In Pursuit of the “Dream”: We Reflect and Recommit

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Photo Credit: Bao Lor, SEARAC

Today marks the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. This past weekend, to commemorate this important occasion, Asian American organizations joined thousands of people who gathered in the nation’s capital to participate in a march and rally titled, “National Action to Realize the Dream March”.. The purpose of this march and rally was not just to remember the legacy of Dr. King and the progress since his speech over 50 years ago, but to show that even today in 2013, inequality persists.

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

SAALT staff rallying in solidarity

Among the Asian American organizations present at the March were representatives from SAALT, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) and Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM). And as part of the program on Saturday, Jasjit Singh, Executive Director of SALDEF spoke and shared the stage along with other civil rights leaders.

The work still continues, especially within the South Asian, Muslim and Sikh communities when it comes to decreasing hate crimes, discrimination, harassment and racial profiling following 9/11, and the tremendous disparities within South Asian communities from the standpoint of access to educational equity, jobs, and health care.

SAALT Programs Intern and recent graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, Victoria Meaney, reflected on the significance of the March, “Attending the 50th Anniversary March on Washington was monumental to me as a South Asian American. My ability to participate, in collaboration with SAALT really exemplifies the progress that has been made, based on the work of individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Their examples show the importance of the individual’s voice, and, by allying with others, the steps to a just society are possible. My hope is that future marches to come will have an even greater representation of South Asians and Asian Pacific Americans, because civil rights belong to all, but we will not be heard if we do not advocate for ourselves.”

We marched and rallied in solidarity for jobs, justice, peace and equality along with Americans of all races, faith and backgrounds.

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

In giving her reasons for the importance of this March, Roksana Mun a DRUM Youth Organizer reflected on the theme of the March in 1963, which was “the need for jobs and the ever growing economic and social inequality between people of color communities and white communities”. And today she notes, “…we’re living at a time when the same exact issues of working-class, people of color are struggling to find jobs, decent pay (or in many cases any pay), increased cuts to education, health care and social service systems still persist. The Poor People’s March is still needed”

We showed that even though 50 years has passed since Dr. King’s speech calling for equality and justice we still have yet to pursue that dream.

As Fahd Ahmed, Legal and Policy Director of DRUM states, “It was important for DRUM to have a presence at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington because we have directly benefited from gains made by the Civil Rights movement. Both in terms of actual rights, won, such as the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, but also in having learned strategies and tactics. Our current struggles for immigrant rights, racial justice, and worker’s rights, are a continuation of that legacy.”

Let us reflect and recommit as SAALT Executive Director, Deepa Iyer, notes “South Asians are indebted to the civil rights movement and the African American leaders and community members who marched today 50 years ago. The pivotal anti-discrimination and immigration laws that were enacted in 1965 have preserved the rights of millions of people of color and immigrants. Now, 50 years later, South Asians must continue to be a critical and visible constituency in the ongoing struggle for equity.”

So today, on the actual date of the March on Washington, as we commemorate Dr. King, his legacy and the struggles that were endured to defend our civil rights, let us not forget that problems still persists and that we are still in pursuit of the “Dream”.
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AuriaJoy Asaria
Communications and Admin Assistant
South Asian Americans Leading Together, SAALT

Supreme Court Watch: United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry and the South Asian Community

On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court issued its opinions in two critical cases involving the issue of marriage equality. In a landmark decision, United States v. Windsor, the Court invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage as between “one man and one woman” and only recognized opposite-sex marriages for purposes of federal law. Following the enactment of DOMA in 1996, same-sex partners were denied federal benefits, including those under federal tax, housing, Social Security, and immigration laws, and exclusively granted them heterosexual married couples. Prior to the decision in Windsor, denial of such benefits was allowed, even if couples lived in individual states that recognized their marriage. In its decision, the Court found that DOMA violated principles of “equal liberty of persons” enshrined in the 5th Amendment. (It is important to note that the Court did not rule on Section 2 of DOMA, which permits individual states to enact legislation that refuses to recognize marriages between same-sex partners.) In a separate case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal to reinstate Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed by California voters in 2008 that prohibited marriage between same-sex partners and was subsequently barred from being enforced by lower courts, on the grounds that those seeking appeal did not have the legal standing to do so. As a result, the lower court ruling preventing the enforcement of Proposition 8 remains intact.

