What Joe Biden’s 15 Aug Policy Document Promises Indians in the US

Joe Biden is about to go head-to-head with Republican incumbent Donald Trump this November.

South Asians
3 min read

(This story was published on 17 August 2020 and is being republished in light of the presidential race being called in favour of Democrat Joe Biden on 7 November.)

On the occasion of India’s 74th Independence Day, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden hosted a ‘South Asians for Biden’ event and released a major policy document emphasising his administration’s commitment to Indian-Americans and India in general.

Joe Biden is about to go head-to-head with Republican incumbent Donald Trump this November.

While Trump has been criticised for his immigration policies throughout his tenure as the president of the United States, Biden has promised to do better for immigrants if he’s elected.

1. Revamping the H-B System

Biden has promised to revamp the entire H-1B system and do away with country quotas in the issuance of green cards. The H-1B visa is currently being administered in the form of a lottery to eligible high skilled workers with jobs. While over 400,000 H-1B applications, majority of them from Indian citizens are made every year, only 85,000 are selected through a computer based lottery system.

Indian immigrants have been calling for the work visa system to be merit based as opposed to lottery based for years.

Biden has not outlined specific details, but it is likely that the administration plans to do away with the lottery. He has promised to increase the number of work visas handed out every year.

2. Streamlining Green Cards

Green cards or permanent residency in the United States is based on a country quota system. That means every year, only a specific number of Indians can become permanent residents. This has resulted in severely long waiting periods, with some Indians waiting upto 15 years to become permanent residents. Biden has plans to do away with this quota and streamline the PR process on the basis of merit and time of applications. He also plans to reduce the family visa backlog, which causes family members to be separated for a prolonged period of time as they wait for visa approvals.

3. Fight Against Bigotry, Racism

The new policy isn’t just restricted to immigration. Biden has also promised to help counter the hate, bigotry and racism South Asians face in America on a daily basis. Most importantly he has promised to completely do away with President Trump’s Muslim ban. He has promised to increase prosecution of those accused of hate crimes against the South Asian community and to increase security at religious places of worship. This comes in light of devastating attacks from white supremacists at a gurudwara and a temple in America.

“My heart goes out to all those of you who have been the targets in the rise in hate crimes and the crackdown on legal immigration, including the sudden and harmful actions on H-1B visas, that for decades have made America stronger and brought our nations closer.”
Joe Biden

4. Improved Access to Govt Services

Biden has also promised to improve access to government services for those that struggle with speaking English and set up welcome centres to help smooth their transition to America. This has actually been tested in Canada and has proven to be extremely effective.

This is the first time that a democratic presidential candidate has released a policy document specifically catering to the Indian community.

America currently has 1.3 million eligible voters of Indian descent. Many of them are located in the battleground states, meaning their votes could help swing the election either way in case of a close vote.

5. Better Ties With India

Apart from just improving the lives of the Indian-American community, Biden has also promised to improve America’s ties to India.

“If I’m elected President, I will continue what I long called for, including standing with India in confronting the threats it faces in its own region and along its borders. Expanding greater two-way trades and open markets and growing a middle-class in both our countries,” Biden said.

This is not Biden’s only attempt at wooing the Indian-American voters. His running mate Kamala Harris will go on to become the first Indian-American Vice President of the country, if elected.

While many in the South Asian community are sceptical about Biden and Harris’ commitment to the Indian-American cause and remain staunch Trump supporters, others are hopeful that a new administration might ring in a new era for them.

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