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 CornynSaudi skeptics gain strength in Congress Why Cruz flipped on Trump Schumer rips 'disappointing' 9/11 bill veto, pledges override MORE (R-Texas) and Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleySenate rivals gear up for debates Grassley pulling away from Dem challenger Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (R-Iowa) voted down Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP Report: Intelligence officials probing Trump adviser's ties to Russia White House preps agencies for possible shutdown 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 MenendezTaiwan and ICAO: this is the time Rubio warns of terror attack from Cuba flights Politicians shouldn’t be above the law, Trump and Clinton included MORE (D-N.J.), Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonTrump: Sanders supporters 'like Trump on trade, a lot' Clinton ties Trump's refusal to release tax returns to Russia in ad Clinton's lead narrows to 3 points in Pennsylvania MORE (D-N.Y.) and Barack ObamaBarack ObamaWATCH LIVE: Obama speaks at African American Museum opening Obama talks racial tension at African-American museum opening Trump in 2011: Clintons ‘have done so much’ for blacks MORE (D-Ill.), two of which were cosponsored by Chuck HagelChuck HagelCreating a future for vets in DC Republicans back Clinton, but will she put them in Pentagon? There's still time for another third-party option 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.