A group of Indians in the United States on H-1B visa held a protest rally in Washington DC on Wednesday, demanding immigration law reform, ANI reported. Indian immigrants organised an “Equality Rally”, protesting against Democratic Senator from Illinois Dick Durbin, the only legislator who has stalled the passing of a bill that would provide employment-based green cards on a first-come-first-serve basis.

“These are taxpaying law-abiding skilled immigrants who are already in the country for many years –doctors, engineers, scientists and professors,” Aman Kapoor, president of an organisation called Immigration Voice, said. “They are stuck in the long green card backlog which will span 150 years! What we are doing here is protesting Senator Durban’s hold on the bill yesterday...”

The demonstrators also protested outside Senator Gary Peters’ office, urging him to denounce Durbin. Placards at the rally had slogans like, “Hate Has No Home Here”, “Senator Durbin Hates Indian Immigrants” and “Racism is a Disease”.

The group also demanded that the federal government clear the green card backlog. The group has also called for legal childhood arrivals to receive benefits that individuals brought illegally to the US as minors get. H-1B visa holders’ spouses or children get H4 dependent visas. The H-1B visa holders have demanded that children in H4 category be given green cards immediately so that they do not have to transfer to a different visa category after they turn 21.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act, 2019, aims to remove the limit on issuing green cards. The Act has passed the Democratic Party-dominated House of Representatives but is being held up in the Senate, The Times of India reported on July 21.

“I came to America with my family around 11 or 12 years ago,” Tejaswi, one of the protestors, told ANI. “I still do not have my green card and I just turned 21. So I aged out of my parents’ green card process. I need to restart the whole green card process again from the beginning.”

Protests for addressing the green card backlog were held in Illinois, Nebraska and Michigan states of the US over the weekend. Amit Ranjan, one of the organisers of a march to the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing, said: “Many students come to the US pursuing the American dream. “However, what they do not realise is that solely because of their country of birth they are treated significantly differently from their counterparts. They are forever stuck with temporary visas.”

United States President Donald Trump had in June decided to suspend a number of work visas until the end of the year, including the highly sought-after H-1B visas for skilled workers. The move will disproportionately hurt Indian citizens, who have received as much as 70% of H-1B visas over the past five years. Earlier this month, a group of 174 Indians, including seven minors, filed a lawsuit against Trump’s decision.