API ORGANIZATIONS IN CALIFORNIA UNITE TO DEMAND FAIR & HUMANE IMMIGRATION REFORM
August 20, 2009 -LOS ANGELES, CA – In Historic Filipinotown, Asian and Pacific Islander (API) organizations called on the Obama Administration and Congress for enact fair and humane comprehensive immigration reform.
In simultaneous press conferences held in Los Angeles and San Francisco, community leaders and members kicked off the National API Week of Action, shedding light on how the immigration system affects API immigrants and their families. This week of action (August 17 to 22) uplifts API voices in the national debate on immigration reform.
Family reunification is the primary reason APIs come to the U.S., but API families suffer some of the worst immigration backlogs. “Filipinos must wait up to 22 years for an immigrant visa to join their family members in the U.S.,” said Sherwin Shakramy, Program Development Coordinator of the Filipino American Service Group, Inc. “This long separation of families is unacceptable – we want efficient and timely processing of visas that facilitate the reunification of families.”
Eileen Ma of API-Equality, Los Angeles, also states, “We need to provide a pathway to legalization for the 35,000 bi-national same sex couples currently living here. U.S. immigration policy is largely based on the principle of family reunification, allowing for the sponsor of spouses and other family members for immigration purposes. But because of a limited definition of family and the failure to recognize same-sex marriages, same-sex partners of U.S. citizens and green card holders are not considered as family. API couples are more likely to be kept apart, torn apart, or forced to stay together illegally, because of high numbers of foreign-born individuals in the API community.”