April 26, 2006
Written by C.N.
By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the massive demonstrations organized and led by Latinos around the country protesting unfair and punitive legislation being proposed to deal with the illegal immigration issue. So where do Asian Americans fit in? Although the Pew Hispanic Center reports that 78% of illegal immigrants are Latino, 13% are Asian, many of whom have different issues to deal with:
While some Asian, European and Middle Eastern immigrants are supporting calls for sweeping immigration reform, many who are here illegally have shied from the public debate either because they feel Congress has overlooked needs specific to their communities or simply because they’re afraid to come forward.
Of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, fully 78 percent come from Latin America, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The next largest undocumented population comes from Asia, with 13 percent. While all illegal immigrants could benefit from proposals in Congress that would give them a chance at citizenship, many non-Hispanic immigrants say lawmakers should take into account their reasons for coming to the country illegally.
The article notes that many Asian illegal immigrants came here as students who then overstayed their visas. It also notes that for many Asian immigrants, their biggest priority concerns being able to reunite with their parents who may be left behind as quickly as possible. Interestingly, an LA Times article nonetheless notes that many anti-immigration groups consider chain migration and family reunification immigration to be an even bigger problem than illegal immigration.
Although Asian immigrants (legal and illegal) may have slightly different priorities from Latinos, I hope that we can recognize that we do share many goals in common — humane treatment for immigrants who come to work and stay out of trouble and a fair opportunity to contribute as citizens of the strength of American society, to name just a few.
In other words, immigration reform is not a Latino issue, nor an Asian issue — it’s a human rights and civil rights issue.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asians in the Immigration Debate" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/04/asians-in-the-immigration-debate/> ().
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