Dear APAPA Members and Friends,
Please see below for the latest update on immigration reform courtesy of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) San Francisco.
Two weeks ago, a group of Senators released a bill that seeks to fix our broken immigration system. If passed and signed into law, our country's policies as well as its values and principles will be impacted for generations to come. It is critical that immigration reform legislation be based on the principles of fairness and inclusion. In CAA's view, there are some positive aspects of the bill. These include:
A pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The bill provides a minimum 13-year pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants through a new category called Registered Provisional Immigrant status.
A plan to clear the massive visa backlogs. The bill will clear the current backlog of 4.4 million visa applications currently choking the system and separating families from their loved ones for years, if not decades.
An expedited road to citizenship for DREAMers. The bill provides a faster process for eligible DREAMers (young people who have entered the U.S. before the age of 16) who are, by all common sense definitions, already American.
At the same time the bill has very serious problems. Among them:
Weakening of values that make immigration most meaningful. The bill replaces the current family and employment-based foundation of immigration with something that is labeled "merit". Instead of welcoming families with the promise of equal opportunity, this new approach explicitly privileges a select few based primarily on their economic utility.
Elimination of the sibling category. The bill restricts how families are defined in a manner that is inconsistent with what makes communities, including the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, vibrant and strong. In addition to eliminating the sibling category, the bill also arbitrarily limits the age of married children of citizens who can be eligible for immigration.
No recognition of same-sex binational couples. The bill unfairly denies lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families equal rights.
Excessive requirements for those seeking citizenship. The "RPI" status facing undocumented immigrants before eligibility for citizenship is unnecessarily long, and contains a host of excessively harsh requirements.
For a more detailed explanation of the Senate proposal, CAA recommends this document by the National Immigration Law Center: http://www.nilc.org/s744summary1.html