Immigrants rally at Capitol to protest backlog

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Washington, Sep 19 (UNI) About 1,000 highly skilled legal immigrants, including doctors, medical technicians and computer engineers from India and China, rallied at the Capitol to protest ''bureaucratic backlogs'' in the immigration system.

The immigrants, carrying placards came from as far as California and Washington State yesterday to demand more permanent visas for highly educated immigrants and more resources for the overburdened immigration system, The New York Times reported.

The immigrants, who are living in the United States on temporary student or high-skilled employment visas, said they were nearing despair with wait lasting as long as a decade to obtain visas giving them permanent residence called 'green cards'.

Despite soaring demand from immigrants and high-tech businesses, an annual limit of 1,40,000 on employment-based green cards had not been altered since 1990.

The immigrants at the rally were clearly committed to staying in the United States, pausing from their speeches to listen to one of their leaders sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner'.

Dr Sridhar Narra, 34, a physician born in India, said his efforts to gain a green card lasted almost eight years, including a two-year forced separation from his wife, also from India. After coming to the United States in 1999, Dr Narra practiced medicine under a special visa for doctors serving in areas where medical personnel were scarce. He has worked with low-income and uninsured patients at a clinic in Benton Harbor to fulfill a five-year requirement, and applied for his green card two years ago.

''I've been waiting, law abiding, tax paying,'' Dr Narra said.

But how long is long enough, he sought to know.

UNI

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