As an organization that has long supported marriage equality, SAALT applauds the rulings by the Supreme Court in these two cases. In particular, the Windsor decision will positively transform the lives of South Asian Americans involved in committed relationships by ensuring that they can no longer be denied vital federal benefits simply based upon whom they love or marry. This decision also paves the way for the South Asians in same-sex binational marriages (recognized by the state or country where they were married) to avail themselves of federal immigration benefits, including the ability to sponsor their spouse under the family immigration system and petition for loved ones living abroad. For too long, couples in this situation have lived in a perilous legal limbo, as we discussed in a recent oped. Such uncertainty often results in individuals overstaying their visas to remain together or living abroad in exile. SAALT commends the Court’s decisions to reaffirm the principles of equality and fairness and looks forward to working with federal agencies to ensure that community members will be able to access the federal benefits provided to them as a result of this ruling.

For further information on the Court’s decision on DOMA will affect eligibility for various federal benefits, check out the ACLU’s website here.

For further information on how the Court’s decision on DOMA will affect immigrant families and couples, check out Immigration Equality’s FAQ.

SAALT thanks Priya Murthy for her assistance in providing analysis and writing.

287(g) and Morristown, New Jersey

A dispatch from SAALT’s New Jersey Outreach Coordinator, Qudsia Raja, on state and local enforcement of immigration laws and what it means in NJ.

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As advocates and communities nationwide mobilize to campaign for more just and humane immigration laws in the US, New Jersey residents prepare to cope with the actualization of tentatively discriminatory mandates that will, if put into place, adversely affect the immigrant community in the state. 287(g), a federal immigration program initiated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), allows for local law enforcement agencies to go beyond their call of duty of enforcing local and state laws by additionally allowing them the liberty to enforce federal immigration laws.

Earlier this year, several counties in New Jersey, including Morris, Hudson, and Monmouth Counties, applied to become a part of the 287(g) program. Morristown was approved for the program last month, and Mayor David Cresitello has every intention of signing onto the program, which would be in effect for 3 years.

The idea of deputizing local law enforcement agencies has long been controversial, with strong advocates on both ends of the debate holding firm to their beliefs on whether the program should or should not be put into place. SAALT, like many other immigrant advocates locally and nationwide, believes that 287(g) does in fact negatively impact the immigrant community at large. By deputizing law enforcement, we would essentially be creating a barrier between law enforcement and the communities they are sworn in to serve – an irony so obvious that I can’t seem to understand why some public officials are so adamant about putting the mandate into place.

Consider this. New Jersey is not only home to a large, diverse, and emerging immigrant community, but also thrives economically because of the contributions of this very community, according to a report published earlier this year by Rutgers University. As an emerging community, however, coming from numerous cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, it’s important for us as public officials, advocates, service providers and community members to be mindful of the needs of our fellow community members. These needs could range from being aware of cultural and linguistic needs in accessing basic government and public services; navigation the school, medical, and legal systems; and addressing racial and religious discrimination targeted towards immigrant communities, often more vulnerable when they are unable to communicate because they are limited-English proficient (LEP), or because they are unaware of the proper channels available to them to report incidences and crimes of the sort. Additionally, many immigrants migrate from countries where the rule of law is often corrupt, making them fearful of approaching (or being approached by) law enforcement.

287(g) has been criticized by immigrant advocates for many justified reasons, one of the most disconcerting being that the mandate would allow for local law enforcement to essentially profile immigrant constituents in the process of making arrests based on ‘suspicion’. It will detract from their job of keeping the peace in local communities and protecting constituents by creating a sense of fear amongst the immigrant community of being rounded up by the police based on the color or their skin, or the accents in speech.

Recently, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram issued a strongly worded letter to Hudson, Morris, and Monmouth County officials warning them to not use 287(g) as a mechanism to racially profile constituents. Additionally, she made clear that the mandate does not allow for sweeps or ‘on-the-street-encounters’, where law enforcement uses round ups as a means to conduct immigration checks, and that any incidences of violating NJ laws will be dealt with by the AG’s office.

