WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 21, 2013) — The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice-Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), and Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) on Monday applauded Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) for her work to strengthen our family immigration system.
As the only immigrant on the Senate Judiciary committee and in the U.S. Senate, Hirono offered an amendment (Hirono 10) that, if adopted, would have alleviated the extreme hardship some immigrants may experience due to the prolonged separation from their brother, sister, son or daughter not in the U.S. This amendment failed on a vote of 7-11.
For many U.S. citizens a sibling or adult child abroad may be the only family he or she has.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Senate Judiciary committee refused to accept Sen. Hirono’s amendment, which would have provided limited relief for families experiencing extreme hardships,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of AAJC. “We thank Sen. Hirono and the six members who stood with the millions of families awaiting meaningful family reunification. We look forward to working with the Senate on a solution that addresses all families.”
“Senator Hirono’s commitment to crafting a humane immigration reform plan that preserves families has been crucial to Asian Pacific American communities,” said Tuyet Le, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago. “However, we are disappointed to hear that the Senate Gang of 8 isn’t taking into account the enormous and incalculable benefit that our families bring to our lives.”
“The failure of the Senate Judiciary Committee to pass an amendment that would have strengthened family immigration by considering extreme hardships will have a devastating effect on immigrant communities across the country, including San Francisco’s Chinatown, that have served as a gateway community for over 150 years,” said Chris Punongbayan, ALC’s acting executive director. “We thank Senator Hirono for her work mitigating the damage to our communities caused by this unprecedented shift in our immigration system.”
Sen. Hirono also offered an amendment to allow Filipino World War II veterans to reunite with their loved ones here in the U.S., which passed by a voice vote.
“We applaud Sen. Hirono’s willingness to stand up for our communities and for leading the efforts to restore justice to Filipino veterans and their families,” said Stewart Kwoh, president and executive director of APALC. “We are gravely concerned, however, that the Senate base bill fails to recognize the importance of family unity for all immigrants and their ability to contribute to the social and economic life of the U.S. We will continue to mobilize to ensure that the path to family reunification remains open and does not exclude our brothers, sisters, and adult married children.”
The final roll call vote on Hirono 10: The AYES were Sens. Hirono, Blumenthal, Coons, Franken, Klobuchar, Leahy and Whitehouse. The NAYS were Sens. Cornyn, Cruz, Durbin, Feinstein, Flake, Graham, Grassley, Hatch, Lee, Sessions and Schumer.
For more information about actions being taken by the Senate Judiciary Committee, please visitReuniting Families for a Stronger America at: www.reunitingfamiliesnow.org.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles.