Waiting for a Green Card

Conservative Republicans insist immigration reform should wait until next year when the GOP might control both the House and the Senate. Meanwhile, the White House says it hasn't given up on immigration reform in 2014.

Most of the contentious debate focuses on illegal immigration. But lost in the shouting are the thousands of skilled workers hoping to come to America where some jobs go begging for applicants. Jim Blue learned about that part of the story during his November trip with Toledo doctors providing aid to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

One of Jim's stories focused on a Philippine nurse, Flor Reyes, who had lost her home to the storm. In that story Flor said of the destruction, "It feels like zero. Are we going to start all over again?"

When Jim returned to Toledo Flor emailed him about her hopes to immigrate to the United States. So Jim put her in contact by phone with Bill Meyer, one of the most prominent immigration lawyers in Toledo.

In their conversation Flor said, "It's so difficult to come to America. I don't have any close relatives to help with immigration."

Meyer told her, "You know if you present yourself and you've got your educational credentials and you've got a VisaScreen you're gonna be considered a very attractive candidate."

Flor is a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science degree. While she earns only a few dollars a day in the Philippines, nursing jobs go unfilled in the United States. Even so, the wait for a U.S. work visa, known as a "Green Card" is seven years for nurses such as Flor. Visa rules now favor immediate family members such as spouses and children. Skilled workers, even in fields with high demand, can have a very long wait.ã??

During his State of the Union speech President Obama said, "Let's get immigration reform done this year."

Most of the high profile debate in Washington centers on illegal immigration. But even lawmakerrs who oppose amnesty say other reforms are needed to expedite legal immigration, especially for skilled workers. So House republicans favor piece-by-piece laws rather than the comprehensive reform passed by the Democratic Senate.

Lousiana Representative Steve Scalise says. "If you do say that somebody that's here illegally can jump ahead of somebody here waiting in that line. I think that does create problems for people who are playing by the rules to come here legally."

The segmented approach to legislation has attorney Bill Meyer cautiously optimistic and prospective immigrants such as Flor Reyes hopeful for her chance at the American dream.