Statement from APALA National President Johanna Puno Hester on
Immigration Bill Passage to Full Senate
May 22, 2013 – Yesterday marked an important step towards fully realized comprehensive immigration reform. The Senate Judiciary Committee successfully passed the immigration bill with a 13-5 bi-partisan vote. Throughout the two week process, we saw many victories and lost ground with some amendments including family unity for siblings, adult children, and same sex bi-national couples. As the bill moves to the full Senate and in the House, the fight and our work, continues.
I applaud champions such as Senator Richard Blumenthal who offered many amendments that passed on worker protections including labor recruitment regulations to combat trafficking and abuses. Cases like those of the Grand Isle Shipyard workers recruited from the Philippines to Louisiana under false pretenses and harsh conditions will be prevented in the future. Employment based immigration must be transparent, humane and close the loopholes on predatory practices.
The leadership and courage of Senator Mazie Hirono showed the nation that key issues affecting Asian American and Pacific Islanders matter. We thank Senator Hirono and supporters of family reunification for Filipino World War II veterans and access to federal financial aid for DREAMers. Our community has been organizing for years across generations for both the veterans and DREAMers. While I am hopeful for progress, APALA members and allies will continue to mobilize and protect the roadmap to citizenship for the 11 million aspiring citizens.
The largest and deepest cut to our communities is the exclusion of siblings, adult children over 31 years of age, and same-sex bi-national couples from family reunification. Senator Hirono and Senator Leahy were shutdown on their amendments to expand the definition of family. I am personally impacted by family reunification and am extremely disappointed that family unity has become a bargaining chip.
Community and labor across the country will continue to make our voices heard and watch closely as comprehensive immigration reform continues to the full Senate. We will make calls, mobilize in district and share our stories to urge members of congress to stand on the right side of history. The time is now for commonsense legislation.
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO was founded in 1992 as the first and only national organization for Asian Pacific American union members to advance worker, immigrant and civil rights. For more information, visit www.apalanet.org and follow@APALAnational