BANGOR- Finding the right person for the job isn’t always an easy task, but in some cases, they can’t apply.
A bill that would help high-skilled immigrants get green cards by creating a first come, first serve system is currently sitting in judiciary committee in Washington D.C.
Monday night, Bangor city councilors wrote a letter in support of the bill.
“It was a really great turnout of support and to hear that conversation around immigration in support of our new Mainers and refugees was really impressive,” said council chair, Clare Davitt.
The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, co-sponsored by Senator Susan Collins, would eliminate per-country limitations for green cards.
“I‘ve been waiting over 10 years in the backlog,” said Navneet Jain, an associate professor at Maine Maritime Academy. “I came to Maine as a student in 2004. I was fortunate to get a position at Maine Maritime as faculty. If I were to lose my job, I would have 30 to 60 days to pack up my bags and leave.”
He said that’s the case for most people from India, but for a person coming from a less populated country the wait time for a green card would be significantly shorter.
Without a green card, high-skilled immigrants are locked into one job and prevented from opening businesses.
“The whole country has a workforce shortage and we need new Mainers of all types to come in and stay and make this a community,” said Davitt. “That’s what we’re founded on, so the easier we can make it for people to come and contribute to our society, that’s what we’d like to do.”
In a statement, Senator Collins said “Maine needs skilled immigrants to alleviate our labor shortage as well as to help grow our economy. The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act, which I cosponsored, would create a ‘first come, first serve’ merit-based system for green cards to help the U.S. attract the most qualified and skilled applicants. This would help ensure that our country has access to the most talented workers who can help drive innovation and keep our businesses on the cutting edge. I will continue to work with my colleagues to advance this bipartisan bill.”
“My kids call this home. I call this home. I’ve done everything right,” said Jain. “I’m not asking for a handout. I’m just asking to be treated fairly.”
The bill is facing objections with some saying a better solution would be to increase the number of green cards and not change the per-country limitations.