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Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ZOE LOFGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, this country has needed to eliminate the ``per country'' limits for employment-based immigrants, and increase those for family-based immigrants, for a very long time.

Although these are relatively small fixes, and a great deal more needs to be done, these fixes represent a balanced approach to addressing some of the long-standing problems in our broken immigration system. And they are the right thing to do.

We all know that our immigration system is severely broken, and it has been broken for decades. At the heart of this broken system are the outdated employment- and family-based immigration systems, which suffer under decades-long backlogs. In combination with the per country limits, these backlogs keep nuclear families apart for decades, while preventing U.S. employers from accessing and retaining the employees they need to stay competitive.

H.R. 3012 begins to address these problems by eliminating the employment-based per-country limits and adjusting the family-based per-country limits to make the system fairer for people caught in the backlogs. This is a good step that will lead to more equitable outcomes.

But I must note that until we do something about the backlogs themselves, we will continue to have a dysfunctional system. This bill will help certain Indian nationals, who now face a wait of 70 years to get green cards,; But because the bill does not address the scope of the backlogs, it will increase the wait time for many others. Under this bill, everyone seeking an employment-based third preference green card will have to wait 12 years. That may be more equitable, but it doesn't fix the underlying problem.

In any event, the bill makes the system fairer, and that is why I support it. I just hope that we can come together, as we have done today, to fix other areas of our immigration law.

Hopefully, this type of balanced legislation, in combination with true cooperation across the aisle, can serve as a model for addressing other areas of our broken immigration system. This country desperately needs that we try.

I thank the author of the bill, JASON CHAFFETZ, as well as Judiciary Committee Chairman LAMAR SMITH and Ranking Member JOHN CONYERS, for working with me on this bill and addressing some of my concerns.

I urge my colleagues to support the bill.


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