US House Passes Green-Card Change Championed by Widow of Kansas Hate-Crime Victim
WASHINGTON — In the aftermath of her husband’s 2017 murder, Olathe, Kan., resident Sunayana Dumala became the face of legislation to help her and other Indian immigrants take a step toward U.S. citizenship.
Her advocacy led to a major victory Wednesday, when the U.S. House passed the measure by a vote of 365-65.
House Resolution 1044 removes a per-country limit on employment-based green cards, a change that will primarily benefit highly skilled immigrants from India and China.
Under the current system, Dumala and other immigrants from these countries live on temporary work visas that are tied to their employer.
Because of the high volume of immigrants from India and China, they can wait for decades to receive a green card, a step they must take in order to become citizens.
Their families are also dependent on their work status. Dumala’s own immigration status fell into jeopardy after the murder of her husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian-born engineer at Garmin, in a shooting at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe. The shooting death was classified as a hate crime.
She eventually obtained a work visa of her own and was able to remain in the United States following the intervention of then-Rep. Kevin Yoder.
“Today is an important day for many of us, a moment we have been waiting for years. Finally, our hard work and tireless efforts have come into fruition,” Dumala said in a statement Wednesday.
“After the tragic murder of my husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, I lost my status to stay in the country and the immigration struggle took over my grief. And, today with HR 1044 getting passed I can finally find peace and no words can express my happiness.”
Dumala has made multiple trips to Washington to advocate for the legislation. Supporters say removing the per-country limit creates a first-come, first-serve system, which will be fair to green-card applicants from all countries.
“People are finally understanding that no matter what else is wrong with our immigration system, we can all agree that discrimination should never be a basis for deciding who is given access to permanent residency in the United States,” said Aman Kapoor, the co-founder and president of Immigration Voice, the main group that has been lobbying for the legislation.
Kapoor said the legislation will allow highly-skilled immigrants to start their own companies once they obtain green cards, which will be an economic benefit to American workers.
However, the bill still faces opposition from groups such as the American Hospital Association, which says removing the per-country limit will create backlogs for other immigrant groups, making it difficult for hospitals to hire nurses from the Philippines and other countries.
Groups looking to limit immigration, such as the Center for Immigration Studies, have also been vocal in their opposition to the bill.
The legislation was originally sponsored by Yoder, a Republican, during the previous Congress. Dumala had been a fixture on the campaign trail as he faced a difficult reelection battle.
The bill never came up for a vote on the full House floor during that time and Yoder’s efforts to include the legislation as part of a border wall deal fell short before his time in Congress ended.
But his Democratic successor, Rep. Sharice Davids, joined on as a co-sponsor when the measure was re-introduced this year.
The Johnson County Democrat noted her predecessor’s work on the issue and touted the economic benefits of fixing the green-card process for high-skilled tech workers from India and other countries.
“Kansas businesses depend on high-skilled workers to be competitive and to contribute to the local economy. This bipartisan bill will allow our businesses to focus on retaining these workers, while also reducing the backlogs for people facing the longest waiting times,” Davids said in a statement.
The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate. Davids said she hopes House passage spurs work on more comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
©2019 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)
Visit The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.) at www.kansascity.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
LOS ANGELES — Following Democratic Rep. Katie Hill’s resignation over allegations of a sexual relationship with a staffer and a campaign aide, the freshman lawmaker’s Palmdale office received a suspicious envelope Monday containing a white powder that was determined to be harmless. A Los Angeles County... Read More
WASHINGTON — Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden announced Monday that he is not running for reelection, media reports said. Walden is the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2014 and 2016 cycles. He is... Read More
With what seems like an annual tradition, consumers flip on their TV to catch a playoff game or some other “must see TV” program only to find the station blacked out in the pay TV provider’s lineup because the provider can’t reach an agreement with the... Read More
WASHINGTON — The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has been a central concern at town halls for House Democrats across the country, with both safe and vulnerable members of the caucus fielding questions from Trump’s defenders and voters who want him removed from office. While... Read More
WASHINGTON - Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla. told attendees at an election security forum Tuesday that tech platforms have become "battlefields" in a "bloodless conflict" and that winning requires arming voters with in-depth knowledge of the threat they face. "We need to recognize that when it comes... Read More
WASHINGTON — Congress returns to Washington this week amid mounting pressure from Democrats and the public to enact new gun restrictions, but lawmakers from both parties say meaningful action hangs solely on President Donald Trump. Since lawmakers were last in session Aug. 2, three mass shootings... Read More