Meng Immigration Amendment Passes Key House Committee
Jul 16, 2020
Congresswoman’s measure combats Trump Administration’s zeal to reduce immigration levels to unprecedented levels
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security—which has oversight of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) budget and policies—announced today that her amendment to rollover unused family-sponsored visas, employment-based visas, and diversity visas passed the House Appropriations Committee as part of the panel’s Homeland Security spending bill for fiscal year 2021.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allocates 480,000 visas annually for family-sponsored categories; 140,000 visas annually for employment-sponsored categories; and 55,000 for diversity visas. Due to COVID-19 and the curtailing of immigration operations both abroad at U.S. embassies and consulates, and at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), only a fraction of these visa allocations are being or will be used by the end of the current fiscal year.
Meng’s measure would allow unused fiscal year 2020 family-based, employment-based, and diversity visas to remain available in fiscal year 2021, and to allow unused fiscal year 2021 visas to remain available in fiscal year 2022.
“The Trump administration’s immigration policies are flawed at best; at worst, they are deeply destructive and harmful to those who seek a better future in our country,” said Congresswoman Meng. “I’ve been fighting the administration’s efforts to close the door to immigrants since the very beginning. The President’s recent proclamations on suspending entry of new immigrants extend the wait period for those in line for family-based visas and the diversity visa program. I have constituents who have waited over a decade for their employment-sponsored visas to be available. Consequently, they cannot accept work promotions or accept any job offers. I have other constituents with children who are going to age out because they have been waiting for their family-sponsored visas to be available. Consequently, these children may have to start a new immigration application, and then go through another lengthy process while being separated from their families. The vibrant, multicultural nation that we see today is in part due to our current family-based and employment-sponsored immigration system, and diversity visa program. Our country prides itself as a ‘nation of immigrants,’ its diversity, and its policies to preserve family reunification. This coronavirus pandemic has uprooted every facet of our nation and everyone’s lives. It has complicated an already lengthy immigration process.”
“Congress did right by the diversity visa program,” Meng added. “It did right with the statutory framework in the INA on family-based and employment-sponsored green cards. And this is demonstrated by the rich diversity that Queens has with its people, food, and culture. We cannot allow the Trump administration to squash the dreams of immigrants. I thank the Homeland Security Subcommittee Chair Roybal-Allard’s and my colleagues’ support in adopting my amendment, and look forward to the passing of this measure on the floor of the House of Representatives.”
“We applaud Representative Grace Meng for taking steps to preserve family immigration and the visas necessary to reunite loved ones caught in the cruel vice grip of this administration's unending assault on all immigrants, and especially black and brown ones," said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC.
“Family-based and diversity visas account for a large proportion of African immigration to the U.S.,” said Diana A. Konaté, J.D., Policy Director at African Communities Together. “Half of Africans who immigrate to the U.S. do so through family based visas. And of the 55,000 diversity visas allotted each year, one-third typically go to Africans. Consequently, Trump’s recent immigration bans will have a disastrous effect on the ability of Africans to migrate here. We therefore welcome Congresswoman Meng’s amendment to rollover unused family-based, employment-based, and diversity visas to FY2021 and FY2022. We thank the Congresswoman for her leadership on this issue and are thrilled that the amendment was adopted during markup.”
"CHIRLA commends Rep. Grace Meng’s amendment to keep the number of green cards issued in this country viable,” said Joseph Villela, Director of Policy and Advocacy at CHIRLA. “We support rolling over and adding to next year’s goal the thousands of green cards that the federal government did not process because of President Trump’s specious prohibition on processing due to COVID-19. Meng stands with us in the fight to keep and enhance all avenues to legal status and citizenship.”