Blocking Family-Friendly Amendments Hurts Asian Americans

The Senate failed to complete its work on immigration legislation last week when immigration restrictionists led by Sens. John CornynJohn CornynGOP mired in Zika dispute GOP duo unveils healthcare bill maintaining parts of ObamaCare Overnight Tech: Facebook finds no bias but vows to change trending feature MORE (R-Texas) and Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyDefense bill renews fight over military sexual assault Reid knocks GOP over 'light' Senate schedule Overnight Tech: Facebook finds no bias but vows to change trending feature MORE (R-Iowa) voted down Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidReid knocks GOP over 'light' Senate schedule McConnell sets up vote to begin debate on defense policy bill The Trail 2016: Dems struggle for unity MORE's (D-Nev.) effort to move the legislation forward for a final vote.

The efforts by restrictionists to vote down provisions that would have helped to protect the ability of immigrants to keep their families together are especially alarming. Restrictionists voted against family amendments sponsored by Sens. Robert MenendezRobert MenendezDems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World This week: GOP lawmakers reckon with Trump MORE (D-N.J.), Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRomney should endorse Clinton Trump aide: Trump paid 'lowest tax rate possible' Dem mocks Trump’s ‘short fingers’ on House floor MORE (D-N.Y.) and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaClinton allies blame Bernie for bad polls Bill Press: Bernie is not a threat John Feehery: GOP: Listen to Reince MORE (D-Ill.), two of which were cosponsored by Chuck HagelChuck HagelHagel says NATO deployment could spark a new Cold War with Russia Overnight Defense: House panel unveils 5B defense spending bill Hagel to next president: We need to sit down with Putin MORE (R-Neb.). A fourth amendment sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) to provide adequate visas to the parents of U.S. citizens was not voted on due to the failed cloture vote.

These family amendments would have fixed provisions in the Senate immigration bill that are particularly unfair to Asian Americans. Instead of respecting family reunification as the cornerstone of American immigration policy, Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) sought to block votes on family-friendly amendments. He also pushed his own amendment to the family provisions which made the law even more biased against Asian families by further eliminating consideration of petitions already filed for married adult children and siblings of U.S. citizens - over 60 percent of the visas in these categories went to Asian family members in 2005.

Asian Americans who played by the rules and petitioned for their adult children and for siblings are being unfairly penalized by the proposed legislation. Moreover, by successfully lobbying Republican senators against the family amendments, the Bush administration further undercut support for the bill.

Senate Republican leadership needs to get serious about passing legislation that includes a workable solution to the problem of undocumented immigration. There must be a sensible path to citizenship for any new immigrants and realistic measures to keep families from having to choose between obeying the law or enduring years of separation.

The Asian American Justice Center, a nationally recognized voice on behalf of Asian Americans, will continue to pursue fair, humane and nondiscriminatory immigration policies. This issue is too important for failure to be an option. The Senate and the Bush Administration need to get it right and get it done now.

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