Asian Americans are part of our country’s rich immigration history. In fact, nearly two-thirds of Asian Americans are foreign-born, and since 2010, more immigrants are from Asian countries than of Hispanic origin. Despite the contributions of Asian immigrants to all sectors in our country, there also has been a long and deep history of racist and restrictive immigration laws that prohibited Asians from immigrating to the United States, barred Asians from naturalizing as U.S. citizens, and even stripped U.S. citizens of Asian descent of their citizenship. Today, the broken immigration system makes it difficult for individuals from Asian countries to immigrate to the United States. There are no protections against profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity. More than 40% of people waiting in the family immigration backlog are from Asian countries—some waiting decades to be reunited. There are few channels that allow workers to immigrate to the United States legally, and certain visa fees have increased dramatically. Because of barriers to legal status, 1.3 million of the nation’s 11.4 million undocumented immigrants are of Asian origin living in fear of deportation. Deportation and detention policies can forcibly separate families; increase hardships for immigrant women and their children; and fail to protect women, LGBTQ individuals, and people with disabilities or mental health needs from abuse. Refugee communities face additional barriers in accessing resources and information on how they are affected by immigration policies.
• A comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system should:
1) Create a broad and simple process that provides an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including the DREAM Act to establish an expedited path for those who came to this country as young children;
2) Include the Reuniting Families Act to keep families together and reduce the visa backlog that keeps families apart;
3) Improve and strengthen avenues and protections for immigrant workers and their families to live and work in this country;
4) Ensure equal access to health coverage for all immigrant populations;
5) Ensure due process rights for all, including securing procedural safeguards for asylum seekers, and reform the detention and deportation systems;
6) Repeal the 1996 laws that removed the discretion of immigration judges and dramatically increased automatic detention and removal—without individual consideration; and
7) Support the full integration of immigrants and refugees, including removal of barriers to naturalization and encouraging broader civic participation.
• Increase Asian American enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which offers temporary relief from deportation to certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. An estimated 130,000 undocumented Asian immigrants remain eligible to request consideration of DACA.
• Support President Obama’s 2014 immigration executive actions, which would benefit approximately 400,000 undocumented Asian immigrants, by encouraging the U.S. Supreme Court to rehear the United States v. Texas case after a ninth Supreme Court Justice is confirmed. In June 2016, the Supreme Court split 4-4 and was unable to reach a decision regarding the expansion of DACA and the establishment of a Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program, which would aid parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. .
• Prohibit any profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity in immigration enforcement, including in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Priority Enforcement Program (PEP).
• Reject enforcement-only approaches to immigration, including anti-immigrant proposals and initiatives that scapegoat refugees, separate families, or increase the vulnerability of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.
More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers fought under U.S. command in World War II during the four-year battle to defend, then liberate the Philippines, which was then a sovereign U.S. territory. In 1990, these Filipino veterans were finally granted the U.S. citizenship they were promised in return for their service, but their children did not receive citizenship, leading to decades of separation due to the family immigration backlog.
• Support outreach and implementation of the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, which began accepting applications in June 2016 to allow certain family members of Filipino WWII veterans to come to the United States while they wait for their immigrant visas.
• Support the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act to provide a more lasting solution and make it easier for Filipino WWII veterans to reunite with their children.