Family unity: Basis for immigration reform

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Asians and Asian-Americans are growing in importance in the U.S. immigration debate.

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Any meaningful immigration reform should start with a commitment to keep families together, leaders of the Asian Pacific American community stressed on the eve of President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

U.S. House of Representatives Judy Chu and Mike Honda, both Democrats from California, said family unity is the primary concern of Asian Pacific Americans.

“Families should not be divided across continents when we know that our society benefits by keeping them together, ” said Chu, head of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), on Tuesday.

She said Asian families are hurt two ways: family break-ups through deportation of undocumented immigrants, and long backlogs for those wanting to join their families in the United States legally.

About two million of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. are of Asian descent, and CAPAC said it supports a path to citizenship based on earned residency.

“With Asians making up ten percent of all unauthorized immigrants, there is the need for a roadmap to citizenship,” Chu said.

In addition, the Asian Pacific American leaders said they support a comprehensive immigration that  “strengthen our economy and workforce, promote integration for new Americans, and establish smarter, more effective enforcement.”

The five-point approach was recently unveiled by the caucus, the leading voice of the community in the U.S. Congress.

Chu and Honda pointed out that when the annual state of the union address was begun by Woodrow Wilson more than 100 years ago, the Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect and Chinese were not allowed to enter the United States.

Now, as President Obama makes his address, Chinese and other Asians are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., according to the 2010 census.

Asians make up the largest group of immigrants arriving in the U.S., Chu said, yet they remain largely on the sidelines of the immigration debate.

“Americans and Pacific Islanders bring a unique perspective to this discussion, and without our input, the next stage in this great American experiment will be incomplete,” Chu said.

Follow Bert Eljera on Twitter @vegaspinoy60 and on Facebook at facebook.com/BertEljera

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