THE BLOG
06/05/2013 04:43 pm ET Updated Jul 29, 2013

How Immigration Reform Helps Undocumented Immigrants Jump the Queue

Under the proposed bill, an undocumented immigrant who entered the U.S. in December 2011 will have more economic rights than an MIT engineer who entered the country in 2000, graduated in 2004, has been working at IBM since 2004 and had filed for a green card as early as 2003-4 (nearly a decade ago).

In other words, this immigration reform bill has been drafted in such zealous pursuit of votes of the Hispanic community, that it enables undocumented immigrants to jump the line blatantly and flout any semblance of the rule of law.

This is why: Under the registered provisional immigrant status (RPI), an undocumented immigrant can change jobs whenever she wishes, and can also start a business. There are no restrictions on how an individual on RPI status chooses to lead her economic life.

However, an MIT engineer who came to the U.S. in 2000 and graduated in 2004, has been working at IBM since 2004, for whom IBM might have applied for a green card as far back as 2004 is still waiting in line -- and even after the passage of this bill it will likely take another two to three years before she can obtain her green card (in the so-called EB2 queue). While she waits, if this engineer wanted to instead try a job in sales, she would risk losing her position in the green card line and will have to start over again. If she were to want to start her company and not work at IBM any more, she would be at risk of being deported and her place in the green card line would be lost. She cannot even leave IBM to join Microsoft easily without putting her green card application at risk. This will stay true even after two to three years of the passage of this bill; whereas an undocumented immigrant who came as recently as December 2011 will have no such restrictions on the economic choices she makes.

This is basically cutting queue. The solution to this problem is to enhance the economic rights of those who have been waiting for backlogged employment based green cards for several years. Anyone approved and waiting for an employment-based green card should be allowed the right to start a business or switch job functions and not remain beholden to their employers. This is an important issue for Labor as well to advance choice and rights of workers.

The Senate and the House should consider amendments to fix this loophole in the bill or forever be accused by professional, educated and successful immigrants in this country of betrayal to the rule of law, disingenuous rhetoric in the pursuit of vote banks, and callous legislation.

Click here to read other articles by Dinkar.

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