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Indian-American groups to campaign on immigration issues

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New York: Indian-American groups have called for a campaign on immigration issues affecting the Indian diaspora including use of H-1B visa by technology companies from India and growing backlog of family visas.

The call was made at an immigration seminar organised by Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO-New York), South Asian Council for Social Services (SACSS) and the Kerala Centre in Elmont, New York recently.

Grass-root actions were also required to support President Barack Obama’s executive actions that were announced in November 2014, participants said.

While immigration reform holistically seems to be stalled, Obama’s executive actions are designed in a piecemeal manner aimed at improving the overall immigration law system.

The participants also hoped that extreme backlogs for Indian nationals in many visa classifications may be reduced in some fair manner.

These backlogs have resulted in families being separated for long periods of time despite one of the major tenets underlying US immigration law being family unity.

H-1B non-immigrant professional and specialty occupation work visas continue to be scrutinized heavily by such agencies as the US Homeland Security, State, and Labour departments, the seminar noted.

Additionally, many of the largest users of the H-1B visa are very significant technology companies from India, the seminar noted.

Grassroots efforts should be made to help the government understand that India is not the only user of these technology visas, it suggested.

Attempts to avert a form of reverse discrimination should be undertaken soonest, the participants suggested.

Among other issues raised was India’s exclusion from Treaty Investment and Treaty Trader category for the immigration visa purpose.

It is not clear why Bangladesh and Pakistan and Sri Lanka all have E visas but India does not, the participants noted.

It was resolved that GOPIO and other community groups must campaign on these issues.

“It is important for the Indian American community to take up such issues with Obama administration and elected officials and make them aware of importance of such issues for the country as a whole,” said GOPIO’s Founder President Thomas Abraham.

The panelists were attorneys Michael Phulwani and David Nachman of NPZ Law Group and Anand Ahuja. Abraham moderated the discussion.

 

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Mass Immigration Of Venezuelans Causing A Crisis: WFP

The WFP is providing food rations to the most vulnerable migrants in Colombia and Ecuador.

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Venezuelan
Venezuelan migrants camp in a park near the main bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia. VOA

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) says the mass migration of Venezuelans throughout South America in search of asylum and economic relief is plunging the entire region into crisis.

The WFP says Colombia, in particular, is facing an unprecedented emergency because thousands of desperate Venezuelans arrive there daily to escape political and economic turmoil. It says Colombia is hosting nearly 1 million of the roughly 2.3 million Venezuelans who have fled their country.

Venezuelans
Helene Villalonga speaks during an interview at AMAVEX INC., an organization she founded that helps reunify migrant families and victims of domestic violence find shelter, in Doral, Fla., March 12, 2018. VOA

Colombia has emerged relatively recently from its decades-long war with FARC guerrillas. Dealing with its own political, social and economic needs after such a long period of conflict is difficult.

WFP spokesman Herve Verhoosel acknowledges the burden the large influx of Venezuelans is placing upon Colombia. He said the government and citizens are doing all they can to step up to the challenge.

“The country has made progress in its peace process and ending hunger; however, as the migration crisis grows in proportion, it jeopardizes recent gains. The crisis is affecting host families and communities receiving large numbers of migrants, particularly indigenous communities, which welcome new arrivals but face very difficult living conditions,” Verhoosel said.

Venezuelans
Venezuelan migrant children line up to receive food at a makeshift camp near the transport terminal in Bogota, Colombia. VOA

Many Venezuelans transit through Colombia and move on to Ecuador, Peru and other South American countries. Aid agencies say a lack of food, medicine and other basic goods, loss of livelihoods and growing political repressions in Venezuela are creating one of the largest mass exoduses in Latin American history.

Also Read: Most Terrible Water Crisis Ever in History Leaves Millions Of Indians Thirsty

Verhoosel said the WFP is providing food rations to the most vulnerable migrants in Colombia and Ecuador, especially women, children and others living in temporary shelters and on the street. He said WFP urgently needs $22 million to scale up its aid operation. (VOA)