A Toolkit for Advocating Against H.R. 392

Below you will find a toolkit to help you advocate against The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 (H.R. 392 & S. 281) and similar legislation when you meet with lawmakers. It will give you the strongest argument and provide you with details (what, when, why, how) that the lawmaker or staff may ask to help you respond to common questions in the best way.

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What is H.R. 392 Exactly?

The Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2017 (H.R. 392 & S. 281) eliminates per-country limits for employment-based permanent residency which will decrease the backlog for a few countries but increase wait times for the majority of nationalities. H.R. 392 was inserted into the House version of the 2019 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill in committee, though has not been added to the Senate’s version of the bill. In order to become law, the House and the Senate would need to pass this language.

Strongest Argument against H.R. 392

H.R. 392 will increase wait times for a green card by years for nationals from smaller countries. This will disproportionately impact Iranians and other nationals from Muslim Ban countries because many find themselves on single-entry visas with their families banned. This means they will remain unable to visit family, potentially up to a decade. Furthermore, the State Department has described country caps as ‘a barrier against monopolization.’

For lawmakers and the media, your personal story about how this would impact you and your hopes and dreams in the United States is your most powerful argument.

Telling a Personal Story

If you or someone you know will be impacted by H.R. 392 then tell a personal story. Explain how the changes will impact your life. Maybe your parents are older or in poor health and you need to visit them. Perhaps you have not seen your brother or sister for over 5 years and now it seems it will be even longer if you decide to pursue permanent residency. Focus on how you want to have a positive influence in the U.S. Calmly emphasize your hardships as a result of the Muslim Ban and how this legislation will only make it worse. Then directly ask the lawmaker or staff for help and express your appreciation for any efforts they make in the future.

Additional Good Arguments

  • Congress should not rush through any legislation that significantly reduces or eliminates per-country limits for permanent residency without undertaking basic steps to ensure that Iranians and other nationals that have nearly been locked out of the visa system entirely by the Trump administration are not further disadvantaged by changes ostensibly designed to level the playing field.
  • An employment-based immigration system that is dominated by a few countries may reduce the diversity of skills for high-skilled immigrants. It is important to give the best and brightest from  a variety of fields and countries the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S.

Responding to Common Arguments in Support of H.R. 392 & Questions

  • Doesn’t H.R. 392 make the immigration system first come, first serve and therefore more fair all around?
    • Answer: Legislation doesn’t exist in a vacuum and its effect will be that immigrants from Muslim Ban countries will be separated from their family for several additional years with no recourse.
  • Can’t Iranians just apply for a multiple-entry visa or for their family members abroad to receive a waiver for the Muslim Ban?
    • Answer: The consulate determines whether the number of entries granted on a visa and many Iranians are limited to single-entry visas. Publicly available information indicates that waivers under the Muslim ban receive a 2% approval rate at best.

Ensuring a Respectful Discourse: Common Arguments & Better Alternatives

  • H.R. 392 will stop all immigration from countries other than India and China. This is an exaggeration and the lawmaker will see through it. The immigration process from other countries will slow down but will not come to a halt. It is best to focus on why this slowdown will particularly harm Iranians.
  • Iranians are highly educated and the country needs them. It is good to highlight what Iranian immigrants bring to the table but it should be a side note rather than a main argument because the immigrant groups that the bill will benefit are also highly-skilled.
  • Any comment that targets a group based on their origin. Any argument that has racist undertones or speaks badly about a particular nationality is unacceptable.

Timeline (When?)

Opponents of H.R. 392 should continue to press their case through the finalization of the appropriations package in November or December in order to prevent passage.

Some legislators had hoped to finish the appropriations process prior to the end of September, raising the prospect that H.R. 392 could be included in a final spending package ahead of the November elections. However, that timeline appears likely to slip as legislators are particularly reluctant to engage in a divisive debate over funding for Trump’s border wall that is also included in the homeland security appropriation. This is positive for those in opposition to H.R. 392, as it appears unlikely that the bill would be rushed into law in September. While there is significantly less support for the measure in the Senate, which would need to sign off on the provision for it to become law, some new Senators have announced their support for the original measure (S. 281) in recent weeks.

