The Honorable John Boehner Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515
Dear Speaker Boehner:
January 27, 2014
On behalf of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice), we write to express our concerns regarding immigration reform. Advancing Justice is a non-profit, non-partisan affiliation that promotes a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and other underserved communities. Advancing Justice, which is anchored in California, Illinois and Washington, DC, partners with Asian American communities across the country to address the needs of Asian Americans.
- Restoring justice to immigration law: Immigration reform should fix the regressive immigration laws passed in 1996 to restore fairness and judicial discretion in immigration court. Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders are deported at a rate three to five times higher than immigrants as a whole due to these laws.
We urge you to swiftly move forward with the real business of debating and voting on actual legislation that will improve our immigration system and alleviate the suffering and hardship immigrant families experience. Asian Americans, who are nearly two-thirds foreign-born and the fastest growing racial group in the nation, are deeply impacted by our broken immigration system. It is well past time for members of Congress to discuss immigration principles.
As you and your colleagues in the House of Representatives consider legislative solutions, we wish to highlight four specific priorities for the Asian American community that must be included in any fair and humane immigration reform legislation, and should be reflected in your forthcoming principles.
- Family reunification: Asian Americans rely heavily on family-based immigration to keep our families intact. Out of the total 4.2 million family members that are sitting in the backlogs waiting for family-based visas, nearly 2 million are Asian. Our loved ones wait upwards of almost 24 years to reunite with family members in the U.S. The family-based visa backlogs must be cleared expeditiously and without arbitrarily cutting off any individuals who are currently waiting in line. Further, the family preference categories must remain intact to ensure family reunification for future generations of immigrants, including the family preference categories for siblings and adult married children of U.S. citizens.
- Path to citizenship: Meaningful immigration reform must include a direct, inclusive path to citizenship to address the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants, which includes 1.3 million Asian Americans.
- Equality in our immigration system: A final legislative solution must ensure full immigration equality by addressing the needs of LGBTQ immigrants, who are often isolated in detention and targeted for assault because of their sexual orientation. Humane immigration reform must minimize the use of detention and mandate the use of alternatives to detention as much as possible. Advancing Justice believes that all immigrants, including the Asian American community’s LGBTQ members, must be treated with dignity and respect by the immigration system.
Advancing Justice is committed to achieving fair and humane immigration reform. However, we will not accept any proposed solution that does not value our families by effectively addressing these priorities. Furthermore, Advancing Justice views any compromise solution that sanctions racial profiling, endangers families through indiscriminate detention and deportation, or militarizes our borders as misguided, overly expensive efforts that do not respect our history as a nation of immigrants.
We pledge to work with you and all members of Congress who are serious about creating an immigration system that prioritizes family unity, upholds due process, values workers, and promotes integration. Now is the time for us to all move forward with a solution that speaks to our best values.
President & Executive Director Advancing Justice-LA
Christopher Punongbayan Co-Director
Executive Director Advancing Justice-Chicago
President & Executive Director Advancing Justice-AAJC
Hyeon-Ju Rho Co-Director