WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 24, 2013) — In response to today’s House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security hearing entitled “Addressing the Immigration Status of Illegal Immigrants Brought to the United States as Children,” Asian Americans Advancing Justice releases the following statement:
“Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Advancing Justice) rejects proposals offered by Congress that would limit a pathway to citizenship only to undocumented youth, leaving out millions of other immigrants who have come to the U.S. in search of new opportunities for their families. Anything less than a comprehensive solution that includes a swift and fair path to citizenship for all of the estimated 11 million undocumented individuals in the United States is not enough.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have much at stake in pushing for fair and inclusive immigration reform for the entire undocumented population. An estimated 1.3 million AAPIs are undocumented and 10 percent of undocumented youth are AAPIs.
Limiting the path to citizenship to undocumented youth perpetuates the failures of our current immigration system and will continue to tear apart families and communities. Undocumented youth often reside in mixed-status families, where parents and siblings may be undocumented, have green cards or be citizens.
Approximately 5.5 million children in the United States, including 4.5 million U.S.-born citizens, live in families where at least one parent is undocumented. Nearly 23 percent of individuals deported between July 2010 and September 2012 left behind at least one child who is a U.S. citizen.
Most House GOP has not supported undocumented youth in the past, raising questions about this sudden interest. They declined to support the Dream Act in 2010, which would have provided immigration relief to undocumented youth, and earlier this year, several members of the House GOP voted to defund Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a current policy that provides temporary relief to undocumented youth.
If the House GOP truly supports undocumented youth, they will support legislation that provides relief not only to immigrant youth but to their families and communities.
On Monday, over 30 undocumented youth with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance marched on the border asking to return to their homes and families in the United States. With no guarantee of being able to return to the U.S., the youth are challenging record levels of deportations and the separation of families.
By speaking out in public, engaging in civil disobedience, and challenging unjust immigration laws, undocumented youth have fundamentally reshaped the immigration debate through profound acts of courage. Immigration reform must end the devastating separation of American families and communities.
Undocumented youth have been at the forefront of calling for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for all of the 11 million, and they will not leave their parents, siblings, neighbors and friends behind. Congress must heed their call and deliver on their promise of passing comprehensive immigration reform.