards dating back to 1992, and to enable people who have been stuck in the green card queues for two or more years to pay an extra fee to apply for their green cards early.
The immigration regulations in Build Back Better are still being negotiated in the Senate, where the parliamentarian is determining whether they are in accordance with Senate budget rules. However, the bill was supposed to be signed into law by the end of 2021, it now appears that it will be delayed until early 2022.