One of the reasons why President Obama was able to get re-elected in November was his stance on immigration reform, and certainly the Republican Party learned its lessons as the Hispanic vote overwhelmingly supported Obama with over 71% of the vote. With the Hispanic electorate reaching for the first time ever 10% of the electorate, discussions of real immigration reform is being discussed in Congress with even Republican support. However, there has not been much reported from an Asian American perspective, despite the fact that our community is the fastest and largest immigrant group of the past decade.
Back in January, the National Asian American Survey released a study on Opinions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders: U.S. Immigration Policy. Some of their findings:
- Federal immigration policy is particularly important to Asian Americans. About three in four Asian American adults are foreign born.
- Since 2008, Asia has been the largest regional source of immigration to the United States.
- 58% of Asian Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the United States.
- This represents a dramatic change from 2008, when just 32% of Asian Americans supported a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in the country.
- 54% of Asian Americans indicate that visa backlogs is a significant problem for their families, with 38% indicating that it is a “very serious” or “fairly serious” problem.
I’m not sure what accounts for the dramatic change in public opinion by Asians Americans for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and the report does not offer any theories. Perhaps just the greater awareness in the general media has informed and educated Asians Americans more about the issue. I had read somewhere but I am having a hard time finding the documented reference that approximately 15% of Asian immigrants in the United States are illegal.
Personally, I am definitely for a path to citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants. Children of illegal immigrants had no choice in the decision to immigrate to the United States and probably have only known the United States as their home. As for illegal adult immigrants, I’m for a more balanced approach – allowing a path to citizenship, but a long line behind those who have legally immigrated to the United States and are applying to citizenship, along with the usual details discussed like paying a fine, back taxes, etc. (and of course criminal background check, etc..)
One of my best friends from college came to the United States on a student visa and got his bachelor’s and master’s degree here, then was sponsored for an H1-B visa, then eventually for a green card after 5 years, and then became a citizen 5 years later. So if it takes someone who is following the rules, working hard and being patient for 10 years to get their citizenship, I don’t think it should take someone who enter the United States illegally a shorter time.
As for maternity tourism, with the growing trend of pregnant Chinese women coming to the United States because they can just to get birthright citizenship? I’m kind of against that. Now I definitely understand the spirit of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution on birthright citizenship, but I don’t think the author’s of the bill ever imagined the ease of jet travel back in 1968… There has to be a way to close that kind of loophole.