The comprehensive immigration reform bill that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is co-sponsoring would put millions of immigrants on the path to citizenship and would specifically benefit the Asians here, he said.
“We have a great Asian community and I am a great fan of immigration because it adds to the greatness of New York and the greatness of our country,” Schumer said during a phone press conference Friday.
According to the senator, the new bill would clear the entire family backlog of people waiting to be admitted into the country in less than 10 years, a process that can take up to 15 years.
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who also spoke during the phone conference, praised the senator for the reforms.
“This is a better bill than we originally anticipated,” Meng said. “Senator Schumer has been working incredibly hard on this tremendously monumental task for the people of the state and country. He has mastered the art of compromising and has made very progressive strides that will benefit the Asian community.”
The phone conference, held on Friday, came two days after Meng sent Schumer a letter criticizing some of the provisions that could be “particularly disadvantageous to the Asian American community and detrimental to our immigration system and American economy at large.
“Over the past 10 years, U.S. residents have sent over $450 billion dollars in remittances to foreign countries,” Meng writes. “Much of this money goes to family members who cannot legally join their relatives in the United States. 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.”
The letter did praise the inclusion of additional visas for a range of workers, legal counsel for vulnerable immigrant populations and the expanded implementation of the DREAM Act within the proposal that will ensure that “hardworking young Americans, who remain undocumented due to no fault of their own, are provided with a dignified and expedited path to citizenship.”
Meng called all of those provisions necessary and overdue.
Schumer insisted that the revisions, including a point system for adult siblings seeking citizenship would greatly benefit members of the Asian community, citing the increase in Asians attending specialized high schools and Ivy League universities.
“The point system favors Asians because it favors families and high-skill workers, which means Asians will do better than other communities,” Schumer said, adding, “1.3 million undocumented Asian immigrants will be immediately legalized. We can’t get everything we wanted to for it to go through the Republicans but it does have most of what we want.”
The new provisions added to the bill will guarantee U.S. citizens the ability to bring in siblings and adult married children as long as one petitions for them within 18 months.
“We’re going to do everything we can to keep it from being watered down when it’s brought to the floor,” Schumer said. “There will be people trying to do that. Conservatives do not want this to happen even though Republicans and Democrats authored the bill.”
The bill will be up for debate within the next couple of weeks but Schumer said that if it passes the Senate with 70 votes, there will be pressure on the House of Representatives to pass it as well.
“It’s going to be a fight,” Schumer said. “We debated what to do with our borders and now we’re debating the path to citizenship because it is still a hot issue. We have to fight back against those who are looking to prevent any sort of immigration reform from happening.”
Meng wrote in her letter to Schumer that she admires the proposal and will vigorously advocate for it in the House of Representatives.