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Only In for Illegal Aliens? Dems Refuse to Admit 80,000 Qualified Workers Without Immigration Reform

© REUTERS / ADREES LATIFMigrants seeking refuge in United States cross the Rio Grande river, with bags and children in tow, back into Ciudad Acuna, Mexico from their camp in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 21, 2021.
Migrants seeking refuge in United States cross the Rio Grande river, with bags and children in tow, back into Ciudad Acuna, Mexico from their camp in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 21, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
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With the limit on working immigrant green cards being stuck at 140,000 per year since 1990, many of the 1 million who have applied for these permanent residency permits won't be getting them for decades to come.
Around 80,000 green cards for qualified workers could remain unused in the US this year. Not because there is a lack of demand for them, on the contrary – the US has a massive backlog of one million applications for this type of green card. Only 14,000 per year are issued, but in 2020 they were expected to see a major boost – some 122,000 more green cards unused under the "family preference" category were to be given to qualified workforce seeking permanent legal residency in the country.
The problem is that US Citizenship and Immigration Services was not ready to process all the additional working green card applications, which have to be used up by the end of the fiscal year. Hence, some 80,000 potential permanent residency permits are under threat of remaining unused.
Official residence of the U.S. President, the White House in Washington D.C. - Sputnik International, 1920, 01.10.2021
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The problem could be resolved if Congress would pass a bill allowing the limit to be preserved beyond the expired 30 September 2021 deadline and added to the 2022 fiscal year limit. One such bill has already been introduced by Republican Senators Thom Tillis and Mariannette Miller-Meeks. Unfortunately for 80,000 green card applicants, the legislation has not received the support of Democrats, who have a narrow majority in both chambers.
The bill became a victim of the ongoing intra-party arguments over President Biden's $3.5 trillion spending package, which have prevented the Democratic Party from passing the budget and have caused friction between its moderate and progressive wings. Some Democrats argued that instead of preserving the 80,000 green cards (which would ease the backlog of one million applications), lawmakers should focus on passing a broader immigration reform as a part of the $3.5 trillion bill. Both parties agree that immigration reform is needed, but they are far from finding common ground on what form it should take.
U.S. President Joe Biden responds to questions as he meets with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.10.2021
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Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, in turn, stated that he opposed the motion to preserve the 80,000 green cards destined for qualified workers, many of whom have been waiting for residency permits for over a decade, unless other lawmakers implement protections for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US illegally.
At the same time, US President Joe Biden raised the annual limit on the admissions of refugees into the country from the historic low of 15,000 adopted under President Trump all the way to 125,000 – a level not seen since 1993. This also means that Washington's spending on the resettlement of refugees is set to grow in the new fiscal year, which started in October, and might reach $1 billion or even higher. The expected increase in spending on refugees comes as Congress struggles to adopt a new budget and raise the debt ceiling by December 3, having narrowly avoided a default on its financial obligations after a temporary debt ceiling deal was reached.
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