In a perfect world, Jagdeesh Subramanian would have gotten his green card and U.S. citizenship. He’s been living in the U.S. for almost 20 years and works as an engineer in Kansas City on a temporary visa for high-skilled workers.
But he’s still waiting.
“I probably wouldn’t get my green card before I die,” Subramanian said.
That’s because he’s from India, which has a huge backlog of U.S. visa-holders who have applied for green cards. India sends, by far, the largest number of workers to the U.S. under H-1B and other visas for high-skilled workers, and the U.S. government limits the number of green cards that can go to immigrants from any given country in any given year to 7 percent.
According to the Cato Institute, anywhere between 230,000 and 2 million Indian nationals will have to wait between 50 and 250 years for green cards.
That’s why Subramanian has advocated for several years for legislation that would lift the per-country cap on green cards. And he’s found his most steadfast ally in Kevin Yoder, a Republican congressman from Kansas.
Yoder came to Congress in the tea party wave of 2010 and since then has had a consistently conservative record — including several recent votes in support of Donald Trump’s immigration agenda. But given that Hillary Clinton narrowly won his district in 2016, tacking to the center on legal immigration could be a safe, politically shrewd move.
This segment originally aired Nov. 29, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.