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US: Legislation on immigration reforms not until 2016-end

world Updated: Nov 03, 2015 00:56 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Newly elected Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan wields the speaker's gavel for the first time on Capitol Hill in Washington in this file photo from October 29, 2015. Ryan said on November 1, 2015 that it would be ridiculous to work with President Barack Obama on immigration policy reform, saying he cannot trust the president on the issue. (Reuters File Photo)

Paul Ryan, the new US House of Representatives speaker, has ruled out any legislation on comprehensive immigration reforms until after the country has a new president, after 2016.

That is not good news for the thousands of Indians working or staying in the US or those waiting for their Green Cards, on the way to citizenship.

“We won’t bring immigration legislation with a president we cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan, a Republican, said in an interview on ABC on Sunday.

He did not rule out limited-scope, less ambitious reforms to improve border enforcement and interior security. The big reforms bill, however, is out for until 2016 end.

A White House-backed comprehensive immigrations reforms bill passed in 2103 by the then Democratic-controlled senate died after falling through in the Republican-controlled House.

Though it had bipartisan support, having being authored by a group of eight senators, the Republican party itself remained unconvinced.

If the bill had passed congress, President Barack Obama was ready to sign it into law, which would have touched, as one publication had then put it, every corner of US immigrations.

It laid out a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants, some of whom are from India, but mostly are Hispanics from neighboring countries.

Most importantly for India was the provision raising the annual cap on temporary H-1B visa for highly-skilled foreign workers, most of whom are from India and China — taking up the cap from 65,000 (with another 20,000 for those studying in the US) to 115,000 at first and eventually to 180,000.

The legislation also promised a better deal for those waiting for their Green Card — a category that includes close to i million Indians, according to advocacy group Immigration Voice.

Comprehensive immigration reforms are likely to address the same issues, though not with the same details, whenever they are taken up again. But not before 2016, according to Ryan.