Green Card Applicants Do Like Gandhi

Staff writer Xiyun Yang writes how about 200 skilled immigrants from India sent flowers to the government's immigration director yesterday for help in moving their green card applications along.

About 200 skilled immigrants sent flowers to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. (By Xiyun Yang -- The Washington Post)

"Shyam Bindingnavale had spent years of anguish in pursuit of permanent residency, so when the government offered him an opportunity to apply for it and then abruptly snatched it away, he was furious and deeply disappointed.

"Bindingnavale, 36, a Gaithersburg resident and financial analyst working here on an H1B visa for skilled technical workers, struck back the most effective way he could imagine: He sent flowers to Emilio Gonzalez, the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. So did about 200 other green card applicants, most of them professionals, natives of India and working legally in this country.

"They did it because that's what Gandhi would have done.

"Yesterday, their bouquets of purple roses, pink lilies and yellow daisies, which cost about $40 each and which were sent from all over the country, piled up on the immigration office's loading dock at 20 Massachusetts Ave. NW, addressed to Gonzalez and stacked in columns taller than people.

"The agency forwarded them to soldiers recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

" 'We know the reason behind it and understand the symbolism. We donated them in the same spirit in which they were provided to us,' said an agency official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a lawsuit over the matter filed by an advocacy group."

By Dan Beyers  |  July 11, 2007; 6:48 AM ET  | Category:  H1B Visas
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I wonder if USCIS really understood why the flowers were sent. It was a symbolic protest by legal immigrants AGAINST the way USCIS treated them

How could they send it in the 'same spirit' to soldiers whom we all empathize with?

Posted by: SK | July 11, 2007 10:52 AM

I wonder if USCIS really understood why the flowers were sent. It was a symbolic protest by legal immigrants AGAINST the way USCIS treated them

How could they send it in the 'same spirit' to soldiers whom we all empathize with?

Posted by: SK | July 11, 2007 10:52 AM

I too hope CIS understans why the flowers were sent.
To shed some light, Dept of State and CIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service formerly INS) announced as per regular practice on Jun 12th that they will accept
permanent residency applications (last of 3 steps for green card) from a vast number of
legal immigrants waiting (for years) in line starting Jul 1st.

These applications require medical check ups and other certificates which cost time and money to gather, preparation takes around 2 weeks and thats the reason these announcements come out two weeks ahead of start date.

I spent around $4000 dollars to have applications for my family submitted on july 2nd, the first day the applications were supposed to be accepted by CIS (since jul1st was sunday). But around 11am on July 2nd DOS and USCIS made us not eligible to apply there by wasting all our effort and money. I am not alone in this, there are thousands of applicants who spent much more to file.

All we are asking CIS is to accept the application as promised initially, we are by no means asking CIS to bend rules. Please note that just accepting the application does not mean approving the applications and granting a green card.

Posted by: ST | July 11, 2007 11:22 AM

Nice Gesture. i would never waste my dime on such an ineffective/incompetent agency.
Application fees are on the rise, while their service level is on the decline.

Posted by: ty | July 11, 2007 11:23 AM

What an inspirational act.

Too bad the message did seem to have gotten lost in translation.

Just imagine what would have happened in WWII if the US would have turned away the immigrating sciencists and engineers.
How come some 50 years later, the US is struggling to see the value of inviting the world's best and brightest to immigrate here.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 11:26 AM

I'm sorry that these people were tricked
into coming to America with the promise of
a welcome and eventually a Green Card.

The fact is that H1-B immigrants were
brought here in order to replace US workers
who, in most cases, went to college and
majored in Engineering or Computer Science
in order to qualify for their jobs. The
harsh fact is that the H1-B visa program
is built on lies, and that these people
are simply not welcome in American.

Severe punishment needs to be applied to
those who created the H1-B program, and to
those who paid for the lobbyists to keep
it in place.

As for the existing H1-B workers, we need
to cut out the "Boo Hoo" stories in the
media and have an honest, public discussion
about corporate immigration fraud and
whether or not these people should be
sent home.

Posted by: Dave | July 11, 2007 2:39 PM

Excellent coverage, being a graduated one of the best engineering schools from USA, I really felt something is wrong somewhere, rather saying yes/no to H1, we need to see what went wrong with our agency

Posted by: Anonymous | July 11, 2007 2:47 PM


People are not tricked to come to America, they came here because to the world this is "The Land Of Opportunities" - don't forget we all came from "Somewhere" - if you are talking about illegal aliens that is a different matter.

These people are really smarter than you and me, work harder under the system and are the roots to take the greatness of America to the next level. They are honest and peaceloving folk who are accepted and should continue to stay and should be provided with the opportunity to live and thrive legally.

I am sure that's all they are asking for, don't confuse H1b with illegals


Posted by: Moe | July 11, 2007 4:29 PM

Viceroy Lord Wavell and his assistants laughed when M.K. Gandhi told them that one day they will be forced to leave India. What they did not understood that they were not politicians, they were bureaucrats. When the political power behind peaceful civil disobedience was unleashed, a nation took shape, and what Gandhi told Wavell became a reality.

Something similar repeated in United States recently when thousands of legal immigrants were given a cold shoulder, despite of their merit based claim for an American Green Card. They decided to apply Gandhian way of peaceful protest by sending thousands of flower bouquets to USCIS, an American agency responsible for immigration and citizenship. Instead of offering an apology, USCIS chief decided to again ignore the immigrants and simply issued a statement that the flowers will be forwarded to the injured service members recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Once again a bureaucrat miscalculated the power hidden behind a peaceful protest. Now the power behind flowers is becoming a media mainstream story. NY Times, Washington Post, Reuters, Yahoo News are a few to name. Bollywood, has recently issued a statement providing its full support to Immigration Voice, the non profit organization behind the flower campaign.
An American way of fighting injustice "A law suit" is on its way, the usual rallies and demonstrations are about to begin. However, in America, its first time after Martin Luther King Jr., that someone has tried to apply Gandhi's way to fight injustice. It is yet not clear that what would be the outcome of this campaign, but there are rumours that USCIS is already discussing internally to reverse the discriminatory decision which caused this embarrassing flower campaign against them.

