Asian Americans Advancing Justice Celebrates as House Judiciary Committee Moves Forward on Pathway to Citizenship and Clearing the Family Immigration Backlog
Washington, D.C.—Sept. 14, 2021—Last night, the House Judiciary Committee passed out of committee the immigration legislation in the FY 22 Budget Reconciliation Package that included a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and provisions to clear the family and employment-based visa backlogs.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent civil rights organizations, issues the following statement:
“Tireless advocacy from undocumented youth, organizers, and communities across the country has led to the inclusion of key measures in the most promising legislative vehicle to begin transforming our deeply flawed immigration system. The House Judiciary Committee passed immigration provisions in the FY 22 Budget Reconciliation Package that included a pathway to citizenship for immigrants with or without Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders, essential workers, and farmworkers. Over 100,000 Asian undocumented immigrants, approximately 15,000 Nepali TPS holders, and tens of thousands of Asian Americans on nonimmigrant visas could benefit under these provisions. These important racial justice and civil rights provisions brings us one step closer to legalizing 11 million undocumented immigrants.
We support the inclusion of provisions to clear the family and employee-based visa backlogs that have separated many Americans from their families abroad, sometimes for many decades. For example, U.S. citizens wait an average of 20 years for a sponsored sibling from the Philippines. These provisions also provide relief to Indian families stuck in temporary nonimmigrant visa status.
We endorse the inclusion of provisions from Congressman Ritchie Torres and Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Keeping Our Promise Act, HR 3548, which provides green cards to diversity visa program lottery winners who did not or were not able to receive them due to the former administration’s immigration bans. Tens of thousands of diversity visa winners, including 3,800 Afghan recipients, would be able to gain the green cards they earned and find a new future in the U.S.
It is crucial to move this bill forward and provide urgent relief for millions of people and their families. At the same time, we continue to object to the harmful criminal bars to legalization and adjustment of status. Our criminal legal system disproportionately harms Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people and other people of color. All people deserve to be treated with dignity, and people deserve second chances. This comes at a time when large numbers of Southeast Asian refugees continue to be ripped from their communities and deported, often to countries they have never known.
While we are pleased to see our recommendations such as recapturing visas lost to bureaucratic delay included in this package, we recognize that this is merely the first step and that more work must be done to reform our immigration system to be a fair and equitable system for all. We take this moment to congratulate and celebrate all of the undocumented youth, DACA recipients, TPS holders, farm workers, essential workers and their organizations on their organizing and hard work to make this win happen.”