July 16, 2006
Written by C.N.
As the House and the Senate wrangle over how to come up with a compromise immigration bill — or if it’s even possible to do so — New America Media has an article that looks at how the competing bills may affect aspects of immigration that are important or more applicable to Asian Americans:
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) reports that the bill would eliminate the backlog for family-based immigrants in approximately six years. The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) . . . has pushed for this provision for the past decade. The center states that the backlog for some API families is currently more than 20 years. . . .
The bill not only affects illegal immigrants but legal ones as well. Narasaki says it would impose new barriers to naturalization, including “giving unprecedented power” to low-level agency employees to deny U.S. citizenship to permanent residents for “arbitrary reasons and through the use of secret evidence.” . . . .
The current bill not only criminalizes, detains and deports immigrants based on minor documentation and registration issues, but it also expands the list of minor crimes for legal immigrants to be deported. If the Vietnamese government agrees to accept deportees, the Vietnamese American community would be greatly affected, says Lee.
Advocacy groups say the bill threatens the multilingual and multicultural community. Lee cautions the public about a possible English-only provision, which may affect entitlement to language translations. Narasaki warns that the bill . . . encourages policies that may lead to profiling of those who do not look or sound “American,” even if they are in fact U.S. citizens.
In summary, it appears that the proposed bill would contain some provisions that are likely to help Asian Americans, most notably eliminating the backlog of family-based visa requests. On the other hand, there are apparently several provisions that may negatively impact the Asian American community, including broader powers to deport legal immigrants for minor crimes and possible cutbacks in bilingual programs.
It’s hard to predict how this will all turn out and whether there will even be a compromised bill, since both sides seem to be digging in their ideological heels at the moment. We should also remember that not all Asian Americans agree on one of the main components of the proposed bill — of granting illegal immigrants an opportunity to become American citizens.
At the same time, if there was ever a time for the Asian American community to put aside their differences in regard to arguing over whether to allow undocumented immigrants a path toward citizenship and instead, to unite against provisions that could mean deportation for minor offenses and cuts in bilingual program, now is the time.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian Americans Debate Immigration Proposals" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/07/asian-americans-debate-immigration-proposals/> ().
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