WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 17, 2013) — “The legislation is a solid starting point and contains provisions that will improve the lives of South Asians and all immigrants,” said Deepa Iyer, Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). “At the same time, there are various pieces that must be strengthened in order to truly reform the system in a way that prioritizes the needs and concerns of immigrants here now and those to arrive in future years.”
Positive measures in the legislation include the creation of a pathway to legalization, the clearing of family and employment backlogs and increase in or elimination of caps for particular visas, the inclusion of spouses and children of legal permanent residents as “immediate family members,” the creation of opportunities for workers and work authorization for their spouses and children, and a prohibition on profiling, to name a few.
We also note a range of provisions of concern in the legislation, including the cut-off date for eligibility and restrictions to benefits for undocumented immigrants; the exclusion of provisions that extend benefits to same-sex partners; the elimination of the diversity visa program and limitations of family categories (including the sibling category); harsh enforcement measures at the border, the interior and in the workplace; and profiling prohibitions that are incomplete.
“SAALT will work over the next few months to ensure that provisions in the legislation align with the immigration reform principles released by theNational Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO),” said Manar Waheed, SAALT’s Policy Director. “We look forward to offering our input and recommendations so that we may move forward towards a system that is just, humane, and benefits us all.”