Bill Watkins and Phil Bond
Green Card Gridlock Must End
When Congress has the opportunity to pass legislation that has wide bipartisan support, offers
tangible benefits to the U.S. economy, and comes at no cost to taxpayers, one might think it
would be a done deal. Think again. Instead, Congress has taken gridlock to a whole new level,
leaving the professional and personal lives of 1 million law-abiding, hardworking U.S. residents
in limbo, for no justifiable reason.
The people we are referring to are foreign nationals, well educated and working here legally.
They are engineers, health care providers, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs, all sharing the
same goal — to be permanent U.S. residents.
Tens of thousands of these professionals often wait for more than five years to obtain a
permanent resident visa, or "green card." They already should be permanent residents but for
government processing delays. Instead, they are unnecessarily stuck in a backlog that limits their
ability to advance professionally or start a business. That's just not good for our economy.
Studies have shown that in the last 15 years, one in four new public companies in the United
States had a foreign national as a founder. Iconic companies such as Google, Yahoo and Intel
were all founded, at least in part, by foreign nationals. Employer-sponsored (EB) green cards
allow U.S. employers to retain these highly educated professionals and enable our economy to
benefit from their entrepreneurial spirit.
This is not breaking news to all members of Congress. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, has
long been a champion of skilled immigration reforms, along with fellow Silicon Valley
representatives Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and Mike HondaD-Campbell. However, there are too
many in Congress unwilling to fix the problem.
Even though green cards and U.S. competitiveness are inextricably linked, Congress has let the
EB green card system go unchanged for 18 years. This has resulted in b