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updated: 3/22/2013 11:50 AM

The Missing Asian Voice

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Randy Kim

With the Senate in the midst of proposing its own comprehensive immigration reform legislation, many

immigrant communities nationwide, especially in the Latino communities, have mobilized together to

call for immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship. Amidst the many voices in the

immigrant communities calling for reform, one voice that has often been overlooked and forgotten is

the Asian community.

While the Latino communities are closely associated with the immigration reform movement, the Asian

communities nationwide are also severely impacted by the lack of immigration reform. According to

the Asian American Institute (AAI), 1.3 million out of the 11 million undocumented individuals are Asian/

Pacific Islander (API). Nearly half of the 4.3 million people stuck in the family immigration backlogs are

API, which Filipino siblings of US citizens wait the longest at over 20 years. The top 5 countries that

suffer from these backlogs are: Mexico, China, India, Philippines, and Vietnam.

Recently, the Senate has looked at significantly reducing the number of family-sponsored visas issued,

while increasing the visas for high-skilled workers. Furthermore, US citizens are not able to sponsor

their siblings to come to the US. With the number of API families still under visa backlogs, this will

only worsen the situation for many Asian families. While many US citizens are still waiting years to be

reunited with their loved ones, this new proposal will only worsen our immigrant communities, both

economically, and will continue to keep our families separated.

Family is the heart and soul of the Asian communities. Many Asian small businesses, such as

Laundromats, restaurants, hair and nail salons, clothing stores, are in fact, family-owned. With the

limitations of family-sponsored visas, many Asian-owned small businesses will be severely impacted.

Without the help from family members, small business owners will not be able to financially continue

their business. Without those businesses, our community loses not only its community members, but its

identity and value.

My two uncles, both US citizens, from Vietnam had spent 20+ years trying to sponsor my oldest aunt

and my youngest uncle in Vietnam, but after going through endless circles and uncertainty, they have

not been able to bring them to be reunited with our family in the U.S. Last November, my uncle in

Vietnam had passed away, with many of our family here in the US, never having the opportunity to have

a relationship with him and my aunt.

Many Asian immigrants, whether they are citizens or not, have invested their lives to provide our

communities with businesses that are a part of our identity. They have worked hard to provide

important opportunities for their children. They came to the United States because they value it as the

"Land of Opportunity", and came to make a positive difference in bettering our country's future.

With this proposal, this is a devastating blow to our hard-working Asian immigrants and citizens who

deserve to be rewarded, not punished, for their dedication to this country. Along with many Asian-

Americans and immigrants, I will not allow my voice to be silent as many families in my community

including mine continue to be separated.