The placards made clear this was not your typical immigrant rights march: “We played by the rules, now it’s your turn,” read one. “Legal immigrants keep America competitive,” read another.
High-tech workers here on federal permits are speaking out — many for the first time — over rules that leave them in personal and professional limbo.
After Congress failed to reform immigration laws for the second year in a row, hundreds of the largely India- and China-born workers protested this summer in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. They were frustrated that the divisive debate over illegal immigration had overwhelmed efforts at comprehensive immigration reform.
“I’ve never held a banner before, but I don’t know what else to do,” said Gopal Chauhan, a high-tech employee who has been waiting seven years for a green card. “We usually have better things to do, like invent the next iPod.”
Legal immigrants who feel squeezed by limits on the number of green cards issued each year are trying to separate their complaints from the protests by illegal immigrants. And high-tech companies that say they can’t fill jobs because of a cap on skilled-worker visas have stepped up their long-standing plea for the cap to be raised.