WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 25, 2013) — President Barack Obama delivered remarks to an audience in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Monday, highlighting the importance of immigration reform for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, and urging Congress to pass immigration reform.
The President spoke to community members at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in Chinatown.
“We commend President Obama for his continued commitment to passing immigration reform,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC. “Too many AAPI families are being hurt by our broken immigration system. Some families have to wait years before reuniting with their loved ones, while others are torn apart due to increased deportations. Now is the time for Congress to pass a comprehensive solution that will unite families, create an accessible pathway to citizenship, and grow our economy.”
The President emphasized the key principles that must be included in an effective immigration bill, many of which are addressed in the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill (S.744). The current legislation, while it takes a significant step forward by clearing the family visa backlogs, at the same time takes two steps back in eliminating visas for the siblings and adult married sons and daughters over age 31 of U.S. citizens. Studies have shown-and the President today underscored-how critical family immigrants are to small business development, community stabilization, and the growth of our global economy.
The AAPI community remains deeply concerned that current legislation does not do enough to help immigrants and their families. Advancing Justice-AAJC stands with the AAPI community who rallied outside the President’s speech today to draw attention to the families torn apart because of enforcement practices. Advancing Justice-AAJC is committed to working toward fair and humane immigration reform that keeps families together and reunites those who have been split apart by our broken system.
Kiran Ahuja, executive director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, posted a blog on Tuesday about why immigration reform matters to the AAPI community. She supported the President in calling for the urgent need to pass commonsense immigration reform.
Ahuja said that her own parents are immigrants to this country from India, and that the immigration reform movement at this particular moment is personally moving. Her parents, along with many other Asian immigrants, came to this country for the power of opportunity, a chance at a good education, and where their children can go to college.
“At the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, we have heard AAPIs across the country share their immigration stories and how the broken immigration system continues to impact their families and communities,” Ahuja said. “We’ve seen the inspirational work of advocates, such as those who have been fasting for weeks as part of the Fast for Families campaign on the National Mall, sacrificing themselves to get Congress to act. Visiting the fasters last week, I was deeply moved by their tremendous passion for bringing justice to this country and their own stories about why immigration reform matters to them.
“Our broken immigration laws impact the AAPI community, as there are more than one million undocumented Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants. There are more than two million Asians and Pacific Islanders waiting abroad in family and employment visa lines. Like many, they all yearn to be full American citizens and contribute to our country’s prosperity.
“Speaking just miles away from Angel Island, President Obama reminded us about one of the defining promises of America that we are a nation where no matter who you are, what you look like or where you come from, you can make it if you try.
“The path is clear, for AAPI communities, and for all Americans: we need commonsense immigration reform. And the time is now.”