June 4, 2009, 11 AM
EunSook Lee, NAKASEC, 213.453.4378
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC, 213.434.4267
Becky Belcore, KRCC, 773.588.9158
Upholding a Commitment to Families
House Joins the Senate in Introducing Family Immigration Bill
(Washington, D.C.) The National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and its affiliates – the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center (KRCC) in Chicago and the Korean Resource Center (KRC) in Los Angeles – welcome the introduction of the “Reuniting Families Act” by Representatives Mike Honda (D, CA-15), Linda Sanchez (D, CA-39), and Raul Grijalva (D, AZ-7). Similar to the Senate version introduced by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Charles Schumer (D-NY) on May 20, 2009, this legislation recognizes the contributions of immigrants and the importance of families in strengthening our country. By reducing the unbearably long periods of families being separated and improving the outdated family immigration system, countless families will not be forced to wait years – often decades – to reunify with loved ones. The legislation is a critical building block for comprehensive immigration reform and includes the following provisions:
– Recapture of unused and unclaimed visas from 1992 to 2007 to be placed back in the pool of current visas for families and employers and utilize unused visas in the future would “roll over” to the next year;
– Re-classify children and spouses of lawful permanent residents as “immediate relatives,” which allows them to immediately qualify for a visa;
– Allow widows and widowers and their children to continue their immigration applications in cases where the petitioner has died;
– Increase in the per country limits of family and employment-based visas from 7% to 10% of certain countries with extremely long backlogs;
– Increase the Attorney General’s discretion to waive barriers for U.S. citizen and lawful permanent residents who would face undue hardships if they are denied to be with their spouse, parent or children;
– Exempt children of certain World War II Filipino veterans from numerical caps on visas; and
– Provides the same protection to children of fiancée’s of U.S. citizens from aging out of the visa application process that other visa holders have; and
– Provides equal treatment to stepchildren and biological children by allowing stepchildren under the age of 21 to immigrate upon their parents’ marriage.
Heng Ji Cho was separated from her daughter for 13 years before being reunited in 2002. Unfortunately, their time together was short lived; Heng Ji was diagnosed with cancer and passed away two years later. Her story illustrates the harsh impact of today’s outdated family based immigration system. Currently, tens of thousands of Korean Americans are enduring long periods of separation from their loved ones.
Immigration reform is as much about families as it is about the economy and security.
Families are the most important social unit of any society; in times of personal or economic hardships, we each rely on our families. Representatives Honda, Sanchez (Linda), and Grijalva have done the right thing by putting a spotlight on the importance of preserving and strengthening the family based immigration system. NAKASEC and its affiliates are committed to advancing policy solutions that keep families together. We intend to ensure that comprehensive immigration reform remains a centerpiece of any policy agenda for Congress and the Obama administration.
TELEPHONIC BRIEFING ON JUNE 4, 2009
On the record briefing with Question & Answer
Thursday, June 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm EST/1:30 pm CST/ 12:30 pm MST / 11:30 am PST
“Reuniting Families Act Briefing” (Event Code: 1653384)
• U.S. Representative Michael Honda (D, CA-15), Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus
• EunSook Lee, Executive Director, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
• Christina Gonzalez, Community Advocate
• Deepa Iyer, Executive Director, South Asian Americans Leading Together
• Tuyet G. Duong, Senior Staff Attorney, Asian American Justice Center (Moderator)
Representative Honda, community organizations and advocates will be available to answer questions related to the Reuniting Families Act.