With all the discussion of immigration reform, some groups are trying to prevent the separation of families due to legal status. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) are urging the so-called “Gang of Eight” US Senators to remember the families that may be affected by their proposals and to keep certain categories of family immigration visas.
Family sponsored visas allow families to travel or remain in the country without being separated, but depending on the relation to the member sponsoring them, some may have to apply separately and possibly be denied. Eliminating certain categories of the family-sponsored immigration would only have a small reduction in visas and may have a significantly larger effect on the hardship presented on thousands of U.S. citizens, many of whom have been waiting for decades. According to Rep. Judy Chu, CAPAC chair, “Keeping families together has been a cornerstone of our immigration policy for decades.”
The Asian American and Pacific Islander community is impacted by severe backlogs with some being forced to wait 24 years to become citizens. “Rather than restricting pathways for legal immigration or redefining our concept of families, we must make family unity a priority for any immigration reform package.” It is important that our new immigration system creates the ability for U.S. citizens to sponsor their siblings and married adult children for legal permanent residence. Historically and economically, immigrants have experienced hardships created by a government that does not understand many have limited resources and a backlogged system that separates families for over 25 years. The Senate should consider working on ways to clear the backlog rather than eliminating family-based categories altogether, according to the group. Employers looking to bring talented employees to the U.S. will attract the best and brightest only by allowing them to bring their family members with them rather than breaking apart their families.
Maintaining a strong family unit for immigrants should be a priority in the debate on immigration reform. Eliminating family visas will have little impact on the U.S., but significant negative consequences on the families who could be torn apart. Rep. Alan Lowenthal says, “Families that are unified are able to thrive and contribute to the social, political and economic framework of our country.”
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