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'Family reunion in immigration bill would reduce remittances'

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 18:15

Washington: A US lawmaker has pitched for making family reunification a priority in the proposed comprehensive immigration reform bill arguing that this would prevent immigrants from remitting money back home and thus inject billions of dollars into the American economy.

Backed by nearly a dozen and half Asian American organisations, including Indian Americans, Congresswoman Grace Meng said, "Over the past ten years, US residents have sent over USD 450 billion dollars in remittances to foreign countries. Much of this money goes to family members who cannot legally join their relatives in the United States.

She made the remarks in a letter to Senator Charles Schumer. The New York Senator is one of the eight senators - known as the Gang of Eight - who authored the sweeping legislative proposal.

"Making family reunification a priority would strengthen communities and would inject billions of dollars into our economy every year.

"Beyond the numbers, immigrants' relatives often provide an unpaid caregiver support system, pool extended family resources into business entrepreneurship, and facilitate long-term assimilation into American society," Meng said.

Objecting to the limitations that the proposed legislation would impose on family reunification, the Congresswoman requests that changes be made to the bill so that the country's family-based immigration system remains in place.

In its present form, the legislation would effectively eliminate the ability of US citizens to sponsor their adult siblings and married adult children for legal permanent residence, a provision that would adversely impact Asian-Americans, the lawmaker said.

The letter is supported by 17 Asian American organisations including several Indian Americans, prominent among them being Adhikaar, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian American Bar Association of New York Asian Americans for Equality, and South Asian Council for Social Services YWCA of Queens.

In its current form, Meng said the Senate plan contains a number of provisions that are particularly disadvantageous to the Asian American community and detrimental to the immigration system and American economy at large.

"The Asian American community faces unique challenges that are not addressed in the current proposal and deserve further consideration.

"Asian American families, like all families, have a strong interest in ensuring that any comprehensive immigration bill retains provisions to enable all current family reunification pathways," she said.

Noting that 60 percent of the current foreign-horn population is Asian American, Meng said the proposed bill deemphasises adult sibling and adult married child relationships in the formula that underpins the new family reunification process.

"The need for family reunification is foremost in the hearts of the Asian American community, and the underlying assumption that these particular family relationships are attenuated is simply false," she said.


First Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 18:15
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