ASIAN AMERICAN LEADERS CALL FOR A CLEAN DREAM ACT
AND OTHER IMMIGRANT PROTECTIONS
New York City: This morning, the Asian American Federation (AAF), in partnership with elected officials and immigration advocates, held a press conference on City Hall Steps calling on Congress to pass a clean DREAM Act and other immigrant protections as the Friday, January 19th deadline for the federal spending bill approaches.
The Federation organized this event to highlight the importance of immigration for Asian American communities, including the impacts on the pan-Asian community from policies that threaten to keep families apart. The press conference highlighted the critical need for a clean DREAM Act without sacrificing any of the other immigration programs, such as Temporary Protective Status (TPS), the diversity visa program, family-based immigration, refugee protections, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. There are currently 1.6 million applicants from Asia on the family-sponsored visa waitlist as of November 1, 2017, and Asians accounted for 46% of all family sponsored visas from last year. In 2016, family-sponsored preference visas accounted for nearly one in four of all new Asian legal permanent resident visas.
“I am the product of one of those family reunification visas.” Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation said. “After 45 years in this country, my family has contributed to this country in myriad professions. My family is the living reminder of the promise of this country. As a U.S. citizen, a voter, and the head of the Asian American Federation, I am committed to ensuring that the door remains open for many more families, whether they come through family or work visas, as refugees or as DREAMers. I ask our elected leaders to honor the spirit of this country by ensuring that these programs continue.”
“With the clock running out, it is imperative that Congress take action to provide a permanent legislative solution for the hundreds of thousands of DREAMers – including the 130,000 AAPI DREAMers – who are at risk of being deported through no fault of their own,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens). “It is also essential that such a solution not make any cuts to the family-based immigration system that has been a bedrock for the Asian American community. DREAMers have greatly contributed to our nation; they’ve bolstered our economy, enhanced our communities and have become woven into the fabric of America. Congress must act immediately to protect them.”
“With Congress getting down to the wire to pass a bipartisan immigration plan, I stand with Dreamers, advocates and allies to renew our call for a clean DREAM Act without punitive add-ons that threaten to subject immigrant families to lives of constant fear,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin (D-Lower Manhattan). “As the Trump Administration continues its hostile attacks on immigrant communities, we need leaders in Washington to join our fight against intolerance and racism, and uphold the fundamental principles of inclusion and opportunity on which our country was founded. Thank you to the Asian American Federation for organizing today’s rally, and to all the advocates fighting for immigration reform to forge a reality where no one is forced to live in the shadows.”
NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Brooklyn), Chair of the NYC Council Committee on Immigration, stated “We must always remember the great contributions 30,000 Dreamers make to our City and how hard we must work to protect them. This is a new year and we face continuing threats to DACA from a hostile federal government. We will combine our strengths and fight for national legislation that sustains DACA permanently. The vast majority of all Americans agree that Dreamers deserve to stay in safety and security and that partisan politics should not tear families apart and shatter communities.”
“We stand here with a simple message for Washington: pass a clean DREAM Act, protect our immigrant communities and stop breaking our families apart,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “Every hour that passes without a clear decision on these issues is an hour of agony for thousands of families and young men and women across our nation. We ask that that Congress work with us and extend protections to our Dreamers, refugees, TPS recipients and other hardworking immigrants. Many of the individuals affected by these policies are Americans in every way but in a single document, and we demand that the federal government do the right thing and let our families remain in their homes.”
NYC Council Member Peter Koo (D-Flushing, Queens) emphasized, “We must provide a pathway to citizenship for the countless Dreamers who have built their home here without resorting to unreasonable and inhumane demands that tear apart families. Thank you to the Asian American Federation and all the advocates for standing up for this important cause.”
“The time to pass a clean DREAM Act is now,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), whose district is home to thousands of immigrants. “The United States is great because of the millions of immigrants who have settled here. A clean DREAM Act complete with family visas will establish a path to citizenship for these men and women, helping them realize their full potential. Congress must take immediate action to fix our broken immigration system and keep our families together.”
“For generations, America has been a beacon of light for millions of people throughout the world seeking a better life,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “It is disgraceful that any administration would reject those seeking refuge or deport those who contribute so much to our society and economy. I want to thank the Asian American Federation for heeding the call to join together and demand a DREAM Act that protects all those who consider this country their home.”
“The discussion of immigration in Washington has become morally unhinged, and it is time for every elected leader to reject the hate and scapegoating that have characterized this debate, regardless of party or political consequences,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Every member of Congress who still possesses an ounce of moral clarity must insist that we keep our promises to the people who were brought to this country as children and the people who were offered refuge from war, famine, and disaster by our government.”
NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said, “Even though eight in 10 Americans support DACA, the GOP continues to use lives as legislative leverage. It’s as heartbreaking as it is horrific. We’re a country of immigrants — and we always will be. That’s why we need a clean DREAM Act, and we need it now.”
Joining the emergency rally were leaders from: Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC), CMP, Council of Peoples Organization (COPO), Japanese American Social Services Inc (JASSI), The Japanese American Association of New York Inc., MinKwon Center for Community Action, The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and OCA-NY.