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Old 03-02-2006, 11:32 AM
admin admin is offline
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Default Immigration Voice featured on Roll Call

Immigration Voice and our cause has been featured on Roll Call. Roll Call is the main newspaper read by lawmakers and their ilk and covers many of the legislative matters. With this article , our voices are beginning to be heard in Washington DC.

Our Strategic Counsel, QGA has been instrumental in bringing out this article. I once again urge all of our members to contribute generously so that we can continue to do this kind of effective work.

Below is the article that appeared in today's copy of Roll Call and here is the link to this article on their website http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_90/news/12359-1.html

Shoestring Immigrant Group Seeks Big Voice

March 2, 2006
By Kate Ackley,
Roll Call Staff

Shilpa Ghodgaonkar has an MBA from George Washington University but can't even get a job doing the most menial of tasks. Siva Singaram dreams of starting his own company, but if he leaves his current employer to become an entrepreneur, he'll lose the right to be in America legally.

And Aman Kapoor — the envy of the other two because he has entered the final stage of applying for an employment-based green card — saw a childhood friend from India return home recently after giving up on the backlogged process of achieving permanent resident status.

The trio came to Washington, D.C., this week to push for new immigration policies to make it easier for people like them to go from temporary-worker status to holders of permanent green cards. They are among a small group that recently founded a grass-roots advocacy network called Immigration Voice. They met during an Internet chat late last year and decided to start their own group, which now boasts 1,000 members. The mission: to give a voice to the people they say are caught in the crossfire of a politically volatile subject and an increasingly backed-up U.S. immigration system.

Though the ad hoc group didn't come to Washington with much money or influence, it has enlisted a lobbying firm with serious clout — Quinn Gillespie & Associates — to help make its case with lawmakers and the Bush administration. Their meetings included stops with House and Senate Judiciary Committee members, a Tuesday morning visit at the White House and Congressional sit-downs in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). They also reached out to tech industry lobbyists and likeminded business interests.

With the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled today to markup a sweeping immigration proposal crafted in part by Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the volunteer lobbyists provide something of a human feel to a side of the debate ordinarily dominated by big companies and associations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.

Quinn Gillespie lobbyist Marc Lampkin said Immigration Voice is a "unique group to serve as a face and voice for people who are here as legal immigrants, serving as vital parts of the economic development in this country. We want to make sure that policymakers understand the people who have played by the rules and want the American dream."

For their part, though, those who oppose additional immigration say that Immigration Voice simply helps them make their case — namely, that temporary workers never want to remain temporary.

Kapoor, Singaram and Ghodgaonkar's husband all came to the U.S. on temporary high-tech worker H-1B visas, which allow a six-year stay. If a foreign employee is to remain on the job here after six years, the employer must apply for the worker to get permanent residency.

The would-be immigrants said that at first, they didn't even know if it was legal for them to lobby the U.S. government. Then, Kapoor said, "when forming this group, we wondered how we should actually approach and petition the government."

Immigration Voice decided to reach out to lobbying firms. It considered the Capitol Hill Consulting Group and Greenberg Traurig, among others. Kapoor was tasked with selecting the firm. He got in touch with Howard Paster of WPP Group, which owns Quinn Gillespie. That is how they connected. Quinn Gillespie lobbyists wouldn't specify the exact amount that Immigration Voice is paying, but said it was lower than normal.

To come to D.C. this week, Kapoor paid for his plane ticket out of pocket and, like the other out-of-town activists, had to take vacation time, as he did the other three times he came to D.C. this year. Singaram, too, said this week's visit was his fourth this year from New Jersey. His wife, he said, is eight months pregnant.

"It's a big sacrifice for all the members," said Ghodgaonkar, who added that it's easier for her because she's unemployed and lives in Germantown, Md.

Kapoor, who works as a technician for Oracle software at Florida State University, said his application has been pending for 28 months. Since 2004, he said he has been fingerprinted four different times.

One thing that both sides of the immigration debate agree on is that the U.S. government has an increasing backlog in processing these applications.

"That's one area where we can sympathize with these guys," said Will Adams, a spokesman for Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), a fierce opponent of illegal immigration who also wants to slow legal immigration. "We just have different views of how to fix it. They want more [immigration]. But we need to get control of the system before we even consider that."

Kapoor and the other leaders of Immigration Voice want an increase to the current per-country quotas on the number of green cards the U.S . approves each year; they want greater transparency in the application process; they want spouses of H-1B visa-holders to be able to work; and they want the ability to change employers during any stage of waiting for a green card.

Such issues are rampant with controversy.

Jack Martin, special projects director of the hard-line Federation for American Immigration Reform, said his group objects to any policies that would increase the cap on the number of green cards from any particular country. "The per-country ceiling provision was one that was designed to prevent nationals from any one country from coming to dominate the immigration flow into the United States," he said.

Singaram said his group, whose U.S.-based members hail from his native India as well as China and other countries, is currently a grass-roots-only organization. But with the help of Quinn Gillespie, it is looking for corporate support. The group hopes to have 10,000 members by the end of March and 25,000 by June, Kapoor said.

Sandra Boyd, a vice president with the National Association of Manufacturers and chairwoman of Compete America, a coalition of 250 companies and research institutions that support measures to allow more guest workers and an increase in employment green cards, has met with representatives from Immigration Voice. She said they put a human face on a complicated issue.

"There's been a lot of attention on border security and undocumented workers, but what Compete America's been working on and what these individuals who have been lobbying represent is the complete breakdown of the legal employment-based system," she said. "For these folks, their lives are really on hold."

Boyd added that the highly trained, well-educated workers who typically come on H-1B visas are not the type of employees America should want to send back home.