How does H.R. 392 work?

It is not necessary to understand this section simply to advocate against the legislation. However, the more you understand the stronger your arguments will sound. Currently no single country can account for more than 7% of green card petitions in a given year. This benefits countries that already fall far below that 7% mark due to small populations or lower rates of emigration. But it creates a backlog for countries that produce a number of aspirant immigrants far greater than 7% such as India or China. Removing per-country limits will lessen the backlog for bigger countries by creating a single line for everyone but it will produce serious strains for nationals from smaller countries who will get stuck behind large numbers of nationals from big countries. This will negatively impact Iranians and other nationals already present in the U.S. but subject to the Muslim Ban. This is because wait times to file an adjustment of status application for a green card will be measured in years and potentially up to a decade for second and third preference categories, which would exacerbate the impact of the Muslim Ban by forcing applicants to choose between pursuing permanent residency or seeing family.

Current Co-Sponsors of the Senate Version of H.R. 392 known as S. 281

Below you will find a list of senators who have signed onto S. 281. Why does this matter? First, it demonstrates a renewed effort in support of the original legislation. Second, support from legislators in each party makes it appear non-controversial.

Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]

07/12/2017

Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]

09/26/2017

Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]

03/19/2018

Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]

03/22/2018

Sen. Harris, Kamala D. [D-CA]

06/19/2018

Sen. Moran, Jerry [R-KS]

06/21/2018

Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND]

07/23/2018

Sen. Carper, Thomas R. [D-DE]

08/16/2018

Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]

08/16/2018

Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]

08/16/2018

Sen. Cantwell, Maria [D-WA]

09/04/2018

Who Should I Meet With?

You should meet with your Congressional representative for the district you live, work, or go to school in and also the senators who represent your state. You can use this website to find out who represents your area: https://whoismyrepresentative.com.

Meeting with Republican Offices

When meeting with Republican offices it is still important to make the Muslim Ban the primary focus of your argument against H.R. 392 but it is best to refer to it as the ‘travel ban’ which is the language typically used by Republicans. Additionally, it is best to reference your eagerness to pursue the economic opportunities and freedoms that the U.S. offers. If you received your graduate studies here then perhaps mention that you want to invest back into the country that provided you with your education. Always circle back to the way that H.R. 392 combined with the Muslim Ban will make these pursuits extremely difficult and separate you from your family indefinitely.

Week of Action

NIAC will organize a week of action to be held October 15-19. It will involve calling office directly, meeting Congressional staff in DC and respective districts, and delivering a petition. This effort is key in demonstrating a large and organized opposition to the legislation. Email Donna@niacaction.org for more info.

Sanction Stories

The snapback of Iran sanctions, which went into effect on August 6th, 2018, has had an immense impact on the Iranian and Iranian-American community. These sanctions effectively punish 80 million ordinary Iranians, who are being plunged into economic misery and denied basic necessities such as life-saving medicine and safe civilian aircraft. Members of our community shared how sanctions have impacted them and their families.


Katy

I am Iranian American and my husband is Cuban American and we have both witnessed first hand what sanctions do. They harm ordinary people and not the intended target. They never result in regime change and in fact bolden the regimes. Ordinary people suffer and their suffering doesn’t cause an uprising. History has shown this again and again. Diplomacy is the only way and it has to be done with mutual respect of all sovereign nations. Bullying is unproductive.

[This photo is] from January 2018 in Kashan with my sister. Travel ban and sanctions have directly impacted us. My family cannot visit us here and the inflation in Iran makes travel very expensive outside of Iran. The photo is symbolic to me. It’s like a window into a brighter future with beautiful Iran in the background. Peace is possible.

 

 

 

 


Meisam

My grandmother who is in Iran has chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Over the past few months that there has been a threat of sanctions being reenacted. She has been unable to get ahold of her chemotherapy drugs. None of the pharmacies are carrying it or have a supply more than a few days or a few weeks. My father has called me and told me that she lives around in bed all day and has severe fatigue and has lost 30 pounds in the past two months. They are going to see her oncologist to see if they can change her two other agents that may be available in the country.  As a physician who treats patients like this daily in the United States I feel guilty that I am helpless to take care of a loved family member back home. Sanctions hurt ordinary people on the streets and do not inflict pain at all whatsoever on the government. How is withholding chemotherapy from my 80-year-old grandmother helpful to anyone’s objective?

