Rep. Mike Honda speaks at an immigration reform rally in front of the U.S. Capitol.

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, members of the “Gang of Eight” – the bipartisan group of senators negotiating comprehensive immigration reform – released their plan, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. Leaders of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements in response:

• Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena): “The time to fix our broken immigration system is now, and today’s proposal is the first substantive step toward effecting real change. It represents the best chance in a generation to help aspiring Americans fulfill their dreams of becoming our fellow citizens.

“As chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I made clear that our immigration backlogs must be addressed, and this bill would clear them within eight years. We called for a legal permanent resident provision, allowing the family members of green card holders to come here without delay, and this bill provides one. And when we called on the Senate negotiators directly to ensure parents maintain the right to bring their children here, they modified the bill accordingly.

“However, with any compromise, important provisions are lost in negotiations. This package is weakened by the fact that it eliminates sibling-based visas and makes it harder for some families to petition for their adult married children. Equally concerning is the exclusion of the LGBT community from all family reunification provisions within the bill.

“So while this bill is a promising first step, it is clear that there is still much work to be done before we arrive at a final product. I look forward to examining the Senate proposal in greater detail and working with my colleagues in both the House and Senate to create the strongest possible immigration reform package in the weeks ahead.”

Rep. Judy Chu, chair of CAPAC, also spoke at the rally.

• Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose): “As CAPAC Immigration Taskforce co-chair, I am encouraged by the introduction of a bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate. This is a huge step toward honoring our nation’s legacy as a land of opportunity. I commend the Senate bipartisan working group for enhancing the employment visa system, increasing the pool of green cards available to foreign-born science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) graduates, addressing visa backlog, forging a path to citizenship for undocumented communities, and incorporating the DREAM Act.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and House to ensure that family reunification is prioritized as the bill moves through the legislative process. I will also work to ensure that a reform bill eliminates discrimination in immigration law against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans and their foreign-born partners. The family is the basic unit of our society, and strong immigrant families start businesses, create jobs, and contribute to our nation’s social and economic fabric. Family unity must remain the cornerstone of our immigration system.”

• Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa), CAPAC Immigration Taskforce co-chair: “I would like to thank our colleagues in the Senate for their timely and significant immigration reform bill introduced earlier today. This is the first of many steps that we must take to address the failures of our current immigration system.  As leaders in the Asian Pacific American community, we applaud the inclusion of provisions that provide a roadmap to permanent residency and citizenship, address stateless individuals, support our young DREAMers, and promote science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers. 

“Indeed, there is much work to be done, and I look forward to working with my fellow members of Congress to ensure that the momentum surrounding these issues is not lost on partisan divisions or political differences. We are indeed a nation of immigrants, and must act swiftly, yet responsibly in responding to the ever-growing need for immigration reform.  Let us move forward in the spirit of inclusion to get the job done.”

CAPAC has been actively engaged in the negotiations around comprehensive immigration reform in both the House and Senate. CAPAC released immigration priorities for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in February, sent a letter and placed calls to the “Gang of Eight” on family immigration in March, and met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) about concerns regarding the immigration bill in April.

Read CAPAC’s full immigration priorities here.

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