All that aside, though, what does it really mean to be an immigrant in New Jersey, where 287(g) may tentatively be put into place?

Imagine this. You are an immigrant mother of two. You speak limited English, and rely on your husband to deal with the intricacies of life outside of your home. You have been in this country for many years, and your children are enrolled in the local school system. Your husband sponsored you to migrate to this country when you first married. You find yourself in an abusive relationship, and consider reaching out to the police to intervene. However, your husband tells you that reporting him to the police will result in your deportation, that they’ll take away her children and she’ll never see them again. So, you weigh out the pros and cons, and somehow justify staying in a violent marriage for the sake of your children, and for the fear of being deported back to your country of origin, where you may face even more violence for leaving your husband. Somehow, the thought of daily violence isn’t as bad as the thought of approaching the police, the threat of deportation and separation from your children looming overhead.

Imagine this. You are a second-generation immigrant. You are Muslim, with a very common first and last name. You are driving late at night on your way home, and you are pulled over because you are speeding. Along with your license and your registration, you are asked for your immigration papers – something you don’t carry around with you, because you are a legal resident and you tell them this much. You are asked to come to the station. You grudgingly comply, thinking of it as an inconvenience, but that you will be out as soon as they run your name through the system. Your name, a common one, shows up with some alarming news attached to it. You tell them it’s a mistake, and that you are in fact not that individual. You are detained for several hours, perhaps days, as they sort out the situation and realize that you are in fact not who they think you are. In the meantime, you are not allowed to make a call to family members or a lawyer, and no one knows of your whereabouts. You are told that this is normal procedure – a criminal until proven innocent. You are let out eventually, but with a bitter taste in your mouth in regards to local law enforcement. You know you will think twice about approaching them should a problem arise in the future, if only to avoid the painful and humiliating process they have just subject you to.

Imagine hundreds of other scenarios that immigrant constituents will face should 287(g) go into affect. Imagine being racially profiled and being treated like a criminal. Imagine being fearful of the police when you need them most, when you are placed in a dangerous situation, but the fear (be it real or imagined) of being deported holds you back from calling for help.

Is this the sort of community you want to be a part of?

Death in Detention: Tanveer Ahmad

Here’s a case for you to ponder about. When you first read it, you might not think it that sympathetic. But, by the time you read the end of this post, maybe you’ll change your mind.

The New York Times recently reported on the story of Tanveer Ahmad. He came to New York City from Pakistan on a visitor’s visa. In 1997, he was arrested for possessing an unlicensed gun. He married U.S. citizens and applied for marriage-based green cards to stay in this country. His wife was threatened with marriage fraud allegations by the government. Immigration authorities later caught him in 2005 for overstaying his visa and detained him because of his gun offense. A few weeks later, he died in detention in New Jersey.

At first blush, you might be thinking, “Hey, the government should be going after these criminals! Why should I care that he got locked up and happened to die?” After all, the latest buzz word within immigration enforcement circles is to go after “criminal aliens”, right? But dig a little deeper into the facts – things aren’t quite that cut and dry.

What’s the most shocking about this case? Is it that Mr. Ahmad showed his gun while preventing a robbery at the gas station where he worked the night shift and that had been held up 7 times in about a month? Is it that following 9/11 his U.S. citizen’s wife’s friends said, “You better watch it. You may be married to a terrorist,” causing him to always watch his back? Is it that he was detained nearly 10 years after his offense even though he paid the requisite $200 fine for the misdemeanor? Is it that his arrest was considered a “collateral apprehension in Operation Secure Commute” as part of the government’s sweep of immigrants overstaying visas following the 2005 terrorist attacks in London? Or is it that when he suffered a heart attack in detention, the jail guard reportedly blocked medical attention for one hour, even after the jail received numerous previous complaints about detainee abuse and neglect?

I’ll leave it to you to decide. But remember that our immigration and detention policies can change to become more humane. In fact, there is a bill in Congress known as the Immigration Oversight and Fairness Act (H.R. 1215) proposed by Congresswoman Roybal-Allard of California that would codify detention standards and improve medical care for immigrant detainees.  In my mind, such a case should not have come to this, but, sadly, it did. And we can let Congress know that through policy reform, hopefully, they won’t happen again.