 


Sanaz

My parents and other family members live in Iran. My aunt (pictured to right) has cancer and she has to do chemotherapy via injection every 3 weeks for the rest of her life in order to stay alive. Her chemo medicine is not made in Iran and is only imported. She says her medicine will no longer be available due to sanctions. She is very depressed and hopeless. She has been crying every night that her life has come to an end! She has kids and grandkids and she wants to be with them longer.

 

 

 

 

 


Kianoosh

Due to the constant uncertainty in the state of economy caused by U.S. sanctions against Iran, my family members are feeling the pain of high prices. My brother and his wife who are both physicians are thinking of immigrating to Australia since their affordability for living in Tehran has decreased just recently. Iran is losing its population to emigration. Officials that do not like people come to their country should let other countries prosper in their own way, then their residents will never wish to leave their own home country at the first place.


Azadeh

The impact of sanctions is hard on my family and myself. I have two elderly parents that are on a lot of medications for various medical reasons. They live on my dad’s pension which hardly cover their daily expenses. Their medicines are expensive and my brother who helps them out has to buy them in black market when sanctions are in place, that is if he can find them. I used to be able to help them out by sending vitamins and some other products they needed but since summer of last year I have been unable to send anything as USPS informed me that we are banned to send any packages to Iran not until we get an exporting license! I worry about them every single day and I live in the horror of what’s going to happen to them if something like Iraq and Syria’s situation take place in Iran. I live with this nightmare every day. I lived through the horrors of Iran-Iraq war before coming to the US in 1986. I went through two surgeries under total blackout and bombings as the only light available was coming from the hospital’s generators. The patient’s bed was dragged into the corridors of the hospital from the rooms so that they can turn the lights off and close the doors, isolating everybody in the hallways. My family went through incredible hardships and sacrificed so much to send me out to get an education and survive. Today, I am an educated, successful professional and a US citizen and would like to exercise my civil rights and implore my representatives to do all they can to try to reverse these sanctions on Iranian people, because it’s only the ordinary people who suffer, and more importantly, to prevent war! I would like to ask them to do their best to stand up to this administration and its inhumane and anti-democratic practices. People of Iran are deserving of peace and prosperity as are all the people in the world.


Mary

I have a sister who is single (her husband passed away at a young age). I work 2-3 jobs (and pay taxes) to support her, because she has a son who has brain damage after a car accident & has shunt implantations in his head. You can imagine how they are in need of medical care all the time. These sanctions will be devastating for Iranian people who are like my sister and her son.

When my nephew (pictured) was a baby and after the car accident, the sanction of those years affected him and maybe, if it was not for the sanctions, he would not have ended up with a permanent injury.

They took him to the best hospital of those days, Shiraz Namazi hospital. But a lack of equipment, medication, etc caused delay. As a result, he was brain damaged and the right side of his body is not working. I traveled to Iran after that accident and saw how the hospital did not even have enough sanitary papers to change for each patient. They were using them with blood of previous patients still on them.

And now, my nephew is facing another round of sanctions. He is always in need of stuff that is imported to Iran from abroad and now it will stop.

I came to this country legally in 1981 with two kids from UK, where I was going to school, and with no money. I am from Ahwaz, and because of the war, I could not go back. I have worked three jobs, never receiving government help in this country, and raised two successful boys and helped my sister as well.

I have been told “you are from Iran, we can’t give your father visa” when my father applied to come and just visit us. I lost him in that car accident and never saw him.

I am trying to show the effects of discrimination against the everyday people of a country, when policies affect only the average citizens and not the ones in power.

Shah, Khomeini, Rouhani, Khamanei, all the mullahs or any other groups are in power, none of them are affected by these horrible games politicians are playing. Only the average Joe. These Mullahs in power and their families, if they get sick, they have enough power and money to go to other countries and get fixed.

I have nightmares of the old sanctions and what I had to go through to send stuff to Iran for my family. I am furious with all going on and scared for the Iranian people.