Indian American body concerned over Bush plan

By Arun Kumar


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Washington : As US president George W. Bush began promoting his plan to legalise some 12 million immigrants, an association of Indian Americans expressed serious reservations against some of its key provisions.

The bill fails to balance America's legitimate homeland and national security interests against the country's need to continue the current economic expansion of low unemployment and strong growth in the taxpayer base, the United States India Political Action Committee (USINPAC) said Tuesday.

Rather than allowing the market and American employers to determine the numbers and the types of workers that meet the employer's specific requirements, the bill provides for an Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) dictated point system for family-based immigration, it said.

USINPAC criticism came even as Bush stumped for the much-debated proposal in Georgia. "The immigration system is in desperate need for comprehensive reform, and Congress has a historic window to act," he said in a speech aimed at both reassuring and rebuking critics.

"It takes a lot of courage in the face of some of the criticism in the political world to do what's right, not what's comfortable. And what's right is to fix this system now before it's too late," said Bush.

"We're working hard to enforce the border, and we're stepping up enforcement inside the country," said Bush seeking to confront voices in the immigration debate who are "out there hollerin' and saying kick 'em out."

"That is simply unrealistic. It won't work," said Bush, who also denied that the plan gives amnesty to illegal aliens.

On its part, USINPAC said the bill before the senate makes it more difficult for H1B Visa holders, in whom American employers have invested heavily in training and talent management, from applying for Green Cards. This will devastate local economies driven by the tech-sector.

"There is a global hunt for talent and the countries and companies that will do well will be the ones that attract the best and the brightest like the US has always had," said USINPAC Chairman Sanjay Puri.

"We have a critical shortage of skilled workers here. If we can't find the workers here and cannot provide strong incentives to foreign workers to relocate here, these jobs will simply move overseas to where the talent is," he added.

Meanwhile, USINPAC has initiated a move to brief members of Congress about its viewpoint.