(Check out this previous article in the NYT on this story, too.)

Immigration, Appropriations, and Frustrations

Well, there is no other way to say it. This past week has been a tough one when it comes to immigration. The Senate, through recent amendment votes, put their stamp on policies that focus on prioritizing enforcement rather than just and humane solutions to fix the broken immigration system.

Below is a quick round-up of legislative activity of the past week. But, as you read this, keep in mind that, if they become law, these policies will definitely have a negative impact on the South Asian community … in ways that you may not expect. Prioritizing enforcement means that hardworking undocumented immigrants (of which there are many South Asians; in fact, Indians alone made up the 10th largest undocumented population in the U.S. in 2008) will be further relegated to the shadows out of fear of apprehension by immigration authorities. But it also means that many lawfully present immigrants may inadvertently also be caught up in the web of enforcement. Take a look for yourself; the impact may surprise you …

During debates on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Bill (which is basically legislation that allows the government to spend money with regard to the Department of Homeland Security), several anti-immigrant amendments passed, including:

  • SSA No-Match Program: An amendment passed preventing funds from being used to rescind the much criticized “SSA no-match rule.” (By way of background, letters are sent by the Social Security Administration to employers when Social Security numbers provided by employees do not match government databases. Under the rule, immigration authorities could use these letters as evidence than an employer should have known than an employee is not authorized to work.) You might think the rule sounds good in theory. But, how good can it be when the databases used are know to be inaccurate and could net a range of workers, regardless of status? Or when a federal court stopped the rule from being applied? Or when even the Department of Homeland Security itself just announced it would rescind the rule? It doesn’t make much sense.
  • Making E-Verify permanent and retroactive: E-Verify is a pilot employment verification system that certain employers use to check the work authorization of their workers. Again, this might sound good to you in theory, but one major problem with the program is that it relies upon databases with unacceptably high error rates. (Wanna know more? Check out this resource by the National Immigration Law Center for more info on what’s wrong with the program.) Instead of pausing for a moment and assessing the problems that exist within its databases, the Senate instead passed an amendment making the program permanent for all federal contractors; in addition, they mandated that all employers currently employing E-Verify to use it on ALL employees, no matter when they started. Can you imagine working for a company for over 20 years – even if you have work authorization – and your name somehow pops up as being ineligible due to database errors or name mix-ups and then you face possibly losing your job all because of this? It’s a frightening prospect.
In these difficult economic times, South Asians – like all other Americans – fear losing their jobs and have difficulty getting by. If flawed programs like the SSA No-Match Letters and E-Verify are left unchanged, South Asian workers stand to lose, regardless of immigration status. Measures that not only hurt immigrants, but also the economy, don’t make sense – call your members of Congress and urge them to support just and humane immigration reform rather than settling for obstacles towards real solutions.

Helping ICE Doesn’t Mean They Won’t Turn Around and Deport You Anyway

Thanks to RaceWire, where I found the following story: A Pakistani man had overstayed his visa when he was contacted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who enlisted his help in gathering evidence against a paralegal filing false immigration claims. In exchange, they promised to help him stay in the country and possibly get a green card. The paralegal was eventually indicted, I’m sure in no small part due to his efforts. He then went on to help ICE agents gather information about terrorism-related activities at a local mosque. How does ICE repay him? Giving him false information about his deportation order and, now, readying itself to deport the man who had helped them.

Taken with recent revelations about law enforcement initiatives to place informants at American mosques, and the resulting betrayal of trust for the American Muslim community, this story shows the complicated relationships between national security, immigration and the American Muslim community. American Muslim organizations have repeatedly stated that it is important for law enforcement agencies to build relationships with the community in an open and honest manner. Moreover, the community is committed, like all other communities, to contributing to a strong and vibrant American society that affirms principles like religious freedom and equality before the law. To see someone who went out of their way to help ICE agents, no matter how questionable the activities, abandoned by the agency and facing deportation puts a human face to how this truly complicated system is failing people.

Read the whole story here.

Read the Islamic Circle of North America’s statement opposing FBI informants (you have to scroll down past the first statement).

