Slams Immigration Bill
By Peter Micek
newspapers serving immigrant communities nationwide
filed reports and editorials wary of the Senate’s
bipartisan bill on immigration reform. Latino media
say the bill fails to help low-skill workers, while
Asian media in particular bemoan the end of the
family-based immigration system of the last half-century.
In a May 18 editorial, New York’s Spanish-language
El Diario La Prensa calls the Senate immigration
proposal “a step back” for immigration
reform. The proposal replaces the current family
sponsorship system with a merit-based system that
considers education, work experience, and English
proficiency. This would leave few options for the
hard-working, law-abiding, less-educated workers
who fill the construction, service and agricultural
industries, the editorial contends. Like current
immigration policies, the proposal contains no path
for temporary workers to remain in the country,
a move that would create a permanent underclass
of undocumented workers.
"Some senators are appealing for patience towards
an admittedly imperfect bill. But the issue is not
that the bill is flawed -– it’s that
it replaces one set of problems with another,"
the editorial concludes.
In Los Angeles, a May 22 editorial in the Spanish-language
daily La Opinión notes that “the road
to a positive bill is long and full of stumbling
blocks.” The bill may be the first step toward
possible immigration reform, but it is a long way
away from ideal, editors argue. La Opinión
warns against “false enthusiasm” over
imminent reform and cautions readers against the
unscrupulous people who may try to take advantage
of their hopes and defraud them out of money with
false promises of legalization.
Ajit Natarajan, a Silicon Valley engineer and the
founder of Unite Families, told India-West newspaper
that the bill’s proposal to cap green cards
at 40,000 for the parents of US citizens would be
problematic for the Indian-American community. “From
a legal family immigration perspective, this bill
is a disaster and it doesn’t help us one bit,”
Claying Fong, executive director of the National
Asian Pacific Center on Aging, told the Chinese-language
World Journal that in order to legalize more undocumented
immigrants, the plan sacrifices legal immigrants
who have been waiting their turn. If the plan passes,
he said, American citizens who apply for immigration
status for their families after May 2005 will be
unable to bring their parents, adult siblings and
adult children to the United States.
According to Korean media, Korean-Americans have
reacted with shock at the bill currently being debated
in the Senate. Many say they are concerned over
proposed changes to family unification laws.
More than 17,000 South Koreans immigrate to the
United States every year, 70 percent of them arriving
through the family unification law, reports the
Korean-language newspaper Korea Daily.
Koreans have also criticized the proposed point
merit system, claiming that it applies only to educated
and skilled immigrants, ignoring family relations.
Eun Sook Lee, director of the National Korean American
Service and Education Consortium, says this reform
bill can be changed if communities and organizations
come together to press the Senate.
According to the Philippine News, published in South
San Francisco, Calif., there are some three million
Filipino-Americans and Filipinos in the country,
including those who have overstayed their visas.
“The good news is that Filipino beneficiaries
of family petitions who have been waiting for as
long as 22 years will get their green cards much
sooner,” New York immigration lawyer Reuben
Seguritan told the Philippine News. “The bad
news is that it will eliminate four of the current
family preferences, such as brothers and sisters,
and adult and married children of US citizens.”
One point did draw praise, according to the Philippine
News, when the DC-based American Coalition for Filipino
Veterans thanked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
(D-Nevada) for his co-sponsorship of the family
reunification bill for adult children of Filipino
World War II veterans residing in the United States.
Since it enlisted young Filipino soldiers in the
1940s, the US government has failed to honor its
promise to treat them as American citizens.
The Senate made the bill an amendment to the larger
immigration proposal on Thursday, May 24. - New