Widow of slain Olathe Indian-American engineer hails House passage of H.R. 1044

Sunayana Dumala, the widow of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, an Indian-born engineer at Garmin who was shot dead at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe in a hate crime in 2017, has hailed the passage of the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act of 2019 by U.S. House of Representatives eliminating country-wise caps on employment-based immigrant visas.

“Today is an important day for many of us, a moment we have been waiting for years. Finally, our hard work and tireless efforts have come into fruition,” Dumala said in a statement July 10, alluding to the passage of the bill by the 435-member House by an overwhelming majority of365-65 votes.

“After the tragic murder of my husband, Srinivas Kuchibhotla, I lost my status to stay in the country and the immigration struggle took over my grief. And, today with HR 1044 getting passed I can finally find peace and no words can express my happiness,” she said in the statement quoted by the media.

Since her husband’s death, who was on a guest worker visa, Dumala has made multiple trips to Washington to advocate for the legislation as her own immigration status fell into jeopardy.

According to a Kansas City Star report, her advocacy led to a major victory this week for Indian-Americans and other immigrants waiting for decades for the elusive Green Card.

It noted that in the wake of her husband’s death and her joining advocacy efforts for the legislation, Dumala became “the face of legislation” to help her and other Indian immigrants take a step toward U.S. citizenship.The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.

Dumala eventually obtained a work visa of her own and was able to remain in the United States following the intervention of then Rep. Kevin Yoder. Kuchibhotla was in the queue to get toward a green card.

The new bill will not only eliminate the country-wise caps on employment-based immigrant visas, but will also increase the per-country limit on family-based visas from 7 percent to 15 percent.

House Resolution 1044 removes a per-country limit on employment-based green cards, a change that will primarily benefit highly-skilled immigrants from India and China. Dumala and other immigrants from India or China under the current system,live on temporary work visas tied to their employer.

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