Recently, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee, and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced the RELIEF Act. This bill removes the per-country cap and eliminates the green card backlog in five years, without harming immigrants from the rest of the world. The RELIEF Act offers a real solution to the green card backlog. In a press release, Senator Durbin’s office shared the details of RELIEF Act:
- Eliminating the family and employment green card backlog over five years in the order in which applications were filed;
- Keeping American families together by classifying spouses and children of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as immediate relatives and exempting derivative beneficiaries of employment-based petitions from annual green card limits;
- Protecting “aging out” children who qualify for LPR status based on a parent’s immigration petition;
- Lifting country caps; and,
- Extending the “hold harmless” clause from H.R. 1044 that exempts immigrant visa petitions approved prior to enactment from the lifting of country caps to petitions approved for five years after enactment.
“… new legislation that would eliminate the family and employment green card backlog by increasing the number of green cards. Close to four million future Americans are on the State Department’s immigrant visa waiting list, in addition to hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. who are also waiting for green cards. However, under current law only 226,000 family green cards and 140,000 employment green cards are available annually. Children and spouses of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) count against these numbers, further restricting the number of available green cards.”
“One of the most serious problems in our broken immigration system is that there are not nearly enough green cards available each year. As a result, immigrants are stuck in crippling backlogs for many years,” Durbin said during his speech opposing Bill S.386. “The solution to this backlog is clear: increase the number of green cards. I’m proud to introduce this commonsense legislation to finally eliminate the family and employment green card backlog.” he continued.
“America at its core is a nation of immigrants, but too often our outdated immigration laws close doors to those who would make enormous contributions to our communities and economy. The mismatch between the supply and demand for green cards has left millions of immigrant families in legal limbo, stuck in a years-long backlog waiting for the chance to contribute to our nation,” Leahy said, according to the press release. “This commonsense legislation — the crux of which was contained in comprehensive immigration reform, which overwhelmingly passed the Senate in 2013 — would eliminate this backlog and is long overdue.”
The bill is currently endorsed by multiple national organizations including: All of Us; American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (Order of AHEPA); Ancient Order of Hibernians; Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE)-USA; National Iranian American Council Action; South Asian Americans Leading Together; United Chinese Americans; United Macedonian Diaspora; and United We Dream. New organizations are joining this list every day. We are also actively advocating for this bill.