Former envoys urge US Congress to remove India-specific immigration barriers

ImmigrationEnvoys say the bill unfortunately differentiates between US & Indian providers of IT services. (Reuters)

Five former US Ambassadors to India have requested the Congress to remove India-specific discriminatory provisions in immigration reform, underscoring that continuation of such steps would have an adverse impact on the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

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In a letter to top lawmakers, these former envoys observed that American competitiveness and vitality depend heavily on robust US-India commercial ties.

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They further said any comprehensive immigration reform legislation approved by the Congress needs to appreciate the mutual benefit of deepening the bilateral partnership, which is vitally important to the two countries and global economy.

The letters were addressed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives John A Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The letter was jointly signed by former US Ambassadors to India Ė Thomas Pickering, Frank Wisner, Richard Celeste, David Mulford and Robert Blackwill.

"While we believe that the US Congressional efforts to further Comprehensive Immigration Reform can be of great benefit, we are concerned that the high-skilled visa provisions in legislation currently contemplated by the Senate are not in US economic interests and they complicate our relations with India," they said.

The US India Business Council (USIBC) and the recently formed Coalition for Jobs and Growth worked with these five former US Ambassadors to India to reach Congress about American jobs and competitiveness.

The letter comes ahead of the scheduled meeting between the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 27.

"We hope the visit of PM Manmohan Singh and his meeting with President Obama will reinvigorate the†US-India ties, prompting the US Administration and Congress to take a second look and eliminate specific discriminatory provisions in the immigration reform bill, which will hurt American competitiveness and damage US-India commercial ties," USIBC president Ron Somers said.

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