AFP, March 18, 2009
Asian-American members of the US Congress on Tuesday urged President Barack Obama to reform immigration by year end, saying the current system was tearing families in their community apart.
Mike Honda, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, wrote Obama a letter saying that immigration reform “must remain an early priority in your administration.”
“Immigration raids tear families apart, dreams of undocumented students are suspended indefinitely and growing immigration backlogs keep close family members separated for years, sometimes decades,” Honda wrote.
Honda, a member of Obama’s Democratic Party, said some two million Asians hoping to be reunited with families were languishing in the immigration service’s backlog, account for half of such cases.
He said Asian-Americans–who account for some five percent of the US population–were also concerned about the Department of Homeland Security’s past treatment of detainees and lack of due process.
During his campaign, Obama called for a more efficient immigration system, saying families were suffering from lengthy background checks for applicants, and said illegal residents should have a conditional path to citizenship.
Obama also criticized raids on immigration communities as ineffective, while pledging to security on US borders.
But Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush twice tried and failed to pass sweeping immigration reform that would have given legal status and a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country.
Some members of Bush’s Republican Party argued that immigrants were taking jobs at a time that the economy is in crisis.
Hispanic leaders have also appealed to Obama to act on immigration, urging him to call a moratorium on immigration raids and deportations.