Shorter wait to reunite families

Rep. Mike Honda, Democrat of California

Rep. Mike Honda, Democrat of California

By Bert Eljera

LAS VEGAS – Two California legislators, both of Asian descent, have filed a bill that would make reuniting families as the anchor of immigration reform.

Reps. Judy Chu and Mike Honda, both California Democrats, introduced the Reuniting Families Act Thursday, Feb. 14, that aims to cut down the waiting time for family-based visa applications.

It also seeks to increase per-country limits on employment visa by 15% so that nations with a higher demand for workers can better equip the American economy with talent.

In addition, it would eliminate discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and their foreign-born partners.

“As the largest group of new immigrants and the fastest growing racial group in the U.S., Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders must be heard during immigration reform,” said Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “A solution that fails to address backlogs and continues to keep families separated is no solution at all.”

Honda, who was taken to an internment camp as a kid, said the country’s family-based immigration system has not been updated in 20 years, separating spouses, children and their parents, who have played by the rules for years.”

“My proposed legislation is in line with American family values and with our need to grow our economy and save taxpayer money, Honda said. “American workers with families by their side are happier, healthier and more able to succeed than those distanced from loved ones for years on end.”

Under their proposed legislation, the wait time for a family-based visa would be no more than 10 years, instead of the years that families have to wait to be reunited under current practices.

According to the National Visa Center, there are 4.3 million people on the waiting list for family visas.

Four of the top five countries with the biggest backlogs are Asian. These are the Philippines, India, Vietnam and Mainland China. Mexico has the most backlog.

The Reuniting Families Act reduces the backlog for families trying to reunite with their loved ones by classifying lawful permanent resident spouses and children as “immediate relatives” and exempting them from numerical caps on family immigration.


“I urge Congress to forge comprehensive immigration reform. For every day Congress delays, more families face separation,” Honda said.


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