Friday, April 14, 2006

Asian Pacific Islander Americans and Immigration (HR 4437)

The Asian Pacific Islander American (APA) community is no stranger to problems with immigration law.

They have been the victims of laws that excluded them from becoming citizens, laws that prevented them from owning land and laws that prohibited them from marrying other races.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the first law to ban immigration by race or nationality in U.S. history.

Approximately one million of 14 million Asians in America are illegal immigrants. About 1.5 million Asians have applications for citizenship or permanent residence.

While the proposed immigration legislation, HR 4437, looks like toast at the moment, the harshness of the bill cannot be overstressed. For example, a student on an F1 visa who dropped below full-time status or a sacked H1 visa worker could be regarded as "criminal."

Immigrants could be denied citizenship on the flimsiest of grounds through the bill's liberal interpretation of "moral character." The "criminal" immigrants could be deported even back to nations where they could be placed in grave danger because of their political status or other reasons.

Fortunately, most nationwide APA groups have come out strongly against the immigration bill, even if the APA faces have been less visible among those marching on the streets.

The Stake for Asian Americans in Immigration Reform

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