One Community United Kickoff Town Hall in Atlanta

From Niralee, one of our amazing summer interns:

On Tuesday, June 16th, SAALT’s Executive Director Deepa Iyer, along with NCSO partner Raksha, Indus Bar, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, and Khabar, launched the One Community United campaign with an inaugural town hall in Atlanta. The event was the first in a series of community forums to be held throughout the country as part of the campaign.

The town hall took place at the Global Mall in Atlanta on Tuesday evening, and about forty people attended the event. The group was very diverse, including representatives of South Asian organizations, local students and community members, and members of local places of worship.

The heart of the discussion was immigration and human rights. From the very beginning, participants eagerly engaged in the discussion, addressing issues ranging from the rights of immigrant workers, to detention and deportation, to the reunification of families. Participants also discussed how the human rights of immigrants are often violated in this country. The event closed with a call to action, encouraging participants to contact their representatives in Congress, stay in touch with organizations working with the South Asian community, and stay up to date on immigration issues.

Many who attended walked away feeling inspired to take action on immigration reform in their communities. Vandana said, “The town hall was extremely eye-opening and thought provoking… I am going to chalk-out a plan of action… and definitely contact some people that I know will share the same enthusiasm for the [Be the Change] project.” Noshin, a representative of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, said he would “keep up with bills introduced and contact [his] representatives “ and “share [his] immigration story with SAALT.” Many others expressed a strong desire to go back to their communities and address the issues discussed at the town hall.

SAALT left the event looking forward to future town halls, to be hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New Jersey, and Washington DC. It was great to see so many Atlanta community members coming together to express their support for immigration reform. Overall, the event was a very exciting kick-off for SAALT’s One Community United campaign.

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

More Reflections from Atlanta Town Hall for Civil and Immigrant Rights

Here are more reflection on the kick-off town hall in Atlanta, GA of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations’ One Community United campaign for civil and immigrant rights. This time we’re hearing from Nureen Gulamali, intern at ACLU-Georgia  (one of the cosponsors of the town hall):

I’m lucky to be interning at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia this summer and was grateful to be a part of the SAALT/ACLU forum.  After attending the Immigration Forum, my perspective has been enlightened and truly widened.  Immigration is a hot topic in today’s world – tell me something I don’t know.  But how it affects the actual immigrants is truly the issue at hand.  I’ve heard accounts of the trials and tribulations that so many people have had to go through in order to get a better start in this world, and my heart goes out to them.  The forum itself not only provided more information to the uninformed, but allowed for a healthy and knowledgeable discussion for both the informed and uninformed.  It’s so important to stand up for what is right and immigration rights are, in essence, human rights.  What knowing individual wouldn’t stand up for human rights?

So, I suppose the more important question is, what can we do about it?  Well, really, everyone who was able to make it to the forum has already taken the first step – stay informed.  It’s as simple as that.  You can make a difference by staying informed, whether that’s catching up on the current issues on Google News, or joining a human rights advocacy group (GA Detention Watch, Human Rights Atlanta, Raksha, SAALT, etc.).  The more allies we have, the bigger the impact we can have – not to mention strategic pull.  So, take ten minutes a day to read what’s going on in the human rights/immigration front and from there, I swear, it will be plenty easy to get involved!

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

The Importance of Family

Family has been on my mind lately. This week is the midway point between the Mother’s Day and Father’s Day celebrations. My sister just had a birthday. And I prepared for the mad rush of in-laws coming into town over Memorial Day weekend. Despite my secret (and some not-so-secret) grumblings about all the phone calls that had to be made, gifts that had to be bought, and accommodations that had to be prepared, I feel extremely lucky. I’ve been fortunate to know that loved ones in my family are here with me in this country and I can simply hop on a short flight to see them.

