Washington [US](ANI): Hundreds of immigrants, including some Indian immigrants, held a nationwide “Day Without Immigrants” protest on Monday.
The protest took off in cities like New York and San Fransisco including a large rally outside the White House, aimed at building pressure on US President Joe Biden to prioritise the protection of immigrants and bringing reforms for them.
Advocates from different countries who have been residing in the US called on the Biden administration to offer a pathway to citizenship through the Build Back Better bill. Some families travelled to Washington D.C. to demand change and others chose to not go to work, send their children to school or purchase anything on Monday.
The organizers say the point is to show the economic impact the immigrant community would have if they didn’t spend their money or provide labour.
The call for reform comes as about 11 million undocumented immigrants and many documented immigrants living in the United States. Advocates say that there is a lot of frustration being aimed at the Biden administration and Democratic congressional leaders for promising immigration reforms on the campaign trail, and not delivering.
24-year-old Sumana Kaluvai grew up in America as a de facto American, but she faces the prospect of self-deportation and family separation. Voicing the concerns of an estimated 200,000 young immigrants living legally in the US for years as dependents of their parents on temporary work visas, Sumana and her advocacy group The Hidden Dream joined the protest in the western city of San Fransisco.
“There are thousands of engineers in companies like Google, Facebook, YouTube and others around the Bay Area, that keep these companies afloat. Companies hire our parents on various employment visas but then they don’t support them when it comes to filing for green cards or supporting their families through the long and uncertain immigration journey. That’s why I am here so that people like me of Indian origin come out and tell their stories,” Sumana told ANI.
After turning 21, many visa dreamers like Sumana abruptly lose legal immigration status and are forced to choose between returning to their native countries where they have spent little time, switching to an F-1 visa or continue to stay in the US illegally to stay with their families.
Some families have experienced slow-rolling family separations under the legal framework. Vara Ramakrishnan, an Indian Immigrant and also a human rights activist, come out on a cold winter morning to support the “Day Without Immigrants”. The strong-willed advocate underscores the visa caps and lengthy backlogs for green card applications — especially for foreign nationals from India, who have to wait decades for permanent residency.
Vara is clear-eyed about the long odds any immigration reform faces but also stresses that more Indian immigrants must come out and tell their stories. “Very few (Indian) immigrants are activists, Gandhi would be ashamed of us people! You need to be out on the streets.”
Many participants are planning another protest in Washington on February 28 to rally near the White House a day before President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. (ANI)(image -instagram)