Washington, D.C. (Nov. 20, 2014) — Today, President Obama announced his Immigration Accountability Executive Actions to address our broken immigration system. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) and CAPAC Immigration Task Force Chair Rep. Mike Honda (CA-17) released the following statements:
Over the past year, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) has met with President Obama, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson, DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and senior White House aides, Cecilia Munoz and Neil Eggleston, to discuss the need to prioritize family in immigration reform.
Asians and Pacific Islanders account for over 40% of the 4.2 million individuals caught in the current family immigration visa backlogs and over 80 percent of those in the employer-based visa backlogs. Last night, CAPAC Chairwoman Chu attended a dinner with Congressional leaders and President Obama where she raised the Asian American and Pacific Islander community’s immigration priorities. The President’s executive action is expected to protect over one million undocumented Asian Pacific Islander individuals currently living in the U.S.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“This is a day of historic significance for millions of Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs) and immigrant families. For over a year, CAPAC has urged House Republican Leadership to bring a comprehensive immigration bill to a vote, but they have failed to do so. In the absence of Congressional action, we have turned to President Obama and asked him to take immediate steps to keep immigrant families together.
“Today’s announcement is a positive first step in that direction. The President’s executive actions will benefit many aspiring Americans, including the over one million undocumented APIs in the U.S. who are already woven into the fabric of our society. As we move forward, CAPAC will continue to push for policies that our community needs. For instance, there are still a disproportionate number of APIs languishing in our family and employment visa backlogs, some of whom have waited decades to reunite with their loved ones. We must be the voice for these individuals and others who are still in the shadows.
“In the months to come, CAPAC looks forward to continue working with the Obama Administration—especially with the new interagency Visa Modernization Task Force—to achieve a fair and accountable system for all. After meeting with the President on Wednesday night, I am confident that he is committed to working with our Caucus to address the needs of the API community. While the President’s executive action is immensely significant, one things remains certain: Congress must work together to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Congressman Michael Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Immigration Task Force Chair:
“Today, President Obama has taken an important first step towards fixing our broken immigration system with his executive action. I applaud his decision to implement programs that will delay deportations of up to 5 million people. This will make our immigration system more fair, humane, and workable. It is unfortunate that he was forced to take this action because Speaker John Boehner has not allowed the House to do its job and vote on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
“As the Immigration Task Force Chair of CAPAC, I look forward to continue working with the Administration and the new interagency group in addressing some outstanding immigration issues that are particularly important to the AAPI community, such as reducing the employment visa backlog and reuniting families. Our current immigration system has 1.8 million people from Asian countries stuck in the family visa backlogs for decades. This is truly unacceptable.
“While the President’s announcement is a great first step, what we need is a permanent immigration reform package to be passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.”
The President’s announcement to expand deferred action to parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will impact more than 4 million individuals. The Administration will also expand the current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to include more young people who were brought to this country as children. It will not matter how old they are today as long as they satisfy a certain residence requirement. This change is expected to impact 300,000 people nationally.
Overall, the President’s executive action package is expected to benefit nearly 5 million individuals. It includes long overdue improvements to our immigration system, such as narrowing our immigration enforcement priorities to focus on serious criminals and national security threats. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will also issue new guidance and regulations to reduce family separation for those waiting to obtain their green cards. DHS’s actions would expand unlawful presence waivers to those who are statutorily eligible and broaden the “extreme hardship” standard.
Senator Mazie K. Hirono, the only immigrant serving in U.S. Senate, released the following statement on President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration enforcement.
“This is a big step toward bringing millions out of the shadows to help strengthen our economy and our national security. Every single President since Dwight Eisenhower, Democrats and Republicans alike, has exercised executive action on immigration. President Obama is no different in this move.” Said Senator Hirono, “Last year the Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that I was honored to help shape. I will continue to fight for reforms that allow families to stay together, and urge Congress to take action to fix our broken immigration system.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.