Its amazing to witness that 60 years after Gandhi's demise, his ideology is still relevant. We are sure its gonna remain relevant till there are Lord Wavell's in this world. Lord Wavell's can momentarily laugh thinking that unorganized immigrants are helpless, but when the peaceful protest will demonstrate its political power, they surely will realize what Gandhi and Gandhian ways are all about.

Posted by: conchshell | July 11, 2007 5:24 PM

Just to add to your $$, I called my family from their vacation and end up spending $3000 more.
I wish I can know who is responsible for this $7K. If no one can explain this, can someone please stand up, take reposibility and just say sorry.
I beleive in Gandhi, If I can send Flowers to Emilio, Gandhi has also taught us forgiveness who stands up, accepts his fault and say sorry.


Posted by: Who is Responsible | July 11, 2007 5:32 PM

I entered this country 6 years ago and never been illegal not even a single day.I started my green card process more than 3 years ago. My problem is not about waiting. My problem is about unpredictability in waiting. I followed the process and law to the letter and spirit.

I am here to make my life better and used an oppurtunity that was presented to me in a legal way . I paid all my taxes and paid for social security that I am not eligible.

Some people will always blame others for problems in soceity . People say cheap H1B labor. I cant speak for others but I am not cheap by any means I make close to $100k P.A and whatever material wealth I have, I owe to this great country.

God Bless America.

Posted by: Legal | July 11, 2007 5:32 PM

Yes we H1B holders waiting for green cards are caught in the middle. However there have been a lot of lies spread around. I make close to $150,000 pa, and I am not cheap labor.

Given this is your country. We came here in 90s coz we thought we were welcome here.

Posted by: H1B | July 11, 2007 5:51 PM

I know that often we got accused of cheap labor and to be honest with you, I have seen that too, but those are not cheap, they are inexperienced people and they can be anyone other then Indian or Chinease and American as well.

I was cheap when I came to this country on H1B slavery but not anymore, once I worked long hours and gained more experience.

Now I too have the same fear of this low cost inexperienced but smart and hard working youngsters who started read their Kindergarden books on PC.
But accept it people, they will not cheap in future.

Posted by: Napoleon | July 11, 2007 6:57 PM

i make >200,000 pa
guess that makes me cheap too.
i have more qualification than anyone in my division. since my salary is prductivity based, i'm also more productive than most.we are trying urgently to recruit but few americans want our labor intensive specialty.
thanks anyway Dave for the sympathy- wasn't asking for any though. this protest has to do with beuracratic malfeasance by the immigration agency. and thanks for the renewed epithet. i guess i want to be expensive eventually--look forward to it

Posted by: pa | July 11, 2007 7:07 PM

I am from from the country and state of Mahatma Gandhi. My Grandfather had closely worked with Mahatma Gandhi and his movement. He is not dead, still he is in the heart of millions people around the world. Show me any library of world, where you can not find a book on Gandhi. Salute to all skilled immigrants, who participated in the flower movement. It is a symbolic message to USCIS that We wish you with millions of love and flowers that you will never have this kind of pain, which skilled legal immigrants and their families are facing. People get PhD degree in 4 years but skilled legal immigrant, who never broke the law, contributing to economy and new job creation, paying all taxes and social security is struggling for Green Card for more than 8 years!!!!!

Posted by: Raj | July 11, 2007 8:25 PM

I wish I could've send the flowers too along with a few thousand of my Indian friends. We were taken on a ride by the Chennai Consulate by refusing the H1B application. They first said they are sending the application to USCIS for a review. After the USCIS review is over and we got a positive response from them. Now the application is stuck somewhere in the state department and nobody has a clue. Same with another 1000 of us here.

Why didn't they just put a message in the consulate website that Indians are not welcome anymore. By the way most of the freshers coming into US make atleast 60K$ p.a. I dont think we are working cheap either when we've been promised a 15-20% hike for the second year.

Posted by: Hari Chinnan | July 12, 2007 4:37 AM

Gadha Kya Janay Zafrazn ki Bahar

Posted by: Sant | July 12, 2007 11:54 PM

Please note that the people who were hurt by this fiasco are not only people from India but from all over the world. I am one of them.

Posted by: Not only people from India | July 13, 2007 11:36 AM

We are not asking that America change its immigration laws.
All we are saying is that America and its nodal agency for immigration matters (USCIS), has already approved our petitions for legal immigration. They also stated that on July 2 you can apply for green card based on that approved petition, and then they flip-flopped on July 2. We are here to contribute and live the American Dream. We ask the federal government to show that it is really the leader of the free world, to stop this flip-flop and honor its word to legal immigrants.
And btw, we are not cheap labor stealing your jobs. We are working on the bleeding edge of technology and science to make America globally competitive and the world a better place to live.
We speak the language of chipsets, enterprise software systems, biochemical and biomedical technologies, neural networks, AI, fuzzy control systems,
composite materials, nano technology, cancer and AIDS research etc. etc.
Finally, we are not stealing your jobs, we are already living in the US and working on our jobs legally for the lat 5-10 years. To send us back will mean the opposite of what you desire, it would mean shipping your jobs to overseas locations.

Posted by: mb | July 16, 2007 1:37 AM

Dont play to the wrong person. Gandhiji was a not a fool to counter Hitler that time . But sending flowers is a Good start.

Posted by: Ajish | July 16, 2007 11:48 AM

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