WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 29, 2013) — President Barack Obama on Tuesday spoke in Las Vegas, Nevada to outline his vision for a common sense immigration process that will benefit all Americans.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-32), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said that creating a common sense immigration process would require the Administration, Congress, and the American people to work together.
“We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants, and it is time for us to reconcile these facts by establishing a roadmap to citizenship for those who aspire to be Americans,” Chu said. “Fixing our broken immigration system is the right thing to do for our national security, our economy, and our values as a nation, and I commend the President for his leadership on this issue.
“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I stand ready to work with President Obama and my colleagues in Congress to establish a fair immigration process that honors our country’s founding principles and furthers the interests of all Americans,” she added.
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Immigration Taskforce Chair, said that a Senate bipartisan working group released an unprecedented set of core legislative principles to resolve our broken immigration system. Now, he said the President advanced this promising and historic moment by outlining a vision that embraces our nation’s long-standing traditions for protecting all families, including same-sex partners, and accepting the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
“I offer my utmost gratitude to President Obama for calling for the reunification of all families, regardless of sexual orientation, and the elimination of discrimination in immigration law against same-sex partners,” Honda said. “We must never forget the teachings and words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’.
“We must never cease to protect the rights, visibility, and equal treatment of the most vulnerable among us,” he added. “Our nation will be made stronger through reform that is comprehensive and inclusive, humane and just.”
In light of the frameworks set forth by the President and the bi-partisan group of Senators, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a coalition of 30 national Asian Pacific American organizations, welcomes a robust dialogue on immigration policy reform.
“The statements from President Obama and the bi-partisan group of Senators this week give us hope that immigration policy reform will soon become a reality. Our community members are deeply affected by every facet of our nation’s immigration laws and enforcement practices,” said Deepa Iyer, Chair of NCAPA. “Our communities also have sent the message that changes in immigration policy are critical in uniting families, accessing employment, education and health care, and living without fear of detention and deportation. In fact, recent surveys show that 58 percent of Asian Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and 54 percent of Asian Americans believe that visa backlogs is a significant problem for their families. We urge the Obama Administration and Congress to continue to work together and pass comprehensive immigration policy reform for the benefit of all communities.”
NCAPA presents its Statement of Principles on Immigration, and calls upon the Obama Administration to champion and Congress to enact humane and just comprehensive immigration reform that:
• Creates a broad and simple process that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, including young people and their families;
• Reunites and keeps families together, including same-sex households;
• Improves and strengthens avenues and protections for immigrant workers and their families to live and work in the country;
• Ensures the due process rights of all people in the United States and prioritizes human rights standards through reforms in the detention and deportation systems;
• Supports the full integration of immigrants, refugees and Compact of Free Association Migrants, including access to affordable preventive, primary, behavioral, mental and reproductive health care and other poverty reduction programs at the same level as U.S. citizens; and
• Reject enforcement-only approaches to immigration including programs that involve state and local law enforcement of federal immigration laws and state and local anti-immigrant proposals and initiatives that target immigrants based on race, religion, or national origin, separate families, increase the vulnerability of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes and harm the overall public’s safety.
U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (MN-5), who is Chief Deputy Whip and Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said that just like today’s immigrants, our founders came to America to escape oppression and ensure opportunity for their children. It’s long past due our laws live up to our values, he said, in agreeing with the President’s vision.
“I am excited to see bipartisan momentum for comprehensive reform and support President Obama’s comprehensive immigration reform proposal,” Ellison said. “Any reform proposal should have the following core tenets: a clear path to citizenship for those who are already in the U.S. working and paying taxes; an expedited process for family reunification; and a workable employment verification system with strict penalties for employers who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants.”
Ellison said that any proposal should also reform the process for accepting refugees, the aspiring Americans fleeing war, persecution, or natural disaster, and give same-sex families the same rights that all families receive.
Minnesota has the highest number of refugees per capita. Between 1999 and 2007, over 34,000 people resettled in Minnesota, from 30 different countries, he added. Over 50,000 Somalis alone, many of them refugees now currently live in Minnesota.
“Immigrants in Minnesota and across the United States contribute to our culture, our economy, and our workforce,” Ellison said. “It’s time we create an immigration system that rewards hard work and lives up to our values of liberty and justice for all.”
U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that will oversee immigration reform legislation, said she was glad to see that there is bipartisan agreement among my colleagues regarding the principles of immigration reform.
“Hawai‘i residents are particularly interested in getting this done,” Hirono said. “Our state is an example of how our immigration system can work. We are a people of many stories and cultures, and our state is stronger because of the thousands of immigrants like me who have made Hawai‘i their home.
Hirono said she would review the principles that her colleagues have agreed upon, with what President Obama says.
“In my view, immigration reform should stay true to the principles of family unity on which our immigration system was built,” she said. “Many families in Hawai‘i have waited for years, sometimes decades, for the government to allow their relatives to move here. That needs to be fixed. With immigration reform legislation, the devil is in the details, but I’m optimistic about these developments.”
National lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights organizations, including the National Center for Lesbian Rights, released a joint statement reiterating the call for a comprehensive immigration policy that ensures fair and just treatment for all those currently impacted by our failed immigration policy.
The statement read: “We are fully committed to and deeply understand the need for this nation to adopt a humane and effective comprehensive immigration policy which places a premium value on justice, dignity, respect and opportunity.
Signed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Human Rights Campaign, Immigration Equality Action Fund, and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, the statement added that, “Any legislation must include the ability of couples in same-sex relationships to sponsor their spouse or permanent-partner in the same way opposite-sex couples have long been able to under current immigration law.”