About 200 skilled Indian workers from across the US in a long agonising wait for a green card, along with their children and spouses, held a rally in front of the White House in Washington in support of President Donald Trump's plan for a merit-based immigration system that among other things ends chain migration and diversity lottery visas.
They argue the Trump administration's plan for a ''merit-based'' immigration system would benefit thousands of high-skilled visa holders who've waited years to become legal permanent residents.
The demonstrators, many of them software engineers and other technical workers from South Asia who hold H1-B visas, said a backlog in green card applications has kept them in limbo while their children face the risk of becoming too old to benefit from the immigration process as dependents.
At the rally, organized by the Illinois-based Republican Hindu Coalition, they urged President Trump to cut through the backlog and place a higher priority on the problems faced by immigrants in the United States legally.
Flying to the US capital from as far as California, Texas and Chicago and driving several hundred miles from places like Florida, New York and Massachusetts, these Indians, living in the US for the past several years and in many cases for more than a decade, urged Trump to end the per country limit on legal permanent residency so as to eliminate the massive green card backlog of highly skilled Indians.
"We are looking strictly for a merit-based immigration. That will bring prosperity and fast economic growth of the US," Krishna Bansal, national policy and political director of the Republican Hindu Coalition, told the rally of the skilled Indians who want to make the US their permanent home.
"We are with President Trump for taking initiative towards a merit-based immigration system," Bansal told PTI, adding that his group is working with the White House and lawmakers towards a comprehensive immigration bill that should include all these things.
Giving green cards to thousands of highly skilled professionals from India would help them realise their full potential and boost country's growth and prosperity, he said.
''When I came here, my daughter was 6 years old,'' Nandu Konduri, 45, a software engineer in North Carolina who has been waiting for his green card application to be processed since 2007, told The Washington Post. ''Many kids have already aged out. We feel stuck.''
The participants, many of them software engineers, at the rally on Saturday had banner and posters with slogans like 'Cut Green Card backlog', 'strictly merit-based point system', 'end country limit', 'we need to support legal dreamers', and 'We support Trump.'
This was one of the rare pro-Trump immigration rallies at the White House.