"It's a world-wide search for this talent," she said. "I would hate to think we're turning away the next Albert Einstein."

Kara Calvert, a lobbyist at the Information Technology Industry Council, said the Specter proposals would not only allow for an increase in H-1B visas but would also exempt highly educated workers, like those from Immigration Voice, from the caps on getting employment-based green cards. ITI supports the Specter measures.

"Our companies think he's on target," she said. Specter's version also would streamline the path to permanent residency for students who are getting advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math.

But Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for Numbers USA, a group that wants to curb immigration, has little sympathy for the workers who come on temporary H-1B visas who then want to stay. Her group opposes the Specter proposal.

"I did some estimates last night on the Specter bill, and his proposal, all told, would increase legal immigration by about 1 million per year, which would double it," Jenks said. That's "a bad thing if you're an American worker."

She said a greater influx of foreign workers would suppress U.S. wages and cause working conditions here to decline.

Jenks said the very existence of Immigration Voice "highlights the real heart of the problem with the Bush proposal and the Specter proposal because it shows that guests don't want to go home."

People here on H-1B visas are not replacing American workers, Quinn Gillespie's Lampkin countered. "There's a lot of hysterics about immigration," he said. "We don't produce enough Ph.D.s. Not enough of our students go into math and science and engineering. Right now, it's very clear that we need additional talent in order to fuel economic growth around the country."

Last edited by admin; 03-02-2006 at 11:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-02-2006, 11:57 AM
arihant arihant is offline
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Default Excellent!

Excellent! Please keep the wonderful work. Hats off to the core members of this group. You have achieved far more than any of us had dreamed of. Please continue your effort and hopefully others will follow suit.
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Old 03-02-2006, 12:03 PM
mdforgc mdforgc is offline
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Default Great work.. contribute more

Please contribute more and get people to join to further this. This is the best we have ever come to getting our voices heard. Kudos guys!!!
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Old 03-02-2006, 12:04 PM
baburob2 baburob2 is offline
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please continue our efforts, it is inspirational to see our progress in about 2 months to this extent. I will contribute my part by meeting lawmakers, trying to find more funds for our team.
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  #5  
Old 03-02-2006, 12:16 PM
virtual55 virtual55 is offline
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Default

Great Job DC team.


I am working with an Indian Organization and asking them to send a mass mail to all its members and also asking them to contribute money to IV.
I request all the members of IV who are members of any Indian Organizations to do the same.
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Old 03-02-2006, 12:58 PM
god_bless_you god_bless_you is offline
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Default

Excellent!!
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:11 PM
Madhuri Madhuri is offline
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Default Great Job

Great Job DC team. Hats off to you.

Virtual55,
may I know which you are using for mass mailing Indian organizations?
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:14 PM
coolstonesa coolstonesa is offline
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Default Good Work

Incredible effort by these folks.

It would have been even better if plight of people stuck with Labor backlog elimination centers (especially Philly) 4-5 yrs could also be highlighted. It was a great opportunity to do that.
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:16 PM
raydhan raydhan is offline
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Default This Is Aaaaaamazing


THIS IS PHENOMENAL. GUYS AT IV HAVE MADE UNBELIEVABLE PROGRESS IN JUST 2 MONTHS.

If lawmakers were to listen to organizations such as NumbersUSA and FAIR.org trying to curb legal immigration, most of the Engineering and Science Institutes of higher learning would have to close shop. The departmental heads and the college presidents are already at a loss to figure out, "Where are the American students?"


Good luck.

Last edited by raydhan; 03-02-2006 at 01:22 PM.
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:35 PM
laborlabor laborlabor is offline
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Default thanks for all the hardwork.

Its a great start for an organization thats just 2 months old..
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:50 PM
admin admin is offline
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolstonesa
Incredible effort by these folks.

It would have been even better if plight of people stuck with Labor backlog elimination centers (especially Philly) 4-5 yrs could also be highlighted. It was a great opportunity to do that.
coolstonesa,

We did highlight this issue very much(My labor is also stuck in Philly). If you notice, the article is a little short on the details of all the troubles that we undergo. We did explain all of that but the article seems to be concentrating more on the debate.

Still we are very happy to see the importance given to our issue.

Last edited by admin; 03-02-2006 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 03-02-2006, 01:53 PM
wellwishergc wellwishergc is offline
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Default Unhelievable!!! Guys, contribute in whatever you can

This is great news.

Guys, please contribute in whatever way you can. United, we can achieve what we are really hoping for - better our lives by removing them from "on hold". An additional 100 $ would make a difference. Or Help in any other way possible. Its time to act.

Best wishes again to the core team members. We admire your courage!!!
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Old 03-02-2006, 02:11 PM
jungalee43 jungalee43 is offline
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Default Hats off

Hats off to you. This is selfless work in true spirit. Hope thousands of others who are in queue and watching from outside would learn some thing.
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Old 03-02-2006, 02:11 PM
iptel iptel is offline
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Default No word of appreciation

Dear Folks,
I do not have any word to describe the great jobs you guys are doing. I have contributed $200.00 in addition to $150.00 in January. will continue to do the same.
To those folks who want free ride on the hard work of these please ask your concience are you still doing the right thing.
Thanks
IPtel
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Old 03-02-2006, 02:25 PM
coolstonesa coolstonesa is offline
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Default

admin, thanks for responding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by admin
coolstonesa,

We did highlight this issue very much(My labor is also stuck in Philly). If you notice, the article is a little short on the details of all the troubles that we undergo. We did explain all of that very much but the article seems to be concentrating more on the debate.

Still we are very happy to see the importance given to our issue.
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