Asian Americans have a lot to gain from progressive immigration reform. Today, our relatives abroad make up the bulk of those who are on a waiting list that can last almost two decades in some categories. Many young men and women from our communities face deportation even though they have grown up in the United States. Some are subjected to harsh Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids and detention policies. Of the estimated twelve million undocumented immigrants in the country, demographers tell us that more than 10 percent are from Asian or Pacific countries. Many undocumented Asian Americans are college or college-bound students who have been praying for the passage of the DREAM Act so that they can get legalized and contribute more fully to U.S. society.You can follow me on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.
Perhaps most importantly, Asian Americans should care about immigration policies because even the most cursory review of Asian American history informs us that immigration laws and enforcement have shaped and reshaped our communities since the 1800s. Today, every Asian American subgroup, with the exception of Japanese Americans, remains predominately foreign-born. And when anti-immigrant restrictionists wage attacks on newcomers, it should not take much to realize that the targets could be us, because in fact, the target is us.
In this essay, I first review a handful of policies that relate directly to issues affecting Asian immigration. Then I turn to other big immigration policy questions that all Americans, including Asian Americans, should contemplate. Addressing those questions directly and without delay is an important step in resolving the tension over immigration that affects all communities of color in the United States.
Image from LIFE.