Ethnic Media Slams Immigration Bill
New America Media, News Round-Up,
By: Peter Micek
Posted: May 25, 2007
From its replacement of the family-based unification laws for a merit-based system, to its complicated path to legalization for low-skilled workers, the bipartisan bill on immigration reform in the Senate draws little praise from the nation’s immigrant news sources. Peter Micek monitors Spanish-language media for NAM. With reporting by NAM reporters Aruna Lee, Elena Shore, Eugenia Chien, and Viji Sundaram.
Ethnic 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 U.S. 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,” Natarajan said.
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 U.S. citizens.”
One point did draw praise, according to the Philippine News, when the D.C.-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 U.S. 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.