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LOS ANGELES - An Asian American civil rights organization in the United States urged Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) on Thursday to defend family union in immigration reform.
The bi-partisan Senate's proposal is a substantial step in the right direction to fix the broken immigration system, yet, some of the proposed changes are a dramatic departure from the group's long-standing value of family unity, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (APALC) said.
APALC, the largest Asian American civil rights group in the country, said in a statement that Asian American community members should know their rights and take action to ensure their voices are heard throughout the legislative process.
The statement noted that the legislation proposal eliminates the "F4" visa category, which means that US citizens will no longer be able to sponsor their brothers and sisters.
The proposal also places an age cap on the "F3" visa category, only allowing US citizens to sponsor their adult married children who are 31 years old or younger.
APALC urged the Asian American community to call Senator Dianne Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will be reviewing the immigration bill, to preserve the ability of brothers, sisters, and adult married children of all ages to immigrate to the US.
The Asian Pacific Islanders for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (API FIRE), a local coalition of the AAPI organizations, said Wednesday that the proposal will dramatically restrict families from reuniting with certain loved ones.
It also failed to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples in the family-immigration system, according to the API FIRE.
The Senate bipartisan group, dubbed as the "Gang of Eight," unveiled the framework for immigration reform in January. President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged the Senate to quickly move forward the "common-sense" bill.
"This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me," said Obama, "But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform."
The bipartisan bill will provide 11 million undocumented immigrants with provisional legal status and a 13-year earned pathway to citizenship, but only after authorities have met certain criteria for securing the border.