Sadly, many South Asian immigrants in the United States do not have the luxury of living in the same country as their spouse, parents, or siblings. South Asians heavily rely upon loved ones in the United States sponsoring their admission into the country. Yet, due to numerical limitations on visas and bureacratic delays, many have to wait years to have their immigration applications approved to be reunited with family members. Here are a few dates and numbers as food for thought:

  • 5.8 million: Number of immigrant applicants waiting for a family visa
  • 211,574: Number of Indian, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani applicants waiting for a family visa – in fact, these three countries rank among the top ten countries with the highest number of applicants on the waiting list
  • 1998: The year a sibling in India of a U.S. citizen must have filed an application to be processed today – that’s eleven years!
Often, even spouses and permanent partners are separated from one another. Take, for instance, the story of Vivek Jayanand, an engineer and green card holder in Silicon Valley. He has to wait almost five years before his wife, Neethu, can get her own green card. Even if he becomes a citizen, which could speed up the sponsorship process, he would still have to wait three years. And it is almost impossible for her to get a tourist visa to even visit him in the U.S. So, that means they spend years living separate lives all because of an outdated and inefficient immigration bureacracy.

Fortunately, pending legislation such as Congressman Honda‘s and Senator Menendez‘s versions of the Reuniting Families Act will alleviate the visa backlog to help those like Vivek and Neethu. As momentum around immigration reform builds, it is important for South Asian community members to weigh in with members of Congress about the creating a just and humane immigration system that keeps families together.

The Reuniting Families Act

Today, Deepa (SAALT’s Executive Director), Priya  (SAALT’s Policy Director), and I attended a press conference on Capitol Hill where Congressman Michael Honda introduced  the Reuniting Families Act, a bill that advocates hope will become a key component of broader immigration reform in Congress. Leaders from a diverse array of various immigrant and civil rights organizations and faith communities attended the conference to express their support for the bill, including Hilary Shelton from the NAACP, Karen Narasaki from the Asian  American Justice Center (AAJC), Rachel Tiven from Immigration Equality, Lizette Olmos from the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) , and many others. Many members of Congress also appeared and spoke in support of this bill.

Personally, as an intern observing the briefing, it was exciting to see the sheer number of people who appeared at the event (the room was packed, and the crowd of people standing in the back led all the way out the door). But more importantly, it was inspiring to see the breadth of support for the bill, from congressmen, to representatives of numerous organizations, to individuals who have had personal experiences with current family-based immigration policies. Seeing such a wide community of individuals come together for a single cause was really exciting.

So,  what exactly does the bill do?  Speaking on a telephonic briefing with  Congressman Honda after the press conference, Deepa broke down the bill into its major components. The bill will recapture unused visas previously allocated by Congress for currently backlogged applicants.  It also  reclassifies the spouses and children of  green card holders  as “immediate relatives,” allowing them to immediately qualify for a visa  rather than wait for years . Another key component of the bill is its expansion of per – country limits on family and employment-based visas from 7% to 10%.

The speakers at the press conference presented various viewpoints on the importance of the bill.  Congressman Neil Abercrombie  from Hawaii  pointed out that the strength and development of a community starts at the family level. Congressman Honda also noted that the family serves as a critical support system for permanent residents; allowing immigrants to reunite with their families would invariably lead to healthier communities and a stronger local economy, reducing the need for government-based economic assistance programs. Karen Narasaki from AAJC also noted that prolonged separation from loved ones slows down the ability of permanent residents to integrate into American society, in addition to inhibiting their ability to work at their full potential.

A major topic today was the portion of the bill regarding  binational same-sex  couples. The bill includes a comprehensive definition of “families,” including  gay and lesbian couples and their children so that U.S. citizens and green card holders can sponsor their permanent partners living abroad.  Members of Congress and organizational representatives present strongly  supported this aspect of the bill,  emphasizing  that no one should get left behind in the upcoming reform of immigration laws.

So, why does this bill matter for South Asians? Approximately 75% of  the over 2.7 million South Asians in the US were born abroad. Most importantly, individuals from South Asia  are among the top ten countries that rely upon the family-based immigration system  and wait years for green cards. Currently, family members abroad  have two choices: stay within the legal process and wait an unreasonable length of time to be with their loved ones; or enter and remain in the US  through unauthorized channels and keep a low profile. The choice to follow the law should never be a difficult one. When the choice is between waiting to get immigration status and being with the one you love, a change in policies is clearly in order.

Links to Organizations:

  • NAACP: http://www.naacp.org/
  • LULAC: http://www.lulac.org/
  • AAJC: http://www.advancingequality.org/
  • Immigration Equality: http://www.immigrationequality.org/