H1B workers stare down immigration rabbit hole that’s going nowhere till the 11th hour

Indian H1B workers in the US hoping the ongoing immigration debate will deliver a faster path to a Green Card are staring down a rabbit hole where the best case outcome will be a 11th hour deal, nothing less. Democrats are refusing to play ball with Trump's pet bill that seeks the deepest cuts to legal immigration since the Great Depression "under the guise that it's a DACA fix."

Just in at 12 noon EST, Trump is threatening to veto any bill that does not match (all) his demands.

Right at the beginning of the first full day of debate, the GOP’s irritation at the process is evident. “Nine hours down the drain on Day 1”, Mitch McConnell’s complains in his opening remarks here.

Already, the Trump White House is preparing its script for a deadlock situation - “It’s good PR for Trump heading into the midterms in November. We’re the good guys, they blocked it, they betrayed the DACA recipients” is an obvious one.

If you mix up DACA with legal immigration, we won't play ball, say Democrats/ REUTERS

If you mix up DACA with legal immigration, we won't play ball, say Democrats/ REUTERS

McConnell’s game seems fairly clear - to keep his party middle ground and then blame Democrats for sinking the Bill which, if passed, will take legal immigration to its lowest level since the 1920s although the headlines will scream "DACA". This is not DACA, this is something eerie and dark that's being slipped in under the guise of DACA is the voice of the resistance.

The much touted immigration debate is still struggling to back out of the parking lot with its path to 60 votes looking likely to die in a symphony of buck passing over the next couple of weeks.

Indians Green Card hopefuls who have made the pilgrimage to Washington DC for outreach to over 300 Senators’ offices are feeding the beast on social media with their “now or never” call but the reality on the Hill is all about coalitions in Congress and how many lawmakers on both sides belong in the ideological centre of their parties.

Staying with the India campers’ priorities, let’s go over the dominos one by one.

First up, Senator Orrin Hatch, because he’s popped the 'I Squared' Bill that’s got the H1B community energised for its many clauses that work for this community. Seen in this below picture with his buddy in the White House, Hatch is now scrambling for cover as the Rob Porter scandal explodes in Washington DC. Yet, he's done his bit for the GC hopefuls.

Local rags in Hatch’s hometown, meanwhile, are ripping apart the Senator’s impossible defence of Rob Porter.

First Trump did not want DACA mixed with the funding deal. Now, Democrats don’t want DACA mixed up with issues of legal immigration.

Tom Cotton, Trump’s favourite immigration intellectual with Harvard smarts, say this is not the empty vessel to be filled with bipartisan inputs, it’s the “best and final” deal - smacking of Trumpian vocabulary.

Opposers will lean on stories like this one by Vox saying Trump properties are being filled with foreign guest workers.

Lets vote on DACA first and then we’ll get to the other issues, says Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer meaning legal immigration clampdown cannot be part of a DACA bill.

Seeing this from a Steve Bannon kind of lens, even a no deal might just work to rile the same white voter base that pushed Trump into the White House in 2016.

Saying he does not want a "Band-Aid" approach to immigration, Trump’s statement Wednesday shows he remains committed to the hardline that marries DACA and legal immigration and call it a DACA fix: “I want to thank Chairman Grassley for introducing legislation based on the White House Immigration Reform and Border Security Framework. The Grassley bill accomplishes the four pillars of the White House Framework: a lasting solution on DACA, ending chain migration, cancelling the visa lottery, and securing the border through building the wall and closing legal loopholes.  I am asking all senators, in both parties, to support the Grassley bill and to oppose any legislation that fails to fulfill these four pillars – that includes opposing any short-term “Band-Aid” approach.  The overwhelming majority of American voters support a plan that fulfills the Framework’s four pillars, which move us towards the safe, modern, and lawful immigration system our people deserve.”

"It's a notorious piece of legislation. Let's remember even Donald Trump is a product of chain migration," say Democrats who are tearing into the terms Trump is using to "debase" the debate - "chain migration and merit based immigration".

"We are not here to debate comprehensive immigration, we're here to fix DACA because the President slapped an arbitrary expiry date on them," will be the loudest argument in the room.

This is going to the wire.

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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2018 23:31:25 IST

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