For immediate release
August 21, 2009
L. Sookyung Oh, NAKASEC, 202-567-1397
NAKASEC Reports Back on Meeting with President Barack Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
(Los Angeles, CA) On August 20, 2009, EunSook Lee, Executive Director of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), joined representatives from law enforcement, business, labor, faith, community, and advocacy organizations at the White House to discuss immigration reform. Below is a statement from EunSook Lee.
Yesterday’s meeting was the first of its kind in recent years for the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC). We as immigrant rights organizers and advocates were invited to the White House for a conversation with senior White House and Department of Homeland Security staff to talk about fixing the broken immigration system. This level of serious engagement by the Administration is new and promising.
Every day, we hear from community members living in fear and in the shadows, of being separated from family members, or of seeing their dreams unrealized. From that perspective, this meeting is long overdue – particularly for groups like NAKASEC and its affiliates the Korean Resource Center in Los Angeles and the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center in Chicago, who have been working for years on this issue and are anxious to see the passage of immigration reform legislation soon.
During the breakout sessions, participants shared their belief that immigration enforcement is most effective through the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform laws that include the legalization of our nation’s undocumented population, elimination of the family immigration backlogs, and restoration of due process and civil liberties, among other provisions. While the new Administration has made some positive steps to reverse harmful anti-immigrant measures and provisions from the previous Administration, and the full impact of those steps has yet to be realized, immigrant communities relayed their grave concerned about how immigration enforcement will play out. Secretary Janet Napolitano had stated earlier that the Administration was working in a bipartisan manner to realize comprehensive immigration reform law and focusing on achieving “effective and smart” enforcement, such as 287 (g) agreements and expanding electronic employment verification systems or E-Verify. Participants pointed out that these types of measures have been shown to increase discrimination and racial profiling by local law enforcement and employers and found to be strongly flawed. Lastly, concerns were raised about the continued detention and deportation of young people who are potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act. The Administration responded by agreeing to address the raised concerns.
NAKASEC is committed to continued dialogues with the White House and Congress to look at ways to fix the immigration system through legislative and Administrative means. The road ahead will be rough but we also know that immigration reform is urgently needed and all our communities deserve substantive and real reforms.
NAKASEC was founded in 1994 by local community centers to project a national progressive voice on major civil rights and immigrant rights issues and promote the full participation of Korean Americans in American society. Immigrant rights and immigration reform has been a signature issue since its founding because of the negative impact on Korean American and AAPI communities from legalization to due process and keeping families together. NAKASEC and its affiliates are lead organizers for the upcoming Citizenship Day mobilization in Washington, D.C. on September 17, 2009 to promote inclusive health reform and comprehensive immigration reform policies. www.nakasec.org.