Last week, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mia Love (R-UT) led 130 bipartisan Members of Congress in sending a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging the Administration to protect work authorization for almost 100,000 immigrants who are in the process of becoming legal permanent residents.
The bipartisan letter comes shortly after the Trump Administration announced intent to rescind work authorization for H-4 visa holders, most of whom are women with advanced educational degrees, and who are already contributing to our economy and workforce.
In the letter to DHS, lawmakers write:
“The opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work has made our economy stronger, while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses—mostly women—who have resided in the United States for years. Many are on the path to permanent residency, and would already be permanent residents if not for the decades-long employment backlogs. Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families. We strongly urge you to reconsider this action.”
H-4 visa holders are the spouses of highly-skilled specialty workers. Many are stuck in a decades-long wait for permanent residency due to an annual per-country cap on green cards for individuals from places like India and China. Since earning the ability to work in 2014, H-4 visa holders have been able to participate in the workforce, better integrate into the community and make major life decisions to provide for their families while navigating the process to become legal permanent residents. Revoking work authorization for 100,000 people, 93% of whom are women, would be unnecessarily cruel and damaging, and would undermine the U.S.’ position as the top destination for the world’s greatest talent.
The bipartisan letter shows that there is broad bipartisan support in Congress for protecting work authorization for H-4 visa holders, and for immediately addressing other long-standing challenges of a broken immigration system, like the green card backlogs. FWD.us issued a statement in support of the rule in March and we join these Congressional leaders in calling on the Administration to protect the rule.
To read more about H-4 recipients and the importance of this rule, see these articles:
Seattle Times // Lynn Thompson // Identity crisis: Wives of immigrant tech workers struggle to find purpose
CNN Money // Parija Kavilanz // Doctors, teachers and entrepreneurs on H-4 visas fear losing their businesses and jobs
San Francisco Chronicle // Trisha Thadani // Work permits for H-1B spouses could disappear, leaving lives in flux
Chicago Tribune // Brian Murphy // Spouses of Indian and Chinese tech workers could be stripped of right to work in U.S.
Below please find a press release announcing the letter and names of signers:
Jayapal, Love Lead 130 in Bipartisan Support of Work Authorization of H-4 Dependent Spouses
May 16, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Mia Love (R-UT) led 130 bipartisan members of Congress in urging Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to maintain the current regulation granting work authorization to certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrant workers. The Trump Administration is expected to rescind the rule granting these spouses work authorization in June.
“The opportunity for H-4 visa holders to work has made our economy stronger, while providing relief and economic support to thousands of spouses—mostly women—who have resided in the United States for years,” wrote the members. “Many are on the path to permanent residency, and would already be permanent residents if not for the decades-long employment backlogs. Rescinding the rule will hurt the competitiveness of U.S. employers and the U.S. economy, as well as H-4 accompanying spouses and their families. We strongly urge you to reconsider this action.”
One hundred and thirty bipartisan members of Congress have signed on to the letter including Christopher H. Smith, John Lewis, Frank Pallone, Jr., Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, David Price, Rosa L. DeLauro, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jerrold Nadler, Jim Cooper, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Anna G. Eshoo, Gene Green, Luis V. Gutiérrez, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Peter T. King, Lucille Roybal Allard, Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, Nydia M. Velázquez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Elijah E. Cummings, Diana DeGette, James P. McGovern, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Adam Smith, Gregory W. Meeks, Barbara Lee, Michael E. Capuano, Joe Crowley, John B. Larson, Grace F. Napolitano, Jan Schakowsky, Mike Thompson, Susan A. Davis, James R. Langevin, Rick Larsen, Betty McCollum, Raúl M. Grijalva, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Linda T. Sánchez, David Scott, G.K. Butterfield, Gwen S. Moore, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Doris Matsui, Albio Sires, Kathy Castor, Yvette D. Clarke, Steve Cohen, Joe Courtney, Keith Ellison, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Jerry McNerney, John Sarbanes, Timothy J. Walz, Peter Welch, John Yarmuth, Niki Tsongas, André Carson, Marcia L. Fudge, Richard M. Nolan, Mike Coffman, Gerald E. Connolly, Jim Himes, Jared Polis, Kurt Schrader, Paul Tonko, Mike Quigley, Judy Chu, Ted Deutch, Bill Foster, David N. Cicilline, William R. Keating, Steve Stivers, Frederica Wilson, Rob Woodall, Kevin Yoder, Suzanne Bonamici, Suzan DelBene, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Dina Titus, Colleen Hanabusa, Carol Shea-Porter, Joyce Beatty, Ami Bera, Joaquin Castro, Rodney Davis, John K. Delaney, Elizabeth H. Esty, Tulsi Gabbard, Denny Heck, Joseph P. Kennedy, III, Derek Kilmer, Ann McLane Kuster, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Grace Meng, Beto O’Rourke, Scott H. Peters, Mark Pocan, Kyrsten Sinema, Mark Takano, Juan Vargas, Marc Veasey, Katherine Clark, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Donald S. Beyer, Jr., Ryan A. Costello, Carlos Curbelo, Ruben Gallego, Brenda L. Lawrence, Ted W. Lieu, Seth Moulton, Kathleen M. Rice, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Don Bacon, Nanette Diaz Barragán, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Anthony G. Brown, J. Luis Correa, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Al Lawson, A. Donald McEachin, Stephanie Murphy, Jimmy Panetta, Jamie Raskin, John H. Rutherford, Thomas R. Suozzi and Karen Handel.